A Manager’s Guide to Encouraging Professional Development in the Workplace

Helping your employees grow professionally has plenty of benefits both for their careers and the whole company. When people are allowed to enhance their knowledge and skills, they tend to do better in their tasks. They operate more effectively as they’re also able to implement new ideas and strategies. Thus, providing professional development opportunities in the workplace also improves an organisation’s performance. With a staff equipped with the latest industry-specific knowledge, an organisation becomes more competitive, profitable, and successful overall.

Although there are many benefits to developing your employees’ professional skills and knowledge, it can be a challenging assignment for managers. Some employees may see the growth opportunities as additional work or they may feel that certain areas of learning don’t apply to their current responsibilities. Fortunately, there are several ways you can motivate your employees to be more proactive. From suggesting different courses your staff can take to recognising their accomplishments, here’s a quick guide on how you can encourage your team to pursue career development.

A Manager's Guide to Encouraging Professional Development in the Workplace

Help Them Identify Their Goals

The initial step to do as a manager is to meet with your staff and help them identify what they want to achieve in their careers. This will allow you to understand their values and their needs, and it will assist them in formulating objectives that are relevant to their professional interests. During your discussions, ask your employees what challenges they often encounter and the kind of opportunities they’ll most likely want to participate in. This will help you narrow down areas of improvement that would truly support your employees’ growth.

Seek Out Learning Opportunities

Once you have established what your employees want and need to grow professionally, you can support them more effectively. You can now look for different learning opportunities your employees will be excited to engage in and help improve their career aspirations. These can be conferences, classes, training, webinars, or courses focusing on knowledge and skills relevant to your business or their responsibilities. Here in Singapore, for example, individuals can take SkillsFuture credit courses that focus on emerging areas of learning that are important for the country’s future development.

In addition to searching for various avenues of learning yourself, also ask your employees for recommendations on topics and training formats they believe would be beneficial to their professions. Letting your team members have a say in their development opportunities allows them to make an initial contribution and encourages them to actively participate.

Organise Cross-Departmental Training

Inviting employees from different departments and letting them share their expertise with their colleagues is another effective way to encourage professional development in the workplace. This kind of strategy allows employees to learn skills and knowledge they may not develop in their daily responsibilities.

To apply this kind of development opportunity, you can host a learning session where employees share their expertise and skills with other members of the team. It can be a short 30-minute discussion or take place over your team’s one-hour lunch break. Since this kind of format is more informal than traditional classroom learning, your employees won’t feel too pressured to instantly become masters at the topics being discussed. Also, the informal training creates a new opportunity for members of the different teams to get to know each other better, which can help them feel more comfortable to collaborate in the future.

Be a Role Model

As a manager, your team relies on you for guidance on how to be better at their jobs. Similarly, engaging in professional development activities yourself can encourage employees to follow your path. So, if you want your employees to enhance their skills, be a role model by continuously participating in various learning opportunities. In addition to motivating the staff, this kind of behaviour shows that your organisation values continuous improvement and learning among employees of all levels.

Provide Constructive Feedback

Regularly giving your employees feedback will help them become aware of areas they need to improve or focus on. When providing feedback, make sure to give them opportunities to learn from their mistakes. Instead of simply pointing out your employees’ blunders, for example suggest ways to correct errors and ask if your staff need any particular support to overcome challenges. Also, provide comments that will also define your expectation as a manager so employees can better understand their roles and how they can be more effective members of the team.

Recognise Accomplishments

As you encourage career development in the workplace, remember to recognise your employees’ successes every once in a while. It will allow each one of them to develop more confidence in themselves to overcome challenging tasks and to be more engaged with their goals. Do this by acknowledging members who have shown great improvements and high aptitudes in certain areas. If they’ve reached a development milestone that has had a significant impact on both the employee and the company, consider hosting a party to celebrate the occasion.

Employees who pursue professional development become valuable members of any organisation. They also get the opportunity to advance in their careers. But as a manager, encouraging your team to develop their skills and knowledge isn’t always easy. As such, remember to take note of the abovementioned suggestions. Finally, make sure you’re actively engaging in different growth opportunities yourself because the best way to motivate other people is to lead by example.

FG Editorial Team
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