Are there areas of your workforce where you want to see improvement, but you don’t know where to start? Perhaps your employees’ job performance is only passable, and you’re ready to see outstanding. Setting professional development goals for your managers is a strategic way to achieve greater productivity and quantifiable results.
Professional development is a win-win for you and your managers. As your managers advance in their careers, you benefit from a motivated workforce with an up-to-date skill set. Specific goals, when accomplished, elevate the performance of your entire team, through enhanced communication, productivity and retention.
Before you put new initiatives in place, first become clear on the meaning of a professional development goal. Take concrete steps to make a professional development plan and work with your team to make it happen.
[FREE TEMPLATE: Professional Development & Peformance Goals Checklist]
What Is a Professional Development Goal?
Every employee should be encouraged to grow on the job. Professional development goals are employee or management-led objectives to accomplish during a particular time period. A professional development goal may be job specific, such as to complete cross-training with another department. A goal might also be more general, such as to participate more in professional organizations or demonstrate certain skills or behaviors back on the job. Goals are typically discussed and set either during employee performance evaluations or on a quarterly basis.
How Do You Make a Professional Development Plan?
A professional development plan is usually done in collaboration with your human resource department to create a set of objectives that are employee-specific. Both you and the manager should identify potential areas of improvement. An already successful manager who wants to expand his or her responsibilities should outline specific areas where he or she would like to further contribute to the company.
You can use several different techniques to support employees in reaching these goals. Identifying not only the goal, but also actions, gives managers a clear path to achievement. These may include formal training, mentoring from a senior employee or delegation of an important project that challenges the manager's skills. Professional development plans represent an investment in employees, which they should reciprocate with increased dedication to the organization.
There is an art to establishing objectives for your leaders, so make sure that the professional development goals you set are:
- Clear – Managers should easily understand the goals they're working toward and why those goals are necessary.
- Measurable – The ability to identify progress encourages employees and boosts confidence.
- Realistic – While goals should be challenging, they should also be achievable.
- On A Timeline – When goals have beginning and end points, team members work to reach the finish line.
- Rewarded – If a goal is achieved, it’s essential to give recognition. This heightens employee confidence and encourages further progress.
Once you understand how to set goals, focus on the various areas of improvement. The following six goals are structured to help your managers advance productivity and develop into stronger leaders.
Professional Leadership Development Goals
1. Enhance Communication
Achieving communication goals doesn’t just benefit your managers; it helps their entire team. You know how greatly poor communication slows your productivity, so this area should always be on your list of professional development goals. Invest in a management training program that focuses on communication and that teaches your managers how to be clear and concise with their verbal and nonverbal interactions.
2. Hone Coaching Skills
Coaching employees comes easily to some managers, but it’s a learned skill for others. You want your employees to succeed and eventually move up through the company. As managers learn to coach employees through their challenges and identify their strengths, this builds an environment that’s conducive to growth. Set goals to hone this management skill with measureable results, like improved employee performance and profitability.
Download a free guide: 5 Principles To Combat Ineffective Leadership
3. Become A Better Motivator
If you want your team to run like a well-oiled machine, motivating team members is a key management skill for leaders to master. Why is it important? When your employees are unmotivated, your business suffers from dips in productivity and morale. Identify opportunities for your leaders to engage in management training that addresses motivation, and when they do, look for results. If you enhance motivation skills, you improve your employees’ work ethic and maximize their effectiveness.
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4. Increase Productivity
Among the many professional development goals, few are more important to highlight than productivity. When your managers’ individual job productivity improves, it’s beneficial to your entire company. Set productivity goals like finishing projects before due dates or outputting more product than the previous month.
5. Support And Manage Change
Change management is a hot topic. Setting change management goals is a fundamental way to get your managers on board with any transition, as well as motivated to see it through to implementation. Incorporating change management training into your professional development program prepares your leaders for future change. With the right approach, you’re going to see increased employee retention, productivity, loyalty and acceptance of change.
6. Improve Retention Rates
Retaining winning talent is a critical professional development goal to set for your managers. Lowering the number of employees that leave your company helps maintain processes and mitigate upheaval. Provide management training to help your leaders create supportive work environments and trajectories for growth that encourage employees to stay with the company.
BONUS TIP: Develop Core Leadership Skills
One professional development initiative that most managers, both new and experienced, find invaluable is bolstering core management skills. Most managers are not comfortable and confident with effective communication and leadership techniques. Even experienced managers struggle handling the situations managers inevitably face, like delegating, providing feedback, resolving conflicts, and helping set goals for their own team members.
If this sounds like you, you may want to set your own professional leadership goals. Check out our Free Course Preview Here.
Each company and its goals are different. At the end of the day, make sure you are collaborating with your team to identify overall objectives that make the most sense for your organization. Then, identify the role each member of your management team should play in achieving those objectives. Before meeting with each employee, brainstorm some items that should be included in a professional development plan, including goals and ways to achieve them. In your conversation with the employee, work with them to develop timelines and markers of achievement to make the initiative a success.
Setting professional development goals is a useful way to train and motivate your managers. If you want to see increased results within your company, don’t end the management training process at goal setting.
Is your training program (really) in line with your organization's goals?
Find out the current state of your training in three vital areas.
(This is how Staples and other successful companies got their training on track.)