Investing in the Lifecycle of Professional Development

When considering employee investment, we tend to think of helping workers after they’ve been hired. Actually, there is so much more to professional development.

In truth, the processes behind targeting, recruiting, and hiring the right personnel for the right positions in your agency are the first few steps in the lifecycle of professional development. Richard Spires, Chief Executive Officer of Learning Tree International, argues that govies’ personal and professional development is a lifecycle process that can only benefit all parties involved as long as it is managed properly.

Spires sat down with Christopher Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER to discuss government’s important role in fostering professional development and how best to go about it.

Investing in the lifecycle of government workers’ professional development is a sure way to improve your agency’s retention rate and recruitment process. That’s critical, according to Spires. “We are in a war for talent and people want to go to organizations where they feel valued and where they feel like they can grow,” he said. In so doing, you are also “making people the most important thing” and that isn’t something to take lightly.

There are many ways government can invest in their employees’ professional development. The first step any agency needs to take is to open up the dialogue to find out how the agency can best approach development holistically. A big part of this change requires a change in mentality.

Drawing from his previous experiences as Chief Information Officer at the Department of Homeland Security and the Internal Revenue Service, Spires shared that “a CIO is only as good as the people, their skills and abilities, that he/she surrounds themselves with.” Therefore, agencies need to foster an environment that enables individuals to grow.

Then, agencies must prepare their managers to not only place the right people in the right job assignments upfront, but also coach and mentor employees in their personal growth throughout their tenure. Managers can best go about this by assisting their employees in creating individual professional development plans. Managers can incorporate these in their performance review process. Institutionalizing these plans can help managers better engage with their employees if they have truly done what they discussed doing and whether or not they are on the right track to complete their five year plan (you can choose a different kind of measureable increment, but a five year plan seems to work best for both a shorter and long-term plan).

In the end, “People may want more money, but binding them [to the agency] by making them feel important through the promise that you are going to continue to up their skills, to be able to take on new challenges, really makes people feel very valued,” Spires said. Investing in your employees’ professional development and viewing it as a lifecycle process will not only be a service to them, but it will also further success in your agency through employees’ newfound motivation. So, invest in the lifecycle of professional development and you will be investing in our government!

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