CPD – “It’s not just professional… it’s personal!”

I know it’s an overused, 1990s Hollywood phrase, but it works perfectly for this blog.

CPD for some is a necessary evil, a tick box exercise or an inconvenience. Some feel they don’t need it, are too experienced or view it as a fluffy HR initiative. To be continuously professionally developing is quite a clinical endeavour.    

There is a very important element that is overlooked in the sentiments above – ownership.

For the purposes of this article let’s re-define CPD in way that makes it more tangible:

Continuous Personal Development

The professional aspect should be inherent in all that is sought from this process but it perhaps misses the point of what CPD is all about – you.    

I meet various employers, operations managers and directors in my role, some of which work for a firm that has the desire to reach Chartered status. A strong CPD framework is essential to their operation. They will regularly voice the frustration that it’s not that they don’t train their staff or give them the opportunity for training. The difficulty stems from getting the staff to record, retain the trained knowledge and reflect on it.

It could be a language thing. Take ‘Training’ as an example. This is where we fundamentally go wrong as it immediately conjures up a feeling of bland, forced agendas and a perception of collective inadequacy among the teams being trained. Admittedly this paints a pretty demotivating picture. 

From my experience of facilitating sessions to over 6000 delegates over the years, I can be confident in saying that a member of staff with 10, 20+ years of service to the firm or sector is not interested in ‘Training’ – they are more interested in personal mastery and challenge. They may also feel that they are already at the top of their game so the need for a more tailored CPD plan is required here.

Conversely, a new recruit with no experience of the sector could be regarded as ‘in training’ but this stops at the moment of sign off.  They then require a CPD plan that makes them central to their own journey, as opposed to be being simply taken on a designated path purely led by the organisation. They must embrace their development and can only do this when it is personal.

Who said that all CPD was to be recorded posthumously? It shouldn’t be a reactionary mechanism that simply exists to prove that time out the office was worth it. Yet it is evident that in the majority of cases, the recording is done either in a cramming session of saved up events or certain aspects are given lip service due to time.    

CPD is created by the individual and the business can be as dynamic as it wants to be in facilitating their development through positive management.

The Development Zone has been designed to aid the process by allowing both users and supervisors the ability to record and set in motion CPD plans. These are used to agree, not only the activity content, but how will it be delivered, the objectives, the fundamental need on the part of the staff member and time allocated. All of this occurs before the task has been completed - you can map out a whole year in around 30 minutes of planning.

So if your firm has training plans on other systems, in folder trees or ad hoc word documents, utilising this facility on Dev Zone creates a one stop shop for personal achievement, performance management and, most importantly, opens up a clear line of communication between supervisors and learners to ensure CPD is given the personal attention it deserves.   

The last stage is the all-important completion of reflection to qualify the outcome.  Recently I have seen examples of CPD records handed back to the individual asking for all their reflections going back 12-18 months.  

Outcomes and reflections can inspire new needs and ideas for your CPD. Take them seriously.

Look at it this way - to take the P out of CPD is to disadvantage yourself, and it threatens professionalism.   

About the author

Stu has worked for over 20 years in the field of sales and service delivery across both local authority and private sectors. The majority of this time has been spent in the areas of Learning & Development consultancy and practice. His experience has seen him work with major brands in overseas operations and financial services, such as TUI UK, Aviva and Close Brothers. At RWA, Stu leads the learning and development proposition through My Development Zone, RWA e-Learning and RWA Training, working closely with the RWA development team in designing and innovating new L&D products whilst making sure our clients are maximising their own opportunities with our learning systems and internal training & competence.

Get RWA Insight In Your Inbox

Regular business news and commentary delivered direct to your inbox each week. Sign up here