What You Need to Know When Planning Your Professional Development

Posted by Craig Thornton

Business experts are talking about a massive digital transformation for business over the next 12-24 months. Some businesses will leap ahead with technology and some businesses will be left behind. 

Where does that leave you? Do you need to upskill? What value can I bring to the table?

Therefore you need to think "what does all this mean for my Professional Development?" 

Fortunately our Mango Partner in Cairns in Australia, Ben O'Donoghue from Total Management and Training is an expert in Professional Development. 

In this video, I discuss with Ben how do you get the right PD, at the right time.

This idea comes from an ongoing series of blogs that originated from "26 Ideas for Working from Home for Compliance Professionals".



Video Transcription


In these times of COVID-19 and lockdown, what's your suggestion on doing good professional development Ben? What do you suggest people do?


There are four key steps to think about.

  1. Choosing the right Professional Development (PD) for you.
  2. How to complete your PD? What are the options available to you?
  3. How you can do that self-directed professional development? How can you achieve it yourself to try and get yourself targeted down the path you want to go?
  4. Teaching yourself to teach yourself. 


1. Choosing the Right Professional Development


What's that first step about?


Choosing your PD to complete.

That was the first one, my first topic was making sure it's relevant.

I'm probably going to talk a little bit about business relevancy today, but this will be personal professional development as well, because obviously, we're moving into quite an unknown future for a lot of businesses, so what does it look like?

A lot of us are transferring over to technology-based systems now. We're now looking more at Tech.

A lot of our guys have had to really upskill very quickly in video conferencing techniques, in development of documents in digital platforms, sharing documents, where they probably never had to do it themselves too much. They relied on someone more IT savvy like myself to do it. They're now learning these techniques themselves.

The next one is checking how reputable that training is.

If you are going to do a formal structured delivery, what does that look like?

Don't just go to the first free course that pops up on Facebook.

There's probably going to be a heap of free MBAs being thrown at you at the moment. Therefore it might be worthwhile looking deeper into it. "Jim's MBA Academy" is probably not the best place to go and get your MBA. Nothing against Jim, but do a little bit of background checking first before I select that as the program I might want to undertake. Check government regulators make sure that he hasn't got anything against him or against that company, and just see if that is a legit course, that its actually going to be recognised by people out there in the field.

Check even the smaller courses. Reason I'm probably mentioning the smaller ones, I don't know if everywhere is doing this, but I know in Australia, there's at least a couple of states where the local TAFE's have put up quite a few free micro credential courses. So they're that really tiny skills, it might be cyber security, or it might be something on just fixing up your resume. So they're really small courses but they’re really trying to help in this sort of pandemic situation that we've got at the moment,

One thing I will suggest to people, and one I've really pushed to people to have a look at, is a really good one called code.org.  Now it is built around computer coding, but it's all in sort of a teaching you how to solve problems way. That's one I'd really push people towards because moving forwards in the IT world. Your ability to understand how computers operate and stuff like that could be a real perk, especially to people in manufacturing. That's where I can see those sorts of things heading, so just doing some of that sort of PD could be a really good idea.


2. How do you want to complete your PD?

There's a few options here.

You can go with a fully online option via a website. That's what the majority of providers traditionally have always had.

Now, there's a lot of shift in this at the moment.

Traditionally, we've always had the guys that are just doing - and we're probably guilty of this a little bit as well in our organisation - we'll put up a website with all of the content on it. There might be videos, there'll be some resources for you to read, and then there'll be some quizzes and assignments. That is one delivery mechanism.

But what we know from our student side of things is that that flexibility is fantastic, as long as you can be regimented in yourself enough to actually complete that stuff.

We find that if we left our students to their own devices, probably only about 20% would be able to get through purely with no input from us. So, we need to help out that other 80%.

And that's why you're probably looking at the second delivery mechanism, which is your virtual classroom meeting type delivery.

You've got all your online content like the first one, but then you've got some sort of connected delivery with a trainer. And that trainer is either like we're doing now, or it's going to be via a one-on-one session, phone call, anything as long as there's some contact and guidance for the trainer we find that really ramped up our completion to 80+%, but we have particular programs in place to make sure we have that contact.

So that's one I push people towards, making sure there's that contact with that expert that is there to help you along your way.

Now, a couple of things to be wary of and this actually happened yesterday, I got a phone call on this. A company was offered an online chainsaw course.


Wow. That's impressive.


Fully online, apparently.

We got a call from a mate of ours, one of his subsidiary offices actually, they weren't looking at doing the course but they had the offer, and they rang him and said, 'What do you reckon about this?' and he rang us. And basically, when we've found out the details, the guy delivers the training virtually, but then he actually says to them 'off you go and do some practice yourself now.'

There's no supervision of the practical aspect.

I looked at that and when I think about it, health and safety is still a core part of what's going on now, so there is no way in hell that I would let one of our guys go out and do a practical chainsaw, without someone standing there watching them do it, that's just insane. I just couldn't believe that.


Right, watch out for that.


I guess it's making sure you pick and choose the right ones as well, and make sure you're not going to pick something that's going to hurt someone. It is something to keep in mind.


3. How Do You Achieve Self-directed Professional Development

Not everything you want to learn is going to be a course.

There may not be a course in the exact thing you want to learn, and I've got a good example of this.

I had to do some emergency plans for a company. Now, my background isn't in health and safety, by default. I've got some experience there, but I needed to go and find the information myself and actually teach myself about that topic.

I went through a bit of a process for teaching myself about a particular thing that I couldn't find a course that suited me. And what I did was I went to trusty old Google, like we always do. But that's just my first stop. I go there, find Google, find a list of sources that I can use to give myself some base information.

I then start looking at where that information’s come from, and I start rating that information sources on a bit of a scale for myself on how credible is that provider?
If it's a regulator from my local government, then I'll give it some pretty high credibility that it's the correct information I should be reading.

If it's just emergencyplans.com, I might look at it and go, right they probably do emergency plans, but I might want to go and cross reference their information with someone else's to ensure that it's not just them trying to sell their wares or something like that.

It's making sure you get back to the standards, and not just believe ISO9001.org or something like that. You're always going to check on your different ones.


You’re looking for verification, to say that what they're going to deliver is spot on.


Yep, and then the next step would be collating the information.

Now you've got your valid resources, you collate your information, and go, which ones are talking about the same stuff, especially based on that credibility. If that credibility was good, and then this other side over here is saying the same thing as the good credible site, then more than likely, they're information is something I can trust and follow along.

I still want to try and get other sources to back it up, so I've got that cross referencing, but that's how I then move forwards.

From there, the learning really happens when I build resources.

This might be building a checklist, or it might be building a ready reckoner for someone else in the organisation to follow.

We do this in training all the time. We say the best way to learn is to teach someone else.


4. Teach Yourself to Teach Yourself

So, it might be jumping onto a video call, and I've been doing a lot of this recently teaching people how to use Zoom meetings, and Go-to-meetings.

Teaching people the platform is the best way to learn the platform yourself. This works for anything across the board. For eample, for emergency plans, I built myself a checklist that goes through the standard, the regulations and everything else, that's how I taught myself.

So I can almost be able to just say anything off the cuff about emergency plans. If I don't remember it, I can go back to my little checklist and all my contents there, and I know I can trust it as a good source.

That's what I always say, that's how I teach myself a new topic, and I seem to hit that all the time I have to teach myself.

So, yeah, that was my key points that I was going to go through


I like that last idea, teaching yourself to teach yourself. That's a great suggestion.


That's a skill we see is missing in a lot of our trainees. They rely so much on us to present them with the information, they sometimes forget that you can go and look it up yourself as well. It's one of those things, especially in your space.


Have you seen an uptick, during this pandemic, of professional development, people reaching out and asking for more professional development or is it just sort of people just hunkered down waiting for the lockdown to open up?


We're getting a bit of both.

At the start of it, it was a bit of a panic station where no one knew, especially from a financial point of view, what was going to be happening, so the PD side wasn't too critical for them at that point.

Now there's, and I know our government's done a great job of providing some surety there with payments coming out, and job keepers, and job seekers and all these new payments they're putting out there. which is really put some surety back into people, and literally as of this week, we are fully booked with training.

We have about probably six weeks of postponed courses to later when we knew what dates would be suitable.

But as of this week, we've got an online delivery in the room next door and that's up into indigenous communities, up in the Cape, who are completely cut off from everyone, there is no traveling in and out of those locations.

We've got a working in heights course at the other end of the building. Now that is being delivered in-house, obviously taking into account all the social distancing requirements and everything else.

But we're actually finding tomorrow and the next day, we have two more practical courses for working around asbestos. Those are still cracking on, so training wise, in certain industries, I believe has really continued on. The industries that can keep operating have continued on.

We've had an increase in people wanting to do the online only Cert 4 in Work Health and Safety, but, again, this is probably temporary.

What I was saying before some of these people wouldn't necessarily be the most suitable for an online only attempt. They’re probably just looking at doing something, and a couple of them we've spoken to and said, ‘Look, it'd be better if you wait until you can come to a class,’ because when you look at their LLN skills, and everything else, jumping from no qual to straight up to a Cert 4 that's quite a jump for people to undertake.


Well, thanks Ben, that's really great, that's fantastic advice.

Thanks for your time. I much appreciate it and enjoy the rest of your day.

Thanks again for your time.

Tags: Compliance, Professional Development, 26 Ideas for Working from Home