Only 29 percent of organizations have a defined learning and development (L&D) plan for their employees. Considering that 87 percent of millennials say professional growth and career development are very important, the lack of learning and development provided by companies is remarkable.
To clarify, we’re not just talking about training here; career development has a different purpose than skills training.
“Training fills in a gap, but development looks to the future and growth of the company and employee,” says Steve Hawter, vice president of learning and development at The Learning Experience.
In my experience, it is absolutely worth it to find a company that will invest in your career development (or to convince your boss to start prioritizing development more!). Career development training puts you on a trajectory toward your dream job, turns that job into a more fulfilling career, and is great for your company as a whole. Read on to learn why career development training is worth the investment for everyone and how to convince your boss to make the investment.
Choosing a career development program is a great experience in and of itself. It gives you the opportunity to be introspective and develop a proactive attitude about your career path. While most of your development over the course of your career will be through informal experiences, the formal process of choosing a course can be a powerful foundational experience.
Choosing a program starts by conducting a self-evaluation. What are your long-term goals? What are your skills? Where are there gaps in your education or experience? Once you have answered these questions, create a medium- to long-term plan of action. Since 54 percent of employees would spend more time learning if they had specific course recommendations to help them reach their career goals, it may be helpful to meet with a mentor. They can work with you as you conduct your initial evaluation and continue to participate in developmental activities.
For example, two of our employees had a series of individual conversations about career development programs with the CEO of Silicon Valley Insight (SVI), Philip Philippides, who holds a degree in organizational behavior.
“My meetings with Philip highlighted the servant leadership concept,” Marcos Gonçalves, SVI’s senior vice president of delivery, tells me in an interview. “He led by example, putting me, as an employee, in the spotlight. This approach empowers employees to accomplish more-complex tasks they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”
Once you have your plan, it’s time to select a career development training course that your organization can sponsor for you. This could be joining a professional organization, attending conferences, or participating in a third-party career development course to learn new hard and soft skills.
“In the twenty-first century, and especially in the tech area, soft skills are becoming more relevant to any new business’s success vectors,” Marcos says. “So I’ve wanted to keep myself aligned with the market trend and decided to take an international coaching certification.”
Bryce Garoutte, SVI’s vice president of business development, followed a similar decision-making process.
“We came up with a shortlist of top priorities together, but Philip had me take ownership of the process,” Bryce tells me. “I didn’t know what I was doing, but he advised me to come up with some ideas and goals, and we worked together to narrow down the list until we decided on the best training course for me.”
Whatever you choose, it’s important that you have agency in the process, especially since, statistically, you’re likely to be among the 85 percent of employees who “want to choose their own training times and remain in control of their training schedule.”
“I’ve never experienced such a structured training experience before (besides onboarding). It was refreshing,” Bryce says. “Philip was facilitating the process, giving expert insight and wisdom, and asking questions. But I was in charge of my own development program and choosing my own career goals.”
Career development training has immediate effects on your job that can, in turn, benefit your career in the long term. As you learn applicable skills, your work performance improves, boosting your self-esteem and improving your morale. With purposeful career development, you are better poised for future leadership positions and are empowered to continue forward on a good trajectory. Since 74 percent of employees feel they aren’t reaching their full potential at work due to a lack of development opportunities, this is great news!
To put himself on a better trajectory for future career aspirations, Bryce chose to complete the two-day Dale Carnegie training called High Impact Presentations. There were insightful presentations, plenty of opportunities to practice presenting and watch your presentations on video, and excellent constructive feedback from peers. But while his communications skills instantly improved, Bryce also took away principles that are benefiting other aspects of his professional life as well.
“The video component of the course made me realize how valuable instant feedback is, and I’ve already implemented that,” he says. “If I’m doing something where I don’t feel completely confident in my performance, I film myself and watch it back to get instant feedback.”
Marcos chose the international coaching certification because he wanted to improve himself as a leader (not just as a manager) to empower his colleagues and bring out the best in them.
“With the new mindset and skills provided by an eight-day immersive experience, I believe I've unlocked strong coaching practices that will allow me to boost the best in our SVI colleagues,” he says. “My main goal is to spark the coaching approach in each person in the company so they can also do coaching to other elements; we only live through the community values, like helping each other!”
With ROI and high-pressure decisions taking up most of your boss’s attention, it’s likely that investing in employee career development is simply not on their radar. But if it’s something that you want to pursue, here are six benefits you can share to help convince them that it’s worth the investment:
“In a small but growing company, it’s rare to take a structured approach to learning and development and be willing to invest in your employees,” Bryce says. “With leaders that have done this for decades, training hundreds of employees, SVI is unique in this regard.”
Knowing how valuable career development training is, it’s time to find a company that will invest in yours! Career development training puts you on a trajectory toward your dream job, turns that job into a more fulfilling career, and is great for your company as a whole. Talk to your boss about career development training, or if you’re ready for a new challenge, join us at SVI, where we invest heavily in our people and provide them with the flexibility required in this day and age.