Continuing professional development (or CPD) is fundamental for success in today’s fast-moving business environment. If you are a member of a professional body, then it is highly likely that your continuing membership requires you to demonstrate your commitment to lifelong learning by undertaking regular CPD activities. However, it is also becoming increasingly common for organisations to expect their managers and employees to undertake CPD too. In this article we will look at what you need to do and the types of activities that can be used for CPD.
If your professional association or your employer requires you to undertake continuing professional development - or if you simply want to do this for your-self, it is important to follow these four steps.
Step 1. Initial review
The starting point for all CPD activities should be to assess yourself against the competencies required for your job and/or the competencies laid down by your professional body. This assessment will help you identify current and future developmental needs and assist you in establishing your learning objectives for the coming year.
Step 2. Plan
Using your initial review you should identify the skills and knowledge areas you want to develop and/or to maintain. Remember CPD is just as much about keeping your knowledge up to date as it is developing new skills. Now you should identify which of the items on your list you are going to work on in the next 12 months and turn these into SMART objectives.
For each objective you will need to decide the types of activities that you are going to use to support your development and record these so they become your own personal CPD log. The activities you chose should:
- Contribute to any minimum CPD time requirements your professional body/organisation specifies (see part 2).
- Utilise a number of both formal and informal learning methods
Some examples of formal learning methods are:
• Attending relevant external training courses (such as any relevant Spearhead bookable open courses)
• Attending relevant conferences and/or seminars
• Job secondment
• Attending in-house presentations
Some examples of informal learning methods are:
• Learning on the job
• Peer guidance and discussion
• Work shadowing
• Exposure to new situations at work which required you to take action
• Participating in careers conventions
• Participating in professional related activities, such as membership of committees where new ideas and initiatives are discussed
• Sharing your knowledge and experience with others
• Acting as a coach or mentor for a fellow professional
• Being coached or mentored by a fellow professional
• Self-study through reading text books and professional journals (including the kindle books published by Spearhead)
• Personal learning from the internet
• Relevant out-of work (volunteer) activities
Step 3: Do & Record
Once you have completed your review and planned your CPD learning activities, it is now time to complete some of those activities. You will need to be disciplined to ensure you actually do what you planned, but should also be conscious of the many unplanned learning opportunities that can arise that you can also log as CPD activities.
When you have undertaken a CPD activity (planned or unplanned), make a note of the outcomes in your log. This not only gives you an opportunity to reflect on how these activities and experiences have helped you develop your capabilities but also provides evidence of your learning outcomes.
Step 4: Review
Once started CPD is, as the name implies, a continuous process so you must make time to review and update your CPD objectives at least once a year.
In part two of this article we will look at the specific CPD requirements of the leading professional bodies.