How long is a piece of string? Sometimes, that’s how measuring professional development success feels – a question with a never-ending answer.
Though there are many ways to measure professional development success and some are more cut and dry than others.
In this article, we’ll offer suggestions to measure PD from a variety of angles so that a better picture of an individual’s professional development success can be formed.
Just remember that PD is about creating worth. The idea is that employees feel personal and professional improvement and that a business can enjoy its increasing value.
To get things started, let’s first look at a definition of professional development to make sure we’re reading from the same page.
Professional development, often shortened to PD, is a catch-all term for the variety of training and academic and workplace education that is intended to improve the knowledge and skills of employees and therefore improve their performance.
Professional development is a huge benefit for employees because it provides an easy way to improve their career outlook. Gaining new abilities to put on the CV should never be sniffed at! As well as this, the sense of personal growth to be gained from PD is also an important factor in keeping a workforce happy.
It’s a win-win for employees and employers!
The most straightforward way to measure professional development success is to assess whether an employee met their Personal Development Goals (PDGs).
Most companies implement a personal development goal process that staff set at various dates throughout the year and are then reviewed at some point down the line.
These PDGs could be broken into three distinct sections; learning, connecting and creating. Perhaps an employee wants to improve their project management skills, get to know more people in the company by joining a group, and create something they own by beginning their own blog.
Have these goals been met?
What can be pointed at to prove this?
Though this route seems a little rigid, it offers the clarity of “yes” and “no” answers.
Pre-testing shows the employer the level of their employees’ job understanding before they go on their PD training course. The results from the pre-test can then be contrasted against a test after training.
The information obtained will determine whether the employee has gained the sufficient level of knowledge expected from them and whether there are still any points that need to be worked on.
To make sure that employees don’t feel like they’re at school, employees can personally discuss the employee’s strengths and weaknesses.
While testing gives us insight into the knowledge learning of an employee, it doesn’t necessarily tell us whether they are using this knowledge on the job or not. Make sure you follow up on the tests to see how these abilities are applied.
In a formal setting, invite team members in to speak about each of their colleagues. Ask what it is that team members offer to the team and what they could work on.
Do they communicate well with others?
Do they understand their role?
What could they improve upon?
Speaking to team members gives employers and view into the working lives of their employees that they may otherwise not receive. Just remember that this is a professional setting – this isn’t a time to gossip but a time to offer praise as well as constructive criticisms.
To really see whether your employees have developed professionally, shadowing may be necessary. For example, an employee may have set a PDG for improving their problem-solving. Shadowing an employee offers a window into this change. How do they go about solving unexpected issues? Have they used what has been learned? Do they panic or do they act?
One of the benefits of this route is that when discussing any of your employee’s strengths or weaknesses later, you are able to work from the information you have gathered yourself. It isn’t secondary sources, there is no confusion.
If you’re in the sales business, then the number of sales an employee makes is a fairly obvious means to evaluate their success in the workplace.
Though metrics like these may seem crude and ineffective to gauge “soft skills”, for the hard and fast figures in a corporate world, there is no more effective method.