Take Charge of Your Own Professional Development

By L. Dennis Burns, CAPP

I recently read an article by Natasha Bowman, the author of “You Can’t Do That at Work!” She quoted Zig Ziglar: “The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them.”

The takeaway is clear: The potential loss of dollars invested in employee development pales in comparison to the certain productivity loss inflicted by a mediocre workforce.

Here are five ways Bowman recommends taking charge of your own personal development:

  1. Earn a certificate in your field. Depending on your industry, there are a number of certificate programs available to expand your professional skills.
    · The premier industry parking certification program is IPMI’s CAPP.
  2. Enroll in an online course. A la carte coursework can be another excellent venue for professional development. Most online courses are offered on a flexible basis, allowing you to work your continuing education into your busy life.
    · IPMI offers continuing education courses, online and in-person, that provide convenient, affordable, and focused education opportunities
    · IPMI recently announced a new offering: TransportationCamp, a half-day “unconference.” Like a Shoptalk, an unconference engages and puts the participant in the position to focus experts and professional peers on issues important to your organization.
  3. Speak at a conference or seminar. Bowman says, “To succeed in business, you must learn how to communicate clearly and compellingly—to your boss, your subordinates or even a room full of complete strangers. You can only go so far in your organization or your field without the ability to do so.” Volunteering to speak at conferences and seminars forces you to develop these skills. More importantly, it gives you a platform from which to trumpet your unique perspective on our industry.
    · Presenting at state and regional conferences greatly increased both my confidence and my public speaking ability. For some, there are few things more terrifying than public speaking. If this is you, consider joining a local Toastmasters group to work on honing your oratory skills.
  4. Expand your scope. Ask your boss for a new challenge. Take on a project outside your standard load. Find a topic or area for which you have some passion and interest and challenge yourself. Focus not on what you’ve comfortably done in the past, but what you want to accomplish in the future or where you see a real need.
  5. Find a mentor. “Find someone you admire, either in your organization or outside of it. Choose a leader who embodies the professional qualities you hold dear. Buy them lunch. Dissect their journey. Get to know the ins and outs of who they are and how they got to where they are. More than that, build a relationship. Process decisions with your new mentor. Learn to think like they think and ask the types of questions they ask.”