I have been on both sides of discussing the value of professional development. As a member of our local school board this issue often arises due to a question of cost. Is it worth it or is it really needed for our teachers and administrators? As an employee and as a school board member I have had the fortune to attend several professional development seminars. I can say without hesitation that the value I have received as an attendee at various events has been more than made up for the cost of the event in one of following areas: Ideas, THAT I IMPLEMENTED, that increased revenue, reduced costs, increased efficiency which lowered costs, or increased quality which increased revenue or at least gave a perceived increased value to our customers.
This is not to say that all professional development opportunities are created equal. We have all heard of those boondoggles where very little content is offered and more of a good time has been had. I believe these are the exception rather than the rule and in this economic environment those types of events will continue to decline. Those of you who are tasked with sending people to professional development events must do your homework to ensure you are getting the most for your or your company’s hard earned money.
If you as an individual have any hope of succeeding in a competitive environment you must continually invest in yourself and your career even if you have to pay for these opportunities with your own money. If you do not I guarantee that there is someone out there who will and they will eventually have your job.
There are many types of professional development opportunities to choose from. Some of the major categories include technical (specific to your field), managerial, leadership, motivational, communication (verbal, written), and computer applications. They are all valuable and will play varying degrees in your success depending on your professional objectives. Start with what you believe is your biggest weakness or possibly what the greatest challenge your business or industry is facing.
Attending professional development seminars are completely worthless unless you take action and implement what you have learned. This is where most people fail. They get excited about new ideas and strategies that they have learned but as soon as they get back to their job they fall back into their daily rut. As an employer I require all employees that attend off-site training to submit a short summary of what they learned and how they will utilize their newfound knowledge to improve their or our business’s performance.
Professional development is what you make of it. Your skills and knowledge are the most important and valuable assets you have. Continually invest in yourself and dare to be great.