Continuous Professional Development – Check!

I am all for continuous professional development (CPD) and I do believe that an ongoing process of learning is crucial for the progression of any career or profession.

Thus, I do understand that CPD aims at raising the standards of professions in a field of work.  CPD brings forth numerous benefits to both employee and employer, including amongst many others, that knowledge and skills stay relevant, that one keeps abreast with current standards and is also exposed/takes on new developments in that particular field.

But, there is one aspect of CPD I do not subscribe too – enforcing CPD to become one of the many other annual tasks on the company’s ‘to-do list’ coupled with providing tangible proof that it really has been checked off the list, with either a certificate of attendance or the submission of a note for record. No one gets to benefit from such exercises if they are imposed.  A certificate of attendance has no meaningful impact on the day-to-day responsibilities and duties.

Where is the real measurement of such CPD?

By engaging staff members to take responsibility of their own learning requirements is the way forward.  People will learn if they are interested and if they show interest to seek tools to develop/enhance their skills.  Thus, they will learn if they are willing to learn. Involving rather than imposing on an employee to reflect and plan his/her own learning requirements can also go hand-in-hand with a performance management system, if one is in place. Introducing short-term CPD goals, ideally set bi-annually and evaluated during the interim reviews, can be far more effective than annual goals. The evaluation of the CPD’s impact may be included in performance management.

As much as possible, allow employees develop their own personal approaches to CPD. HR and management should only provide the necessary assistance in this process.

Once training has taken place, an evaluation and reflection process on the course and its outcome is to be undertaken. What have we learnt and how am I and also my day-to-day work to benefit from it? The outcome of the development plan should be measured indirectly by reflection on the activities undertaken – looking at what was carried out, an assessment of its effect on their job, on the team and other stakeholders. Reflective thinking is also a method for professional development as it improves critical thinking and self-awareness.

If professional bodies really need more evidence of CPD engagement, auditing the process and outcome may be required. Yes, it is more challenging and time-consuming but the end-result will be by far much more effective.

About the author

Maria Bartolo Zahra is Managing Director of SurgeAdvisory. She has over fifteen years of human resources and business advisory experience.