Professional development is the continued education and training a person undergoes after they have already entered the workforce. Though it may seem unnecessary to many, professional development is essential if you want to succeed, grow, and achieve your full potential. Professional development can help you get more career opportunities and advance professionally.
In this article, we’ll cover the basics of what professional development is, the importance of professional development, best practices, and how to make professional development fun so you and your teams can enjoy your continued education and training.
What is Professional Development
So, what is professional development? Simply put, it is when someone gets education or training while in the workforce to better their skills, keep up with trends, stay up to date, and advance their career. It is an essential part of being in the workforce and can help you achieve your goals.
Many employers even offer or fund professional development because of how beneficial it can be. It is not uncommon for companies to have in-house professional development programs, or even offer reimbursement for college credits. By doing so, those employers upskill their employees and strengthen their own workforce.
This education and training can come in many forms, such as educational workshops and formal education at a college or university. Conferences, certification programs, team building events, training sessions, mentoring programs, and more can all be considered professional development. If you are undergoing some sort of education or training to better your skills in the workforce, you are doing professional development.
No matter what industry you are in or what job you have, professional development is something you should be pursuing. Learning and growing are things that everyone should be doing every year.
If you don’t keep up with the changes in your industry, you can quickly get behind and end up being replaced by those who do. And if you want to keep advancing professionally, you need to be continuously working to improve your skills and grow as a professional.
Importance of Professional Development
Now, let’s look at the question many people often ask themselves—why is professional development important? Professional development is important for numerous reasons, so let’s focus on four of the main reasons.
1. Career Advancement
Career advancement is one of the main motivations people have for professional development. If you want to continue advancing your career and moving up, you have to continue growing professionally. You need improved soft skills, more knowledge, expertise, etc. If you don’t continue becoming a better professional, you won’t be able to move up.
The workplace can be very competitive. In many industries, there is a constant flow of new professionals who are ready to do whatever it takes to move up. If you don’t keep up with them, you can end up by the wayside.
2. Staying Current With Trends and Technology
In 2023, new technologies and trends emerge seemingly every day. Not that long ago AI was a sci-fi dream, but now it’s quickly becoming an essential part of the workflow for countless workers. Point being, it’s critical that you keep up with current trends and technology if you want to be successful.
No matter what industry you are in, there are constantly new trends and technologies emerging. If you stay up to date and keep up with these changes, you will ensure that you have a place in the industry in the future. And if you can show that you are consistently doing what it takes to stay ahead, you’ll be more likely to keep advancing in your career.
3. Improved Job Performance
This one should come as no surprise, but professional development can make you better at your job. Since professional development revolves around learning skills and knowledge relevant to your career, it can have a big impact on your job performance.
Improved Job performance not only benefits your employer, but it also benefits you. If you are doing a great job, staying up to date, and getting better all the time, you’ll have a much easier time moving up the ladder and advancing your career.
4. Improved Job Satisfaction
Last but not least, professional development can improve your job satisfaction as well. According to Zippia, 58% percent of employees believe job satisfaction is improved through professional development. It’s not hard to see why when you break it down.
People want to feel like they are making a difference, and they want to feel cared about. If an employee is improving their skills and job performance, they are much more likely to feel like they are contributing and doing an important job. And if their employer is helping them get that training, they will feel like they are valued and cared about. Combined, both of these lead to improved job satisfaction.
Professional Development Best Practices
With the what and why covered, the next you should know are the professional development best practices. These are five of the best tried and true methods to improve your skills and grow, so be sure to consider them when planning your professional development.
Setting Goals and Creating a Plan
As with most things, setting goals and creating a plan to achieve them is a key strategy for professional development. Setting SMART goals will make it significantly easier for you to form a plan for your professional development. And once you have a plan and goals, you can start working towards them a reality.
Seeking Out Mentorship and Guidance
This is one of the oldest strategies out there, but it’s a classic for a reason. Seeking out mentorship and guidance is one of the best ways to develop professionally. Those who have been in your industry longer and have more experience have a lot they can teach you.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to those you admire for guidance. Most of the time they are happy to help someone grow and become better. They want to see others in their industry succeed as well, so reach out to them and work hard to follow their advice.
Reverse mentoring is also an option. Though it may seem counterintuitive, you can learn a lot by flipping the power structure and getting mentorship from those below you. Consider disrupting the hierarchy at your workplace so you can learn from whoever can help you.
Participating in Training and Workshops
Training and workshops are another great choice for professional development. These trainings and workshops can come in all different shapes and sizes, so there’s bound to be some that are a perfect fit for you.
Though you can attend these alone, they are often hosted by an employer. Consider asking your company if they can put on some trainings and or workshops. They are a great way to upskill an entire workforce, meaning there’s a good chance they’ll agree and help you grow professionally (alongside the rest of your coworkers).
Networking with Peers
Networking is another essential part of professional development. Networking can help you learn from your peers, find out their tips and tricks, gain new knowledge, and get insight into how they develop their skills. It can also help with emotional intelligence, a very important skill to have. Strike up a conversation with coworkers, others in the industry, those you admire, and see what they have to offer.
Using Reflection and Feedback to Improve
No matter what you decide to do for professional development, it’s key that you reflect and use feedback to improve. Self-reflection is essential when it comes to improving ourselves, so take the time to think critically about yourself and how you can improve.
Also, take feedback to heart. Those around you want you to improve as well, so listen to their feedback and find ways to implement it. If you implement feedback from others and reflect on yourself, bettering your skills should be simple.
How to Make Professional Development Fun
While professional development is serious business, that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. You can better yourself and improve your skills while also having fun. With the right events and activities, you can have a blast while also readying yourself for the next step in your career.
For example, our Leadership Stories program focuses specifically on cultivating leadership skills. The event involves board-game style scenarios that force participants to be smart leaders and start conversations amongst themselves that can have long-term meaningful impact.
Another example is Shark Teams, our Shark Tank-style event that focuses on skills relating to product development, marketing, process improvement, and presentations/pitches. Though it’s an incredibly fun workshop, it also teaches very important lessons around business and teamwork.
If you want to focus on time management and strategic planning, our Chain Reaction Challenge is a great option. This event involves teams working together to create Rube Goldberg-style devices within a time limit. You and your team can have fun designing and creating fun contraptions, all while bettering your time management and planning skills.
We also worked to bring all of our most popular professional development programs online. Whether your employees are in the office, at home, or somewhere across the globe, you can ensure they still get the training they need thanks to our online professional development workshops.
Grow Alongside Your Team
Professional development—the furthering of your professional skills through education and training—is essential if you want to continue succeeding in the workplace. It will help you stay up to date with technology and trends, improve your job performance and satisfaction, and help you advance your career.
Managers and leaders should prioritize professional development for their employees so they can build a stronger and better workforce. One way to do that is through team building. We have a whole range of professional development events and programs, so get in touch with us and start bettering your teams today.