Take Charge of Your Professional Development

Man accepts responsibility

Even as organizations recognize the need to create a culture of learning and provide continuous professional development to staff, it remains tantamount to your professional success to be part of your own development and take an active role in it.

The importance for organizations to plan and deliver customized and individualized professional development was identified as a top 10 trend by Deloitte in its Global Human Capital Trends 2014 Survey Findings and in a Harvard Business Review article where the authors stress the value of making learning a core value to support employees to develop their strengths and weaknesses.

If companies don’t meet the development needs of employees, retention is lower and overall performance and employee engagement is down.

While some organizations have recognized this, others may not be following through on doing what they know they should. Some of the reasons organizational learning falls short is because of seemingly more important priorities, a focus on immediate challenges with a “putting out fires” approach - rather than looking ahead - and finally not having the resources or knowledge to build a learning culture and professional development program.

Regardless of where your company is on the continuum of professional development, you can easily plan a full curriculum of learning for yourself that identifies goals that may align with your job and/or be directed toward a personal career path for future opportunities.

You can be the master of your own professional development and possibly partner with your place of work. We are no longer in an environment where we need to be told what we need to learn or how to learn it. Both personally and professionally, you can be self-directed and focused on what you need to know and identify where you can get it. This is easier to do now than ever before.

There are countless avenues for finding free or low cost learning options.

Many colleges and universities, and some public libraries offer courses and classes online. And, there are many prominent MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) offered by the elite Ivy League universities, including Harvard and Stamford, who partner with other well-known universities to offer online courses taught by university professors. Most MOOC classes are between four and twelve weeks long and are free. In addition to university MOOCs, there are other companies that offer online courses at reasonable costs. These include Lynda.com, Alison and Udemy-- each one focusing on different subject areas.

There are also online business libraries such as BizLibrary and Bluebottlebiz that provide books and articles and other resources. You can also find videos as micro learning opportunities.

As organizations begin to realize the importance of continuous professional development, both as a bottom line savings and as a way to retain employees, you can take charge now of your learning to ensure you remain on the cutting edge of your expertise for professional growth and career advancement.

Please comment how you've created your professional development plan, I'd love to hear about it. If your organization needs support in creating a learning culture and developing a professional developmetn program Knowledge Advantage can help, email Ruth Kustoff..

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