What are the elements of a good, healthy professional development program?

Readify has long had a Professional Development (PD) Program for its employees.  The program allows our staff to spend time learning and playing around with new technology and brushing up on skills – both soft and hard – in certain areas.  Because I have an interest in coaching and mentoring, the PD Program has always been something that I’ve been interested in, and so it was obviously quite an honour to be put in charge of managing the program early last year.  At Readify, the deal on PD goes something like this – each staff member gets 23 paid days per year to study and learn stuff and also to get out and present it to the public – it fits well with our company ethos of "Discover, Master, Influence".

Until quite recently, the PD Program was largely an unmanaged resource.  While the 23 days were taken out of the equation when it came to calculating resource utilization, we really didn’t have systems that allowed us to fully harness the potential of the resource or to effectively manage the knowledge that resulted from the program.

However throughout this year, we’ve invested a lot of time, effort, and money into these areas and I’m confident that, moving forward we will have a program that can deliver for us on many levels.  By getting more scientific in how we manage the resource, we will hopefully be able to give more targeted attention to the right areas in the future, thus driving satisfaction with the program higher.

Because we are now at the mid-point of the Australian financial year (which runs from July 1 – June 30) I’m starting to plan out the systems and processes we’ll have to manage the program next year.  In thinking about a PD Program, it’s very easy to get carried away with the intangible things but it’s very important to plan it out, just as you would for any other project.  Start with the stakeholders… 

You have the business which invests a great deal of money into a program such as this (N Consultants * 23 days * 8 hours * Billing Rate… do the math), and you have the consultants for whom such a program can have a direct impact their level of satisfaction.  So within the program, there needs to be stuff that is directly there for the business value, and there is also stuff that directly ties in to consultant satisfaction.  And obviously when these 2 things are aligned, you have a sweet spot.

I’m creating a category to place posts about my learnings from managing the PD Program at Readify, and hopefully I’ll have be able to share about my experiences in doing so and in the process, provide some insights into how to create a healthy professional program. 

Stay tuned!

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~ by D on January 9, 2008.

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