Team members have varying levels of appreciation when talk turns to ‘staff development’ -- some are ecstatic about the opportunity to learn, while others sigh with dread. The truth is that those who dislike the thought of professional development may only be looking at the opportunity at face value and not the bigger picture. 

There’s no need to spell out the benefits of professional development to the operation! Of course the goal of staff development is to learn and become a better employee, but many other advantages are possible through participation in development opportunities. These benefits often go unrecognized and can lead to more engaged learning. 

Here are seven underlying benefits gained beyond building knowledge that you can point out to staff undertaking professional development opportunities:

1.       Confidence and credibility: The phrase, ‘knowledge is power’ rings true. The act of learning provides new perspective and increased expertise in your field.

2.       Efficiency: The goal of most staff development activities, if not all, is to teach how to do something better. By mastering new skills, efficiencies are recognized.

3.       Ability to influence and lead: By using the knowledge learned with the confidence and credibility gained, the ability to influence and lead becomes less subjective and more about the facts and figures brought to the table. These opportunities provide a tool for more meaningful contributions to the team. 

4.       Network: Professional development opportunities conducted in group settings provide an added benefit of building your network. They also provide an outlet for individuals to brainstorm and seek feedback.

5.       Keep current: It is easy to become complacent and simply maintain the status quo. Employee development opportunities can shed light on new approaches and how to navigate through them.

6.       Achieve career goals: For many individuals, professional development is just a part of moving up the career ladder. Whether necessary for advancement or not, encourage it as a motivator for your team.

7.       Become a better employee: Enlighten staff that development opportunities are about getting more out of the work experience. Being the best they can be for the operation hopefully is reciprocated in things like better compensation, flexibility, perks, advancement and more!

Remember, the more professional the approach, the better received it will be. Employee development opportunities that are planned and executed in a professional manner show your employees that this is important and should be taken seriously. Consider an annual employee development plan. This can be developed in conjunction with staff and communicates to your team that staff development is important. Having a plan also helps make sure these opportunities don’t get pushed to the back burner.

Editor’s Note: Erika Osmundson, is Director of Marketing & Communications for AgCareers.com. She is a regular contributor to PORK Network and other Farm Journal Media brands. The upcoming Leadership Enhancement course offered by AgCareers.com, November 16 - 17 in Omaha, Nebraska will address developing leaders. For more information, visit www.AgCareers.com.