Increasing the competency and effectiveness of employees is usually the driving factor behind a company's decision to either offer or require professional development. But these programs can also boost morale by positioning participants to advance their careers through acquiring new skills or gaining insight into an area of the company they might be unfamiliar with. And being selected to travel to a conference can make an employee feel special or rewarded for his or her hard work.
But managers have to balance these benefits with the costs associated with such programs. Class or instructor fees, travel expenses, downtime and lost productivity are just some considerations to make. Another is the applicability of the particular program. Is it really necessary? Will it have a measurable impact on day-to-day operations? Will the staff be able to participate while juggling their normal workload?
Determining what's best for the business will dictate whether a particular program is adopted, but employees interested in these opportunities can bolster their case with examples of how the experience will make them more competent or efficient. Many professional workshops, seminars and online classes offer testimonials demonstrating how attendees have benefited. For example, the Disney Institute, an intensive professional workshop designed to educate participants on the business strategies that have helped bring Disney success, devotes portions of its Web site to sharing success stories of how graduates from the program have benefited through participation.
As professionals become more and more specialized, and as companies narrow their core offerings, the importance of staying current on the latest developments is increasingly important. Professional development programs, whether an online class about harnessing the power of social media or a live conference with expert speakers, are a great way to stay competitive in an ever-changing professional landscape.
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