Offering professional development opportunities for your small team can help individuals perform better, boost your ability to compete for talent and create a stronger workplace culture. Your development plan doesn’t need to be complicated. Professional development is simply about helping people grow skills that support their work now and in the future. With a little thought, professional development can be easy and effective for your small team.
Personalise professional development
When there are only a few of you, professional development may only be considered if someone needs to build up new skills or improve current ones to do their job. And it's true that helping an individual develop their professional skills can allow them to bring more value to their roles. Professionals of instructional design often use the ADDIE model, which can help you focus training.
A = Analyse the objectives and other factors that should be considered for a person’s development.
D = Design the content that must be delivered to meet the objectives
D = Develop a programme of activity that serves different learning styles by putting everything together
I = Implement the training, ensuring that people have what they need to learn and can apply new skills as they go
E = Evaluate the learning against the objectives to ensure it’s ‘landed’.
Even for very small teams, a policy or process for professional development is valuable. It may be as simple as sitting down with each person to hear about their own goals and learning preferences each year and then working with them to create a personalised plan.
Professional development can help secure staff
Professional development opportunities are favoured by ambitious workers who are looking toward their futures. And so, ensuring you provide opportunities can increase the attractiveness of being part of your team. With smart professional development opportunities, you may be able to compete for staff that you couldn’t on price alone. If you’re willing to help coach someone up to the next level in their career, you may get some of the brightest stars.
Professional development shows a person that you value them enough to invest in them. Although it’s tempting to make professional development a reward, offering everyone the same opportunity can build broader motivation and commitment.
Nurture a growth mindset across your team
Ensuring professional development remains visible in your small team can foster a growth mindset in your workplace culture. Even if your staff don't expect to change their jobs or responsibilities, business rarely stands still. It makes sense to set an expectation that everyone builds skills and confidence in the changing environment. Technology is one area where people may learn just enough to get by. However, empowering them with new knowledge and confidence can lift productivity.
To ensure professional development is valued by staff, it needs to align with their personal goals for growth. For small businesses, this may mean giving each team member the choice of a learning opportunity within certain parameters, such as being within a set budget, adding direct value to their role and keeping under a certain time commitment. Encouraging people to share what they’ve learned with the rest of the team can help embed learning and allow others to gain new insights at the same time.
Bring professional development to life
Professional development doesn’t only come from going to training or courses. Buddy systems or setting up mentoring between staff is one way that your more experienced team members can help identify their most important skills. It also helps ensure you retain the knowledge of long-serving staff. Job shadowing opportunities can inspire people to stay in your team and help share insights across different functions in the business. Perhaps your admin person would be able to generate ideas or efficiencies if they could see what life is really like on the floor.
Creating a library of resources such as books, podcasts, and industry news allows people to explore and grow at their own pace. Attending industry events or having a guest visitor can help people build their interest and understanding of their work without feeling like they're completing homework.
Like most activities involving your team, communication is essential when it comes to professional development. If you'd like to bring more structure or intention to helping your team grow their skills, a Business Mentor can offer guidance. In fact, one of the top-5 most valued benefits of having a Business Mentor is helping to set up systems and processes. Professional development is only one example of where this might apply. To find out more, click here.