You take your responsibility to improve employee productivity and engagement seriously—and are looking for professional development training ideas. You might be hesitant to get started because you’re afraid of making the wrong decision when choosing the best professional development
approach for your business. Or maybe you’ve gone down a similar path before and had little to no success. There are several challenges to navigate before you can bring your professional development training initiatives to life. Here is the step-by-step guide to launching a professional development program.
Step 1: Identify the Appropriate Type of Training for Your Organization
As a training leader, you and your team are tasked with implementing a full slate of programs for your organization. Depending on what industry you work in, there may be a number of annual compliance training programs you need to conduct.
Examples of the different types of training an organization may require include:
- Professional development training
- Compliance training
- Human resources training
- Cybersecurity training
Oftentimes, these types of training are required by regulatory agencies, or even for insurance purposes, so they demand your full attention. Adding professional development training courses to your docket may seem like a great idea, but realistically, you may not have time to put this together on top of the training you are already required to conduct—which is where professional development training organizations come in. If you are still asking 'what are the benefits of professional development?', the earlier you start to answer that, the sooner you begin to see the positive impact any professional development training brings to your organization.
Step 2: Consider Partnering with a Professional Development Organization
According to a study by Axonify, only 41 percent of employees report that their employer offers some type of professional development training.
Many of the organizations that do offer professional development training take the most cost-effective approach by investing in massive, on-demand e-learning programs that are often traditional and directive in nature. Unfortunately, this approach may not cater to each individual’s unique needs and desires.
If you find this situation all too familiar, you may want to consider partnering with a professional development training organization. Although you and your team may be quite capable, there are times when this strategy makes sense. For one, partnering with an outside organization for professional development training helps you deal with the diverse needs of your organization.
When you have multiple departments within your company, you know that there are different training needs. The skills required by one group may not be necessary for another. Different professional development training courses also fall into different paths consisting of:
- Professional development skills
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Management and leadership skills
Another time when partnering with an outside organization likely makes sense is when you need to conduct large-scale professional development training that requires extensive planning, coordination, and oversight. Turning a training project over to a trusted provider will allow you to focus on the business-critical training components that you already have in place and are accustomed to providing.
Finally, you and your team may not be equipped to deliver professional development training. You have spent years honing your skill set to create, update, and deliver the training programs your organization expects from you. Adding another catalog of courses means you have to become an expert in knowing what to look for when it comes to the course materials.
Step 3: Get Buy-In from Your Internal Team
Before kicking off a professional development training program, you need to present a strong business case internally to get everyone, from executives and managers to entry-level employees, on board. Here’s how to make it happen:
- Work with a training provider that has a number of success stories you can share with your team.
- Demonstrate clear alignment between your company’s performance goals and the training program.
- Outline how you plan to measure the return on investment (ROI) of your professional development training program.
Whatever the end result that your organization is looking for, find ways that training can help you achieve it, and spell out your plan. Resources from the Association for Talent Development (ATD) can help you determine the ROI of your program if you are struggling to measure it.
Also, don’t be afraid to use post-training surveys to determine how successful your program was and where it can be improved. The same resource catalog from ATD outlines how to build an effective post-event feedback survey and provides guidance on when you should conduct it.
Step 4: Choose the Type of Professional Development Training Program
The right partner will help you identify the skill gaps in your organization and implement a successful program. When you’re looking for a professional development partner, there are generally three different types to choose from:
1. Niche Training Organizations
Local training providers are usually small in size and limited to a certain geographic region. Oftentimes, they have “career” or “technical college” in their names, and a campus where you can send your employees for training. An on-site training center is not the only benefit these organizations provide. In addition, they are often less expensive than some of the other offerings and can offer more of a personal touch to their training.
Conversely, this type of training partner is usually geared toward niche training. Such partners may focus on medical programs or technical skills and may not offer what you need. The quality may also be less than that of a larger training provider.
2. Gurus or Well-Known Personalities
Training gurus are experts who travel to different locations all over the world to deliver leadership training—think a Tony Robbins seminar or John Maxwell course. These are highly recognized individuals in the business community and are considered gurus in the field of leadership development.
Although learning from the biggest names in leadership development might sound like the perfect idea, it’s not the best approach for every situation. These programs tend to come at a high cost and are usually not geared toward a personalized experience. They also aren’t always taught by the big names themselves. Many times, the guru creates the curriculum and then teaches others how to deliver it.
Guru seminars are great for pumping people up and hyping up a journey, but most people fail to take the necessary steps forward when the seminar or conference is finished. Everyone feels good after the fact, but not everyone executes. This makes the guru approach a questionable investment, because learning and development should be all about execution.
3. Centers for Leadership and Development
There are a number of benefits to partnering with a learning center for leadership and professional development training. The New Horizons Center for Leadership and Development, for instance, offers a wide range of courses taught by skilled individuals who are experts in their fields.
These programs are generally less expensive and are conveniently available both in person and online. They are also highly flexible, allowing employees to learn at their own pace and choose the topics best suited to their current role and future ambitions.
Unfortunately, sometimes individuals in charge of learning and development within companies are reluctant to go outside and partner with a professional development organization because of an internal conflict with job duties and a potential feeling of being replaced. You might even hear complaints from your boss like, Isn’t that what you were hired to do? But not everyone knows what should be included in a professional development plan.
This mindset is unfortunate and unfounded. If you look around, you’ll find that all the best people, initiatives, and organizations seek help—from professional athletes to corporate boardrooms. To navigate these challenges, try looking at the Center for Leadership and Development as an extension of your talent and resources that will help you achieve your goals.