Professional Development Shouldn’t Wait for Anyone But You

professional development HR

With rapid advancements in technology, employees expecting consumer-like experience and engagement, and the red-hot economy, companies are looking for ways to gain a competitive advantage with their people. This puts the spotlight directly on HR. Professional development is important for everyone, but it is especially critical for businesses to think about when creating learning and growth opportunities for an existing workforce. 

According to the Global Leadership Forecast 2018, published by DDI, 67% of Gen X leaders said they would like more external coaching and 57% want external development. The research also shows that CEOs are more concerned about developing “next gen” leaders than they are about any other issue, including cyber-security, global recession, and political uncertainty. And only 14 percent of CEOs say they have the leadership talent they need to execute their strategy. 

In a recent McKinsey survey, executives increasingly see investing in retraining and “upskilling” existing workers as an urgent business priority. Sixty-two percent of executives believe they will need to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their workforce between now and 2023 due to advancing automation and digitization. This is at the heart of training and development for your existing workforce. You’re going to need employees prepared to move up within the company. And when it comes to the responsibility for meeting CEO expectations, HR is at the center of any development strategy. To successfully level up your organization, your own professional development is key and this goes beyond maintaining SHRM certifications.

As HR leaders, we play a big role in making sure our team has support for ongoing learning, development and HR certification and recertification. We have budget line items for professional development, but also as HR leaders, our own learning plans often fall by the wayside. I like to use the “put your own oxygen mask on” analogy here: You have to be able to make time for your own learning and development so you have the most up-to-date information on trends and technology in our industry in order to steer your team toward improving their own skills. 

Additionally, your team is going to be more likely to seek development opportunities on their own if they see you doing the same. Professional development no longer follows a traditional model of seminars and panel sessions at conferences (while those are still quite relevant). At the leadership level, it’s become more and more common to seek out communities of other leaders in which you can learn and grow with peer support. This has been part of my own personal development, along with digital live events, on-demand learning, and in-person retreats. Through these channels, you can take control of your own career development and get the information you need to lead your HR team

There are many areas to focus on, but based on current trends the most important are:

 

– Practical application for the latest HR technology adoption and implementation.

– How robots and artificial intelligence are transforming the workplace. 

– Training your managers to lead and engage a remote workforce. 

– Recruiting and hiring in a very competitive job market using online advertising and social media. 

– Training and developing your future leaders and executive team (i.e. closing the skills gap).

 

A development model that starts with your own development in learning about what matters today and in the future to leaders in HR and extends through on-demand training that also covers the credits you need for SHRM recertification is the most efficient use of your time. Executive coaching and a community of like-minded HR leaders can help steer you toward the topics that are most relevant to your specific organization or industry.

The future of learning and leadership is personal. A program that allows you to choose what works best for your learning style, where you are in your career, and where you want to be, that is also flexible and empowers you to make decisions about what you want to focus on next is very different from how many of us have spent our careers in seminar or conference sessions led by instructors or panels. How many of us have time to travel and spend days away from the office these days? 

That’s what my HR career looked like for a long time (and I have the airline miles to back it up). As I’ve worked with coaching clients and as a consultant for HR leaders, professional and personal development consistently came up as a “nice to have if I have time” roadblock. It’s easy to tell someone to make time, but having been in that seat myself, I know how fast things move in our industry and how difficult it can be to stay on top of it. Instead, I encourage HR leaders to be thoughtful and selective about the methods by which they discover information. Webinars, on-demand online learning, podcasts, online communities and customized programs.

As I developed extensive resources for Workology’s learning coursework for certification exam preparation and Ace the HR Exam, the natural next step was to focus on how to repeat the same level of success for HR leaders. 

Workology’s Upskill HR Membership gets you up to speed quickly on the latest advancements and trends while connecting you to other HR practitioners to elevate your learning and personal growth even more. UpSkill HR also offers HRCI and SHRM recertification credits so that you can maintain your HR designation (bonus: without all the hassles and endless vendor emails and phone calls after you sign up for a free webinar or after attending a conference). 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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