Professional Development; the real value is not in attending

Ange Connor

August has been a very big month of professional development for me. I’m overdosed with professional development and I’m feeling pumped! But truth be told, up until last week I was also feeling overwhelmed.

In the month of August I’ve spent two action packed days at the annual RCSA (Recruitment and Consulting Association) Conference in sunny Port Douglas. I took a drive to Bendigo and attended the VRCLP 2016 Regional Leadership Summit and I’ve attended numerous events as part of B31 (part of the small business festival). I’ve been inspired, motivated, thought provoked and had my thinking challenged by 34 speakers.

The best part about all this professional development has been that every speaker and every session has had a different focus. Some sessions were industry focussed (recruitment and HR), some were small business owner focussed, some community focussed and others leadership focussed. It’s certainly been a challenge stepping out of the office away from my desk to reap the benefits of all this professional development however it’s absolutely been worth it. Professional development is crucial to what we do and I believe everyone in the workplace from the cleaner to the CEO or business owner needs to have the opportunity to undertake professional development.

The thing I have always found challenging about professional development is holding on to the inspiration and motivation. I’m sure you have at some stage in your career attended a professional development conference, workshop, seminar or presentation where you have taken countless notes (or in this day and age of technology taken multiple photos of slides on the big screen). You’ve sat there and thought I could use that or I could apply that in my role. Maybe you’ve thought a particular initiative would revolutionise our business or give you a stronger unique selling proposition. You walk out of the conference with big ideas, a positive attitude, you can’t wait to share your thoughts, ideas and enthusiasm with your colleagues and manager; you’re sure they too will share your enthusiasm for change and implementation.

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Then you return to work. You’ve only been gone half a day, maybe up to a couple of full days out of the office for a major conference, and as you walk back into the office chaos envelopes you and it’s back to the day to day running on the treadmill and putting out spot fires. You’ve been gone hours or days at most and you already have hundreds of emails to sort through, urgent calls to return, clients needing something yesterday, management wanting reports. Before its even lunchtime your recent professional development session is a distant memory. The inspiration and motivation has been filed in the back of the memory for a rainy day that never comes and your notebook full of valuable notes and ideas is shoved in your second desk draw only to be pulled out next time you are off to a professional development session.

And there is your big mistake.

The value in attending a professional development isn’t in the attending.

The value comes when you invest the time after the session to capture your take aways, prioritise what ideas you want to run with and create an action plan to make it happen. To turn it in to a living breathing action item from the simple words written in your notebook. When you put in to practice your learnings.

I’m guilty of coming away from a professional development session wanting to revolutionise my business, how we do things and implement multiple new ideas. What unfortunately happens is I’m often paralysed by where to start, the ideas to do list just seems too big, too complex and too complicated. So I do nothing. Sometimes I do refer back to my notes, weeks and months later and think I must get on to that but again because it’s too big, I never know where to start. Have you made this same crucial mistake as me?

Well this time I’m committed to making change. My notebook is not being hidden away in my desk draw. This time I want to get the maximum return on my time and dollar professional development investment.

In next week’s blog I’ll share with you what I’ve done since these PD sessions, what I’m currently doing and what’s working and what’s not. If you have your own tips and feedback on how to make the most out professional development, I’d love to hear them and learn from your experiences and share them in next week’s blog. Feel free to comment or email me direct at with your initiatives.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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