The Importance of Employee Professional Development Goals

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The saying, “One should never stop learning” is vital to life. To stop learning is to stop growing – and investing in employees growth is vital to business growth, and frankly the sign of a company that truly cares about its employees. An important step in any type of growth is making and achieving goals, and professional development is no different: Professional development goals are critical to keeping you motivated, understanding where you’re headed, and figuring out how to get there.

In today’s climate of constantly changing skills, L&D programs are at the heart of creating and managing employee development goals. Helping your employees create those paths and enabling them to achieve those goals through coaching and mentoring are becoming increasingly important in a fast-changing business environment. It’ll go a long way in both developing your employees and your organization.

What Are Professional Development Goals?

Professional development goals are long-term career objectives. They’re roadmaps that can help steer an employee’s journey up the ladder, composed of achievement milestones and the competencies and accomplishments needed to advance to the next milestone. Professional development goals are a part of any employees – and often the organization – active investment in their growth journey. Developing the skills needed to reach the next step of the goal creates a motivated employee base that is actively invested in growing themselves and, in effect, helping the company grow and reach its goals.

In comparison, an employee development goal covers a much wider range of activities that apply to all workers. Employee development goals can include everything from onboarding production line workers to preparing a CEO for a public market offering.

There is one more distinction to make. Professional development goals are a subset of professional goals. This is an essential difference because development goals specifically require instruction. In contrast, a professional goal example can be moving to a larger organization, but this does not necessarily require an L&D program.

Why Are Professional Development Goals Important?

Setting professional development goals helps give employees a vague vision of what the next year, five years, and even decade, “should” look like in terms of their career aspirations. Encouraging employees to set professional development goals can help motivate them by understanding their own skill gaps and what they need to work on it order to reach their goals. L&D programs such as professional development coaching enable employees to receive one-on-one instruction and advice on their career path and the skills needed to get there.

How to Set Professional Development Goals? 

In the setting of an L&D program, setting professional development goals is part of the coaching or mentoring process, making it easy by working with a professional who often has decades of experience in them.

Setting professional development goals starts with the end goal. Without a target to aim for, employees are setting themselves up for failure. In L&D programs, this is also often the first step.

Next is identifying the employee’s skill gaps – any manager reviews and feedback are always helpful – and determining how to fill the gaps before moving on. A coaching sprint, a course, even reading a book on the gaps could be enough, depending on what the skills are.

An ambitious professional development goal can seem incredibly daunting, especially since the best practice is to start at the end and work your way back. The next step is breaking down the goal into achievable, weekly or even daily tasks that can be checked off on a regular basis. Finally, looking back on the progress made and celebrating even the smallest achievements keep the wheels turning and the motivation strong.

Relevant articles to check out:
> Employee development guide
> Examples of development plans
> 4 benefits of personalized employee development
> Measuring employee development

Examples of Professional Development Goals

Learn a New Skill

Whether improving current abilities, preparing to move vertically, or looking for a management role, skill development is an essential move for employees. Remember that ‘never stop learning’ is vital to upward career mobility. The trick is to know which skills to obtain. Determining which skills are needed can be learned from skilled professionals, especially in an L&D program, ensuring employees learn the needed skills to meet their professional development goals.

Expand Your Education

Upskilling is the process of learning, improving, and taking your skills to the next level in a certain professional area. This can be done through online courses, coaching, training, or self-teaching. In the realm of L&D programs, continuous professional development, or CPD, is one of the most efficient ways of upskilling, because employees are constantly learning and developing skills in the same or new areas.

Build Your Soft Skills

We’ve discussed the increasing importance of soft skills in the workplace and improving soft skills is also an important aspect of reaching professional development goals. In fact, according to LinkedIn, 92% of talent professionals reported that soft skills are at least as important as hard skills.

Creating an engaged workforce depends on managers who know how to motivate and communicate with employees, and employees who know how to communicate, manage their time and be productive.

Take on More Leadership Tasks

Many employees will include leadership development as part of their professional development journey. Another example of professional development goals is leadership development. Professionals who have developed other skills can use them to support a move into leadership. The key is to be prepared for the challenge by bolstering the skills needed for the new role.

How to Choose Professional Development Goals

Many professionals design and initiate their own development plans. With the plethora of resources available online, it is easy to independently research career paths and customize a course of action. Many people find it helpful to use common coaching models for goal setting, such as the famous SMART model, GROW and OSKAR.

L&D programs enable employees to focus on their day-to-day work while learning and meeting their goals with the help of a professional who’s done the same for myriad other employees. As mentioned, coaching, mentoring, and training are all helpful for setting professional development goals and for the benefit of the organization, as the goals can be directly tied to current and future business KPIs.

Make the Professional Choice

Thousands of L&D practitioners rely on the GrowthSpace platform to understand which skills are needed by their best performers and enable them to create professional development goals that better both employee and organization. GrowthSpace’s technology makes it possible for companies of any size to precisely define L&D requirements and locate top experts to provide training, coaching, and mentoring. Leading global organizations put GrowthSpace on their roadmap for professional development success – make it one of your goals to schedule a demo and see for yourself!

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