Three Quick Tips To Be Smarter

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Professional development is critical in the growth of every size organization. If you are not actively involved in such development, you are leaving money on the proverbial table.

Whether you are planning for a new fiscal year right now or just trying to decide whether someone can attend a specific event, development activities can be a real value for your business success – or a big waste of time and money.

Tip 1. Start at the Top

Your own professional development is critical to your success. How do you keep up with the changes in your field, your market, your business? Do you learn best by reading, by talking with others, by listening, or through experiential methods?

Conferences and professional meetings are great for those who learn best by listening and talking shop or participating in a more active setting. But you still have to be sure that the way any program is laid out works with your style. And the topics covered are those you value. Map out your strategy – do you know others who will attend with whom you can deepen your connection? Are there people you know you want to meet? Companies you want to discover more about? Speakers you would like to talk to? Plan your networking – and work your plan.

Depending on your style and what you need to develop, you may find reading in depth, keeping up with professional/trade publications, working with an advisor or coach, or taking an online course or a quick seminar are your best bets. But if you do not make your development a priority, it will not happen. Your choices are also a model for your organization.

Tip 2: Plan!

Don’t waste time or money. Do tie your plan to your business plan/ goals. Think about all the options and evaluate each in relation to:
– your short and long term business goals
– what you need or want to learn
– staying visible in your field
– becoming or staying visible to potential clients
– what you can afford to invest over a full year
– which options provide the most for your money

And, remember that this same exercise applies to those you might send staff members to as well. What is in it for your company, as well as for the person?

Tip 3. Spread development around your organization

Commit to upgrading your staff’s skills. Make it part of your culture. Add it to people’s goals or your performance management process. This helps ensure you have the talent and knowledge to enhance success. It also can reduce your turn-over, a cost saving.

Help people understand the wide range of potential options. Many folks default is that development means formal training. Not true! So learn what interests them, check to see it helps the person grow, and discuss ways to achieve the learning. Consider building up your supply of internal tools, webinars, and access to online courses. Perhaps you can budget specifically for each person or certain relevant programs. And don’t forget learning from experts in the company or your/their network too. Smart learning options are tailored to what methods work for the person and what knowledge is most useful to the organization’s future.

Don’t forget to check out all the great seminars and events the Alexandria SBDC sponsors too – free but mighty!

Teaching others helps us retain new knowledge. It ensures the organization benefits from the investment. And it demonstrates the value you place on growth. So, if you send a person to a seminar or pay for them to be active in a professional association – make it clear they must pass the knowledge on. This may be as easy as a memo or a brown-bag lunch. Or it may be important enough to discuss at a staff/function meeting.

And there you are – three tips for a more successful new year!

Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, HR executive, speaker, and author on human capital issues. She is known for her ability to address organizational goals and issues effectively and to create human resource management practices which support these goals without excessive administrivia. Patricia has advised executives and boards on a wide range of human capital and strategic planning issues. She has expertise in organization development, talent management, process restructuring, compensation, and training. She has worked with technology-based companies, government contractors, non-profits, associations, and retail operations. She advises small to mid-size organizations on ways to succeed and to help their employees thrive. Ms. Frame has given seminars for SBDC in recent years on the basic processes of HR management. Additionally, she generously provides one-to-one HR counseling once a month through Alexandria SBDC.