Internal professional development leverages the resources and personnel of your business in an internal context to train and develop employees. External ways of hosting professional development outsource those resources and personnel, using an external context to train and develop employees.
Developing employees is a complex process, requiring a number of different techniques. Most companies will not use internal or external training exclusively, but will rely on a mixture of both of those. Let’s take at a few internal and external ways to host professional development, and weigh some pros and cons of each.
There’s also no firm distinction between internal and external professional development. If you attend a conference with a speaker, that’s external development. If you pay for a speaker to come to your conference room or company, that’s sort of internal development. But internal and external professional development tend to blend together.
Internal training can develop specific skills that your employees might need for advancement in the company. It is a powerful tool for controlling company culture and defining the ways in which your employees will grow. Standardizing the learning experience allows you to build specifically on the professional development.
One of the most important pieces of internal professional development is the onboarding process, including on-the-job training and any events or organized activities that help employees integrate with the community.
The onboarding processes also include a lot of internal, on-the-job training. These materials will have to be brought in and controlled by your company to make the process easier.
There are a number of simple rules that you should pay attention to when developing a workshop that is interactive. Interactive workshops can be great for a number of different types of professional development, like when you need to brainstorm or get employee participation. They might be less effective if you have clear and incisive things to communicate. Alternatively, if you have a basic idea or concept that needs to be communicated to your team, you might consider a less interactive workshop as a means of introducing it that will drive your business and professional development.
Not all kinds of online training are by definition external types of training. You might develop internal kinds of training materials for the professional development of your employees. This might be effective for things that can be repeated year after year. It also depends on the structure of your team; you might be able to designate someone to develop some internal, online professional development.
External training will probably cost the company more money in the long run, but might be worth it because it frees up the time and resources of other team members. If your business or company doesn’t have the departments to spare the time and energy to create training experiences, it may be best to outsource your training. Outside training brings some distinct advantages for your business.
Diversify Your Information and Perspective
New hires can be great for your company because they can bring new ideas, talent, and motivation to the workforce. But hiring new employees can be expensive–when you’re looking for new talent, try using a staffing agency to reduce costs. When you’re trying to get new ideas and talent without paying more for it, use external training to avoid those costs.
Classes and Online Education
Classes and online educational opportunities allow employees to engage new ideas in the context of your business, applying those new ideas to their problem solving and workload. Education also makes professionals happier by developing them in unexpected ways. If you always know exactly what your employees will learn before they embark on the learning journey, then how valuable can the information that they’re learning really be? The learning that brings incredible value to your company are the experiences that are unanticipated and not controlled by management. Let them develop in new and exciting ways and they’ll give back to your company in ways you couldn’t anticipate.
Specialist Skills and Experiences
You also might have some idea of exactly the kind of skills that you’ll need employees to learn. You might need them to learn a new software or technical process. They may need to understand how to accomplish something that you yourself aren’t quite sure how to do. In these cases, external training programs (or even specialized targeted online classes) might be the right choice for your team.
Remember that you may not always be able to clearly understand the kinds of training that your employees will need. What kind of professional development does your company need over the next five years to thrive? If you can’t answer this question clearly and succinctly, backing it up with data and profit margins, then you should look into hiring a consulting company or a consultant to help you determine what your company should focus on.
Conferences, Events, Retreats
Sometimes the whole staff needs a kind of getaway. Sometimes it’s best to take the whole staff to some sort of conference, speaker, event, or special retreat. While these events may be more ambiguous and not as targeted to the specific professional situations of your team, participation in an event run by another group helps the whole team come together as a staff. It avoids the odd power dynamics that can emerge from training done internally by the leaders or HR department. It helps everyone bond together.
Beyond Professional Development
Don’t neglect personal development. In today’s workforce, especially in the gig economy, people’s work-life balance is breaking down. Instead of a balance, people are finding flow and integration with work and life. Because it’s about the blend, it’s important to remember that “professional development” will increasingly become integrated with personal development.
People don’t just take up graphic design to increase their work skills, they’re looking for fulfillment from graphic design. That new coder may enjoy coding for its own sake as well. Professionally develop an employee’s lifestyle and it will not only increase their happiness as a person but can only help your business. Lifestyle goals and new personal resolutions matter.
Training is typically thought of as a way of imparting new skills or critical skills onto employees. But really, training is a desire to increase the overall efficiency and effectiveness of your business. Since this is the case, training serves the broader purpose of managing happy, healthy, savvy employees. Professional development should always work with the individual career goals that the employee has set for themselves. Because work and life is blending more often, “training” may include things like a corporate book club, team class on meal prepping and cooking, and a workshop on meditation.
Professional development is important. If you’re an employee who feels that your company doesn’t care about your professional development and you feel stuck in your job, it may be time to consider some job search tips and begin searching for a new job.
As an employer, focus on the professional development of your team. If you need to expand the team or find some extra people to free up your staff for more development, consider working with a staffing agency and request help getting talent.