How a Professional Development Plan Supports Company Goals

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

Here's what you need to know:

  • Professional development for managers includes helping your team identify specific goals while focusing on learning new skills
  • When your team leads feel empowered to grow their career, it will result in improved efficiency, increased credibility, job satisfaction, and more
  • Investing in the development of your leaders is important for business success

Every business owner, with buy-in from the C-Suite, should create a professional development plan as part of their overall business plan. Failing to invest in your team leads can lead to poor decision making, low employee retention, and reduced productivity. And shortfalls in those areas typically weaken a bottom line.

Implementing a professional development plan for team leads can reverse all that. Just as a personal development plan (PDP) applies to personal life, a professional development plan can improve a person’s professional life. Entire organizations benefit as leaders improve professional skills, increase career progression and help teams stay motivated.

How important is learning and development in the workplace?

LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report turned up some interesting findings from learning and development, or “L&D,” leaders. Almost 75% believe that “L&D has become more cross-functional.” And 72% said “L&D has become more of a strategic function” at their own organizations. In fact, from 2021 to 2022, learning and development initiatives increased. For example: The number of leaders holding diversity, equity and inclusion programs rose from 34% in 2021 to 45% in 2022. The corresponding increase in “Leading through change” programs was from 37% to 42%. And the number of “large-scale upskilling or reskilling programs” is expected to increase from 31% to 41%. The reason is simple: Creating clear paths for long-term career development, supported by the human resources department, is a win-win-win strategy.

As team leads improve their professional skills, accelerate their career trajectory and tackle short-term and long-term goals, business grows. Here’s how to incorporate a professional development plan as part of your organization’s business plan.

What is professional development in management?

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

Professional development for managers includes helping your team identify specific long-term and short-term goals while learning new skills. The targeted skills would support both career development and personal goals. A development plan with manageable steps fosters employee learning and provides a clear roadmap for professional growth. You can use the plan to outline basic strategies and activities necessary to help team leads meet their goals. PDP for managers helps you:

  • Gather information about professional interests and what individuals would consider a dream job or position within the company.
  • Identify current skills and additional skills required to help leads reach professional and personal goals.
  • Discover areas requiring improvement for progress in their current position.
  • Encourage them to recognize self-selected development opportunities.
  • Map out an action plan for cultivating needed skills for future advancement.
  • Set a time frame for career development in their current job in line with their desired career trajectory and advancement.

The first step to creating  a professional development plan is to review company goals and have your managers do self-assessment surveys. Next, report on current performance and choose specific goals for each team lead. (For extra insight, reference past performance development reviews.) You might consider letting them develop their own PDP for professional growth. Then remember to track their progress!

How does career development support team leads?

Professional learning and development helps employees succeed at work through continued growth and learning opportunities. Empowering team leaders to help grow their careers and others’ often results in increased efficiency, credibility, confidence and job satisfaction..

LinkedIn Learning’s 2021 Skill Building in the New World of Work report features input from L&D pros and others globally. It found that 59% of survey participants identified upskilling and reskilling as the top areas of focus for the year, a 15% increase since June 2020. And 76% of Gen Z respondents believe “learning is the key to a successful career.”

So it benefits an organization to create a well-developed PDP that includes an actionable detailed list outlining career development opportunities.

Examples of professional goals for managers

Let’s take a look at some common professional development goals you can set for leaders in your organization:

  • Improving team productivity
  • Increasing employee retention rates
  • Establishing measurable KPIs
  • Paving clear paths to success.
  • Practicing active-listening skills
  • Holding effective, productive meetings
  • Taking part in learning and training sessions
  • Improving time management
  • Tracking professional development goals
  • Improving motivational techniques
  • Encouraging cross-department collaboration
  • Leading as a coach and mentor

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, share employee development suggestions to help them focus on a few achievements at a time.

7 ways to support professional development

Let these PDP suggestions spark ideas for providing development opportunities, then customize your plan according to each individual’s goals:

Offer professional training

Generate better employee retention rates among your team leads and middle management by giving them access to webinars, in-house workshops, job shadowing, online training programs, and industry certifications such as Google Analytics or SEMrush.

Cross-department programs

Encourage and guide collaboration with a cross-department training program. This helps to improve communication between departments, prevent the siloing of information, and increase 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 coordinates resources into one 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 coordinates resources into one interface.

Emphasize soft skills

While technical skills may be the cogs of your organizational machine, soft skills, a.k.a. “people skills,” are the heart. Such attributes as positive attitude, helpfulness, critical thinking, and clear and respectful communication go far inside and outside the workplace. But they don’t necessarily come naturally to everyone. Create a “safe” environment for developing and practicing these, and watch business flourish as personalities bloom. (Warning: Once you embrace soft skills, they’re bound to hug you back!)

Provide real-time feedback

A lack of real-time feedback often leads to disgruntled employees. According to CEOWorldMagazine, 98% of business owners surveyed believe that performance management is essential. Yet only 64% report having an effective strategy to track it. And numerous studies over the years have reported that many employees don’t believe performance reviews are even accurate, much less motivational.

Apparently there’s work to be done when it comes to providing accurate and meaningful performance reviews. Why not, start with near- and real-time feedback? Meet one-to-one weekly, monthly or on the spot to discuss goals, give praise and review areas for improvement.

Set SMART goals

Just say no to working hard without having much to show for it. Instead, say yes to framing professional development activities as SMART goals. These are brilliantly self-explanatory:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Trackable

You can reassess and reset these mid-term, or as needed.

Support self-selected career path development

Encouraging self-selected, personalized learning along individual paths toward career goals makes more sense today than ever. As opportunities expand, letting your team leads learn on their own time and at their own pace is an increasingly successful strategy.

Continued support for company leaders

Poor leadership can result in high turnover rates, low productivity, unmotivated employees and dissatisfied customers. Low retention also means your HR department spends more time, money, and resources finding and training new employees. All of these factors can hurt the performance of your organization.

Conversely, effective leaders are good at attracting, hiring, and inspiring top talent while keeping employees happy, productive, and likely to stay. This translates to lower hiring overhead and improved productivity across an organization.

The bottom line for you: Investing in the development of your leaders through professional learning programs is a wise business-building strategy.

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