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The 3 Best Ways To Weave Professional Development Into Your Business

Savvy managers crave the benefits of professional development for their teams. Performance, retention, satisfaction, and motivation are high on the wishlist at any organization.

But with time, money, and workloads in constant flux, how can your business go about making the investment?

For your inspiration, here are the three best ways we've promoted professional development at 9 Clouds.

professional development planning

1. Define and Track Success

This might seem like obvious managerial advice, but defining success is a crucial first step to professional development.

If your employee doesn't engage and agree to the definition of success, they won't value improving toward it.

Every quarter, our CEO sits down with each of us to agree upon and track metrics for success. We get feedback and, more importantly, discover ways we can each improve. With regular reviews and clear measurements, the opportunities show themselves, and we identify which SMART goals to set and which skills to sharpen.

“To me, professional development means that I won't become stagnant or dissatisfied in my job, and it puts the responsibility on me to make my own work meaningful,” 9 Clouds creative content specialist Jaden Miller said. “Not only does goal-setting keep my work exciting and changing, but our individual goals also open doors for company growth and improvement.”

With this focus on defining and tracking the right things, your team can then celebrate and recognize the resulting wins.

Let your employees choose how they want to develop.

2. Know What (and How) Your Employees Want to Learn

In addition to setting and tracking goals, build the skills your employees want to have. Communication, for instance, is a very common area for development in quarterly feedback here at our business.

Especially on smaller teams, hard skills make a big difference. Not only do they translate to better products and service, but they also make your crew more effective and satisfied elsewhere in their lives.

“Professional development is important to me because it helps me be a better communicator – both at work and at home,” Catherine Schuller, a project manager at 9 Clouds, explained. “It's great to have specific training and coaching just for those areas I know I need to work on most.”

Once you've identified the things that need to be developed the most, it's time to carefully choose how to work on them. Nearly every industry has a variety of conferences, seminars, webinars, and training courses – but what else could you do to provide development opportunities to your team?

Sometimes professional development is less networking and more self-working. For example, many of our own creative content specialists choose to enroll in online courses for specific skills such as creating web slides in Adobe InDesign or optimizing Facebook Ads. In both of those cases, the employees found the courses on Google and brought them to our CEO for approval. (And by the way – both of the employees passed those courses with flying colors.)

Considering the personalities of your crew will give you a good sense of where to send them for professional development. If they're not apt to absorb skills from a self-guided video course, you might want to consider industry events such as conferences or seminars where guidance abounds.

Team activities promote professional development.

3. Connect Your Humans Together By Design

The most valuable resource at any company is the human kind. Therefore it makes perfect sense to break down the invisible “silos” which, according to Wider Funnel, cause people to withhold information or to delay progress.

If the roles at your business scale to any degree, it makes sense to give people in those roles ample opportunity to spend sanctified time together to simply talk about challenges and solutions.

Earlier in 2018, Forbes noted the importance of this concept for developing individuals in an organization:

Even small opportunities for growth reinforce the fact that you believe in your employees, and that sense of trust is hugely important for employee retention and development. So, offer regular feedback and team-building opportunities.

As opposed to flying people to conferences, or sending them out for monthly training sessions, this form of internal professional development costs only time. So think about what your employees have in common which can be applied to their work, and use that as the foundation for periodic roundtable meetings.

Follow Through

If you're investing time and resources into professional development, it only makes sense to build accountability into the process.

Whenever our company sends someone to a conference, we always take the opportunity to have them disseminate their experience for the rest of the team. We don't do this to put them on the spot, but to maximize the benefits of that time.

Don't let the experience fade. Create a post-development action plan for your employees. For example, the information learned in a training video can easily be organized into a blog post, which can then be shared with your audience or team.

No matter where your business is growing, the performance, retention, satisfaction, and motivation you want for your team are only one step away. Start the conversation with your crew. It never hurts to ask what they want to learn, and how they want to learn it. All you need to do is create the time and space for it.

Develop With 9 Clouds

If you'd like to know more about how your business can build strategic growth, 9 Clouds is here to help! Schedule a strategy call with our team today.

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