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Professional development offers the perfect opportunity for business owners and their teams to expand their knowledge, skills and experience.

So what exactly is professional development?

Professional development is all about providing a training and development plan that identifies suitable opportunities for you and your staff to broaden your knowledge base. For a lot of businesses, this can seem like a big ask due to the cost involved not to mention having to cover staff and delay project deadlines for people to attend training. But the additional cost is a vital part of business growth and can actually deliver a great return for both the individual and your business as a whole.

Professional Development Moves Your Business Forward
Good companies invest in staff development, taking time to develop the necessary skills to retain a workforce and proactively reduce employee turnover. When staff understand how their role contributes to the overall business everybody benefits.

Your professional development programs should be closely aligned with your organisational goals to help your team (including yourself) gain the required skills and expertise necessary to effectively deliver on current role or project and business needs.

6 reasons professional development is good for business

1. Develops key performers

Investing time and resources in developing training and developing plans for your team builds employee confidence, helping to develop and retain key performers in your business and contributing to increased staff morale and job satisfaction.

2. Delivers financial gains

Outcomes clearly linked to your business objectives help to keep everyone on the same page. Overspending is less likely with teams increased understanding of goals and the projects (and budget) necessary for the business to succeed.

3. Improves productivity

Training and professional development plans give staff a work focus empowering them to keep this focus as a valued member of the team with the added bonus of increasing productivity and positively impacting your bottom line.

4. Raises business competence

A professional development plan gives employees relevant job information enabling better understanding processes and delivery. By participating in planned learning and development, individuals build relevant skills and knowledge raising the overall level of business competence.

5. Opens communication

Setting a training and professional development plan helps open the lines of communication promoting transparency with employees and an understanding about what is required to succeed, assessing and discussing individual performance in line with the company goals and needs.

6. Increases loyalty

Engagement enhances performance in the workplace and by investing in staff training and development on your time, you are showing your team that you value them helping increase morale and performance as well as reducing churn.

As you can see, the benefits of training and development for both staff and businesses alike are numerous. Training helps motivate employees to do well and can improve business efficiency with better customer service, work safety practices and productivity improvements.

How to introduce training and development in your workplace

A formalised performance review system for all your staff will help you and each individual employee identify any skills and knowledge gaps. Before commencing any review system, take a look at the all the roles required to run your business effectively and identify the skills and experience you require for each position. Think about the frequency of training that is feasible for your business and the different types of training available (both classroom and online learning, individual and group sessions).

Discussions during staff performance reviews can help identify skills and knowledge your staff members have as well as identify any gaps where training and professional development maybe needed to bring them up to speed so that they can be as proficient as possible in their role.

Helping your employees to develop a career path helps to boost staff morale, build staff loyalty and helps individuals be proactive in recognising the training and development they need to succeed in their chosen path.

A proactive approach to the professional development of your team members allows you open up discussions about how comfortable an individual is in their job and how you (or the individual sees them progressing within the company.

Training and development toolkit

The good news is that there are plenty of resources out there to help businesses succeed with training and development for their staff.

The Australian Government created as an online resource for the Australian business community. For information on skills and training funding, take a look at: Aus Government Training

You’ll also find advice online on how regularly to hold your staff performance reviews as well as a range of free templates to download that can help guide you on creating effective training and professional development plans for your team.

A tried and tested method for training and development is to include it as part of an annual performance review. This way you get to sit down with each staff member every 12 months to identify current strengths, weaknesses and issues as well as any gaps that maybe preventing them being as effective as they want or need to be.

Together you can discuss the actions needed to support any agreed objectives which leads into a training and development discussion that looks at role requirements and sets out a clear plan to be effective and meet expectations (from both an employer and employee perspective). Your training and development plan for each individual should clearly identify what is required and an agreed timeline in which to complete any new training or development.

DIY professional development

As a business owner, it can be easy to get caught up with the day-to-day running of your business and not have time for your own professional development. Know that you’re not alone and that we are seeing more and more innovation in knowledge and education to make it as accessible as possible to everyone and meet the needs of our mobile-driven hectic lifestyles.

Take time to think about how you and your staff learn best. There are numerous ways to incorporate the online world into a professional development plan. Google Hangouts, LinkedIn, Twitter, blog posts and ed camps are all worth exploring to find content the meets your development needs to evolve professionally and stay ahead of your industry’s curve.

Stay ahead of the competition

As you can see, ongoing training and professional development is good for your workforce and good for your brand. Businesses that stand still get left behind but those who make sure their teams are constantly developing continue to move forward and stay well ahead of the competition.

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