RL Morgan photo   Rebecca L. Morgan, CSP, CMC - People-Productivity Expert
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Rebecca's 5-Step Process

Long-lasting professional development does not come cheaply or without thoughtful effort. But the alternatives -- none or poorly conceived and executed activities -- can cost many times more. For you to get the highest ROI, many elements need to be determined -- from determining clear, achievable objectives, to a plan for reinforcement.

Based on her more than 20 years in the professional development field, Rebecca has seen some programs that work, and many that didn't. She doesn't want you to waste your time or money. Rebecca developed a 6-step process to ensure success:

1. Conduct needs assessment.

Determine what weÕre trying to accomplish: Leadership succession? More customer-focused staff? A more cohesive team? It's critical to identify the needed skills for the target group or individual to succeed.

Assess if the culture encourages -- or sabotages -- professional growth. How is professional development fostered? How are training opportunities determined? What other development methods are employed? How are the new skills nurtured and reinforced? How does the organization support time for development? How is individual professional development tracked and rewarded?

Gather feedback on each personÕs performance via a 360-degree assessment or other methods and build individual development plans.

2. Determine measures.

Establish key ways to measure improvement in the target groupÕs or individualÕs behavior. How will you see the results of the new or strengthened skills? How often will this be measured? How and what metrics will be gathered before the plan is launched?

3. Design learning process.

Determine if group or individual learning processes are better. If group sessions are optimal, offer optional self-study resources for those needing/wanting more development outside the group sessions. If group sessions would be best, create appropriate delivery mechanisms based on the needs of the target group (e.g., in-person group seminars, manager-led structured discussion guides for team training, teleseminars for remote groups, group video-learning coupled with discussion, individual study with manager, e-learning, tests for ability to apply information).

4. Implement long-term solution

One-time hits are rarely valuable for the time and money involved. For longer-lasting results and higher ROI, development must take place over time. For example, 2.5 hour in-person seminars every other week for 9 months, 30-minute manager-led discussions at staff meeting, 1-hour teleseminars every other week, 1-hour group video-learning brown bag lunch sessions.

5. Develop follow-up/reinforcement process.

Follow-up/reinforcement is critical to long-lasting development. With the target audiencesÕ manager(s) outline a plan for internal coaching and feedback sessions. This could include bi-weekly individual coaching of participants, monthly teleseminars with all participants, quarterly in-person refreshers, or 6-month 360 feedback to determine if behaviors have changed.

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