Tips for creating an effective professional development program

Kerrie-Anne Chinn, Content & Editorial Manager

Recently, we’ve talked about the importance of professional development programs, as a way to help staff refresh or develop their skills while continuing to feel challenged, engaged and satisfied in their jobs.

Through the use of professional development programs, managers can work closely with employees to create individualized action plans, developed specifically to get staff from where they are right now to where they want to be in the future. These action plans are an essential tool for successful organizations, with significant benefits for both employees and companies, through increased engagement, productivity and performance.


We’ve already provided you with some helpful advice on how to develop an engaging professional development program, encouraging managers to apply a modern approach to professional development and take the time to talk genuinely with staff about their futures.

Want to make your learning and development programs even more effective for your staff? We’ve put together some top tips to help you create successful professional development programs for your team.

Provide Flexible Learning Options for Your Employees

When encouraging staff to engage in professional development and learning activities, it’s important they don’t feel overwhelmed, or as though they’ve just been given a whole lot of homework on top of their regular workload.

By providing your employees with flexible learning options they’ll be able to schedule professional development into their lifestyle, learning at a time and place that’s convenient and practical to them. With so many options available for e-learning, as well as the technology to support flexible learning, staff can easily access training and course materials online and on their mobile devices – whenever and wherever they want.

E-learning is also a great solution for employees who work remotely – from regional areas, other offices or from home – ensuring they have the same access to learning and development resources as staff who are situated in your company’s main office.

Cater for Your Staff’s Different Learning Styles

As a manager, you’ll no doubt be working with many different personalities and learning styles in your team, probably even more so if you manage a group of people from various different generations. While older employees may be content with training and development activities taking place in an all-day conference room, millennials will expect their learning tools to be faster, more relevant to their skills and job descriptions and predominantly technology-driven.

Make sure you cater for these different learning styles and match each team member’s development program to their individual preferences and expectations. Discuss this with your employees and find out how they like to take in information, and which kind of training works best for them.

Some people learn best when presented with information by a lecturer in a classroom environment; others retain less information in these group situations and may be better off working through online modules in their own space. Good managers will take the time to learn and understand these differences and help individuals to achieve their career goals in the best way possible, even if it means approaching things in a less traditional way.

Help Staff Keep their Skills Up-to-Date

Fast-paced advancements in technology mean learning and development tools are always changing, offering us more options and more solutions all the time. As a manager, aim to be aware of what’s going on in your industry, so you can pass this knowledge on to your team and help them take advantage of new opportunities and resources. With many industries, particularly IT and creative industries, moving at such a rapid pace, professional development needs to be considered as an ongoing process.

Help your staff keep their knowledge up-to-date by encouraging them to continually refresh and upgrade their skills. Whether they want to develop or refresh role-specific skills, or improve aspects of personal development, spending time on professional development will bring benefits back to the whole team.

Empower Employees to Take Charge of their Development

When working with staff on their professional development programs, you’re effectively encouraging them to take charge of their own career path. It’s a very important responsibility, with the ability to make a direct and positive impact on an individual’s future.

Throughout the process, you can help staff feel empowered in their choices, encouraging them to play an active role in their own self-development and learning.

Just as you play a role in coaching and mentoring staff, be sure the organization supports you and other managers in this important function. If you want employees to engage in learning and development, you’ll need to show that you’re actively pursuing your own personal learning journey as well. 

Learn More About Creating Good Professional Development Programs

For more help in creating professional development programs that work for your staff, take the time to do some learning of your own.

Online courses such as Managing Professional Development – Career By Design is created specifically for team leaders and managers, to provide you with the skills and techniques you need to develop yourself and your staff.

Similarly, Exploring Professional Development looks at how professional development offers greater opportunities for growth within an organization, increasing an employee's engagement and ultimately their performance.

If you haven’t already, be sure to read through the other articles in this series for more helpful advice on developing effective professional development programs for your staff.


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