How to Create a Professional Development Plan for Your Team

Image of a trainer leading a training experience in an office How to Create a Professional Development Plan for Your Team

If you’re looking to not only provide additional job satisfaction to your current employees but also stand out in the recruiting process, leveraging a professional development program for your team may be the answer for both.

Let’s explore ways to create a plan that develops your staffers’ skills, inspires innovation, and helps to build succession plans.

Why is professional development so important?

It’s also important to consider the competitive marketplace as you search for new talent. When you promote your commitment to professional development, your organization can stand out in the recruiting process for highly motivated candidates seeking a solid career path.

Employees appreciate a variety of opportunities and clear pathways to hone their existing skills and cultivate new ones. Think everything from upskilling to developing networking opportunities to conference attendance; it’s designed to help them build their abilities and your bench strength at the same time.

And while there have been movements away from hiring and managing generalists to specialists in recent years, many companies have seen the benefits of having both. With team members cross-trained when attrition happens or simply when another staffer has to be out for any reason, it can build resiliency into your business.

Assess your professional team’s needs and goals

Understand where your team members are from the outset. Ask them how they would like to improve their skills and how that relates to their career goals.

Identify areas of improvement

Identify any common themes and requests among your team members. Look for patterns that show what your employees want to learn and how they want to grow. How can you develop programs that can serve more than one person in a specific area if many members of your team want to grow their talents.

Some areas might include the following:

  • Technical expertise
  • Leadership development
  • Communication skills
  • Industry-specific knowledge

Align goals with organizational objectives

Keep your organizational goals and objectives in mind throughout the assessment process. By incorporating these into your analysis, you can help align your professional development plans with your overarching strategic objectives.

Additional ways you can provide meaningful and ongoing professional development include the following:

  • Mentoring and coaching
  • Measuring progress and effectiveness via feedback, pre-and post-assessments, and tracking performance metrics
  • Engaging in strategic succession planning by identifying leadership potential and providing targeted professional development opportunities
  • Ensuring that managers and supervisors lead by example, sharing relevant learning experiences and regularly participating in training programs
  • Recognizing and rewarding progress

Develop a comprehensive professional development plan for your team

Outline the skills and knowledge to develop: Build a list of specific skills and knowledge areas that need attention. Include both soft skills like communication and hard skills like technology or coding languages that are crucial for individual and team success.

Set short-term and long-term goals: Create categories of objectives for long- and short-term goals and objectives. Short-term goals might include attending workshops, seminars, and webinars, while long-term goals might focus on specialized training for a high-level promotion or leadership position.

Determine the timeline for implementation: Come up with a realistic timeline for your professional development plan. Consider the fact that some skills may require longer training periods or continuous training. Other skills may require short-term or single-session courses. Develop a schedule and strategy that allows for professional growth and the ability to attend to daily responsibilities.

Consider internal and external educational options: Explore options for internal and external training. Internal training sessions might involve sessions led by internal or guest subject matter experts (SMEs). External options might include training programs, graduate programs, conferences, workshops, or online courses like Coursera or LinkedIn Learning.

Develop and foster a culture focused on continuous learning: Encourage employees to make use of their time to commit to learning something new. Create a culture that encourages your employees to share knowledge and mentor each other daily. Build a library of professional development books, a list of industry-related or leadership podcasts, and other learning resources.

Offer cross-functional training opportunities: Cross-functional development allows employees to learn about the specific tasks of other employees’ jobs, adding layers to their abilities. Here are some ways to provide cross-functional opportunities:

  1. Encourage project rotations.
  2. Allow job shadowing.
  3. Facilitate task-swapping.

It can help build a more well-rounded team with awareness of and insights into the team’s and organization’s functions.

Hard Skills: usually obtained through hands-on experience or education. Soft skills: more interpersonal than technical and typically involve personality traits

Challenges associated with professional development plans

While the idea of professional development is appealing and beneficial to everyone, it does come with some challenges.

Let’s look at a few:

  • Time constraints and budgetary limitations
  • Development of a meaningful one-size-fits-all approach for a large team
  • Inability to align professional development with organizational goals
  • Employees’ resistance to change
  • Successful measurement of effectiveness
  • Retention and application of knowledge

Wherever you are in developing and retaining your current team, it can be important to develop a clear plan to build their skills and grow their talents while they’re with you. Especially if you are in a hiring freeze or struggling to fill key roles.

If you could use a helping hand when it comes to penning a compelling job description or sourcing and vetting talent before you take time to interview them, Insight Global can help. Head over to the Insight Global hiring page and we’ll help you add top talent right away.


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