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Investing in professional development?

5 ways to ensure you get payback


Developing leadership skills

Too many organisations waste significant amounts of money on professional development that appears useful but delivers few returns. This article outlines some of the reasons why this happens and suggests five ways to ensure you spend your budget wisely.


There are many reasons to invest in professional development, whether reactive, perhaps to assist an underperforming individual or to support a manager who has landed a greater or more demanding workload; or proactive such as to support succession planning; raise productivity or manage change effectively.


Whatever the reason, organisations invest in professional development to achieve improvement and see a return. There are, however, many obstacles that can prevent individuals from taking what they learn on a management programme back into the workplace to make a positive difference. Research shows that if an individual doesn’t transform what they’ve learnt into action within one week, the likelihood is that they’ll never use it.


The most common issue preventing this transformational learning is a lack of relevance. One reason for this could be that the activities aimed to engage delegates are actually difficult to relate to their typical working environments. Often externally-run open courses, that attract delegates from a wide range of industries, don’t stretch and challenge all employees. Furthermore, the break-out activities may not be useful because delegates don’t share a frame of reference to base discussions on. This can lead to a lack of engagement and frustration ‘I could be doing something useful!’ And larger, open conference-style courses can seem irrelevant as they don’t provide opportunities to check understanding or practise applying learning to real-life situations.


So how can you invest wisely in management development?


  1. Consider the timing – managers can particularly benefit from support when going through a period of change, challenge or growth in their workplace so that they have the opportunity to apply their learning straight away.
  2. If you have a group of managers, organise an in-house programme that meets the needs of your individuals as well as giving them an opportunity to network and support each other in their development.
  3. Schedule the training over a period of time so that delegates can experiment, practise new skills and apply different techniques in between sessions and bring their results back to the group for review, advice and support.
  4. Assign each delegate a mentor to help them extend and embed their learning so that it sticks. Ensure mentors are aware of the content of the programme so that they can support the individual to implement the changes they want and hold them accountable.
  5. Underpin the programme with a project-type activity that involves delegates relating their learning to address a challenge in the workplace. This can culminate in a presentation to their managers and a celebration of the positive changes that have taken place.

You can’t afford not to invest in professional development but you need to ensure it makes a difference and creates positive change in the workplace.  Choosing a programme that pitches relevant content, in the right way and at the right time, that is also underpinned with the support of mentors and a longer-term project will help you to ensure transformational learning and a solid return on your investment.


Aziz Corporate have recently launched a new brand Aziz Future Leaders. Consisting of 8 one day workshops, this programme has been carefully designed to allow talented, ambitious people to accelerate their careers, with a particular focus on transformational learning. Whether potential, first-line or middle-managers, these modules offer complete flexibility, either to supplement existing in-house training, or to be delivered as a complete management development programme.

Modules 2


About Aziz Corporate

Aziz was founded over 40 years ago by Khalid Aziz, a media pioneer of his day who at 21 became the youngest ever appointed BBC producer.

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