Professional Development: Keeping it Strong

Are Your Professional Development Efforts Really Sticking?

Have you worked at a company where everyone was required to attend a two-hour team-building exercise? The company likely heard something about professional development and assumed this exercise would solve whatever issues it was having with employees. Everything seemed great. Employees seemed to “like each other” again. But the next day people went back to their jobs – got busy – and soon the benefit of the exercise was lost. That is “transactional” professional development. It simply gets employees “pumped up” for a few hours.

What needs to happen is “transformational” professional development. After assessments of the strengths of employees – and after you have identified what skills you need to develop – you put together a plan and a budget and begin targeted training and coaching. Then you combine that with actionable steps and expectations to hold people accountable.

If it’s not part of your strategic plan, that’s a problem. I’ve never seen a successful business that didn’t make employee personal growth a priority. Professional development at a previous employer made me who I am today. My growth occurred early in my career because that company was committed to developing their employees – helping them learn to be engaged, loyal and productive. It was seen as an important step that would lead to growth of the business.


Reducing turnover is one way to measure success. Companies always worry they’re going to invest in professional development and then an employee is going to walk out the door and go somewhere else. But what’s the alternative? For them to leave and complain about the company they worked for because they didn’t provide any training or coaching? Or for a company to provide professional development so if employees do leave they have positive things to say about what a great place it was to work? Plus, if you promote continued learning as part of your values during the recruiting process you’ll likely attract candidates who want opportunities to learn, grow and innovate – an important trait in today’s rapidly changing economy.


You can’t do business today the way you have always done it. People coming into the workforce today are in many cases an entirely different set of people. Some haven’t had parents at home to shape them into the people they need to be. Others have parents working so hard to make ends meet they simply aren’t around as often as our parents. In many cases business owners today are forced to become parents. They have to invest in developing people and teaching the soft skills important to be successful in a job – like why showing up on time is important. The most successful companies take pride in treating employees as family – respecting them and providing them with professional development to help them become people who are committed to lifelong learning.