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The Gift of Professional Development

Written by: Betsy Kauffman, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

As a leader, what is the best gift you could give your team this holiday season? Especially with holiday parties taking a hiatus this year, why not give your employees the gift of professional development?

While annual raises and monetary compensation are always appreciated, investing in your employees through professional development can really go the extra mile in showing how much you value their contributions.


To maximize this investment for you and your employees, you need to ensure several things are happening.


Be aware of and remove any barriers. What good is the gift of a professional development training or workshop allowance or budget for each employee if they cannot find a way to attend? These barriers could come in the form of project managers not allowing them time to attend their training or being overloaded with work and inflexible deadlines. They feel they cannot take time away from their normal tasks to participate in crucial professional development. This leads to our next point on how to avoid these scenarios…


Create a culture of professional development. Breed a culture of lifelong learning and openly encourage employees to continue to hone their skillsets—and broaden them with new skills. It shouldn’t be a source of tension for someone to approach their manager and inquire if they could attend a workshop or webinar if they feel it would increase their job competency. Obviously, there are times when specific projects or deadlines prohibit individuals from attending certain workshops, but the manager should be open to sending his team to relevant professional development trainings as they become available.


Develop your own internal professional development program. This seems like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. This is not to say you need to reinvent the wheel or write your own training curriculum or workshops. This could be as simple as buying a bulk license for all employees to access online learning platforms, like Lynda.com or LinkedIn Learning, to acquire new skills or review the most up-to-date best practices in their current expertise. Some companies use courses on these platforms and group them into their own internal program tracks and award certificates and publicly recognize those who complete each track. And it doesn’t just have to be hard skills—soft skills such as conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, and effective communication can be excellent workshop offerings.


Leaders, if you don’t take the time to invest in and develop your team members, someone else will! If you want to attract and retain top-tier talent, you need to give them the opportunity—and budget dollars—to add skills to their expertise. That kind of support often breeds extremely loyal employees.


I am curious to hear what unique course topics you have taken in the past and what you may have learned during those workshops. What was your biggest takeaway from a professional development conference, training, or workshop?


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Read more from Betsy!

Betsy Kauffman, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Betsy Kauffman is a globally recognized Leadership and Organizational Agility Coach with more than 20 years' experience working in Fortune 500 companies. Her company, Cross Impact Coaching, helps leaders create innovative, aligned, disruptive organizations. Betsy has observed and worked side by side with hundreds of CxO leaders. She has seen just about every variation of how Leadership Teams operate and execute (both successfully and not so successfully). She deeply understands and has experienced firsthand when the team of individuals charged with leading the organization aren't aligned, focused, and working as one; the rest of the organization suffers. She is a published author providing thought leadership to both agile and project management communities and speaks internationally on leadership, corporate culture, and organizational agility. She just completed her first TED talk - “How To Have Open and Honest Conversations at Work” in September 2020 in conjunction with the TED@PMI partnership and was selected by the TED editors to have her talk highlighted on TED.com in the near future – stay tuned for more details!

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