How to Support Professional Development for Your Team Leads

Get tips for creating a professional development plan for your managers that helps them grow their careers while working on personal improvement activities.


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How to Support Professional Development for Your Team Leads

Every business owner, with buy-in from the C-Suite, should make learning and professional development an important part of their overall business plan — especially among leadership. Failing to invest in your team leads can result in poor decision making, low employee retention, reduced productivity, and eventually affect the bottom line.

LinkedIn’s 5th Annual Workplace Learning Report mentions that up to 80% of team leads are interested in learning “more about leading through change,” while 66% say they want more professional development opportunities to help them “manage a team virtually.”

Creating a clear path for long-term career development, supported by the human resources department, gives your employees the opportunity to improve their personal performance. Here are some ideas you can implement at your organization from providing real-time feedback to self-selected development opportunities.

What is professional development in management?

A professional development plan fosters employee learning and provides a clear roadmap for growth.

Professional development for managers includes helping your team identify specific goals while focusing on learning new skills to help support those goals. A professional development plan fosters employee learning and provides a clear roadmap for growth. You can use the plan to outline basic strategies and activities necessary to help your team meet its goals. Professional development for managers helps you:

  • Identify current skills
  • Discover any areas that need improvement
  • Map out a specific plan of action

The first step to developing a professional development plan is to review company goals, have your managers do a self-assessment survey, report on current performance, pick and choose specific goals for each team lead, and finally — track their performance.

Why professional development for team leads is important

A well-thought-out professional development plan that supports your team leads and middle management team is an important business tool. When your team members seem overworked, stressed, or dissatisfied, this can result in unhappy and less engaged employees.

LinkedIn Learning’s 2021 Skill Building in the New World of Work study mentions that 59% of survey participants identified upskilling and reskilling as the top areas of focus for the year, a 15% increase since June 2020. The report also says that 76% of Gen Zers “believe learning is the key to a successful career.”

Put simply, professional development helps your employees succeed at work through continued growth and learning opportunities. When your team leads feel empowered to help grow their career, it will result in improved efficiency, increased credibility, and a boost in confidence and overall job satisfaction.

What are some professional goals for managers?

Let’s take a look at some common professional development goals you can set for leaders in your organization. Top goals for managers can include things like:

  • Improving team productivity
  • Increasing employee retention rates
  • Establishing measurable KPIs
  • Taking time to say thanks
  • Creating a clear path to success
  • Practicing active-listening skills
  • Holding effective and productive meetings
  • Taking part in learning and training sessions
  • Developing better time management skills
  • Improving low-functioning work processes
  • Tracking professional development goals
  • Improving motivational techniques
  • Encouraging cross-department collaboration
  • Leading as a coach and mentor

These professional development goals are always evolving, and what works for one team leader might not work for another. If your managers are struggling to focus on specific development goals, you can make employee development suggestions to help guide them towards focusing on a few achievements at a time.

7 ways to support professional development

Let’s take a detailed look at some of the top professional development plans. These suggestions will give you plenty of ideas for providing team member development opportunities. Customize the plan according to the specific goals for each member of your team.

Offer professional training

A great method for promoting better employee retention rates among your team leads and middle management is to offer plenty of opportunities for professional training. This can be as simple as access to webinars, in-house workshops, job shadowing, online training programs, and industry certifications such as Google Analytics or SEMrush.

Cross-department programs

A great way to support your team is to encourage collaboration through developing a cross-department training program. This helps improve communication between departments, prevents the siloing of information, and increases the efficiency of your entire company.

Use an LMS

If your organization is really focusing on increasing knowledge and improving skills, you might want to invest in a learning management system (LMS). Instead of having your employees look for training opportunities on their own, an LMS helps coordinate all resources into a single interface. This helps you manage and deliver educational resources in an easy-to-use e-learning platform. An LMS will streamline the training process for new hires, team leads, and managers.

Instead of having your employees look for training opportunities on their own, an LMS helps coordinate all resources into a single interface.

Emphasize soft skills

Take time to identify and develop soft skills. Rather than only concentrating on technical knowledge, focusing on soft skills emphasizes things like:

  • Active listening
  • Time management
  • Effective task delegation

Improved soft skills can in turn increase the efficiency and productivity of your entire organization, not just individual employees.

Provide real-time feedback

A lack of real-time feedback often leads to disgruntled employees. The Growth Divide Study found that although 70% of businesses follow an annual performance review schedule, 94% of employees say they would prefer their managers address any potential problems as they happen. Real-time feedback includes things like weekly or monthly one-on-one meetings to discuss individual team member goals and review any areas for improvement.

Set SMART goals

Just say no to working hard but not having much to show for it. Instead of letting your leadership team wander all over the place, map out a timeline of specific achievements they can target.

SMART goals help bring focus to your professional development activities and are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Trackable

You can reset these SMART goal priorities every month as needed.

Support self-selected development

Help your employees make the switch to self-supported personalized learning so they can work towards their own individualized path to success. With more and more opportunities for online learning, long gone are the days where your entire team has to sit in on the same boring training session together. Letting your team leads learn on their own time and at their own pace is a more successful and efficient way to work on professional development goals.

Continue to support leaders

Poor leadership can result in high turnover rates, low productivity, dissatisfied customers, and unmotivated employees. Low retention also means your HR department ends up spending more time, money, and resources finding and training new employees. All of these factors will eventually have a negative effect on the performance of your organization.

Investing in the development of your leaders through professional learning programs is an important strategy for building a successful business. Effective team leaders and managers are experts at attracting, hiring, and inspiring top talent and keeping your employees happy, productive, and less likely to give notice.


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