Professional development allows employees to maintain drive in a competitive environment. Improving and learning new skills promotes motivation at work and helps employees gain promotion and achieve success. These tips help employees gain the tools they need to get ahead in the workplace and drive business forward.

Professional Growth Plan

In order to begin to identify areas in which employees can grow professionally, they need to assess their current skill base. A professional development plan can include skills needing cultivation, networking goals, and workplace outputs. In addition to assessments of the exact type of professional growth needed, a development plan specifically lays out the modes to achieve development goals, with a suggested end date of one year. Those with very high goals may want to devise a longer-term plan.

Peer Networks

People learn from others in many different contexts, especially the work place. By actively participating in industry or skill-building groups in the community, professionals can grow their networks while learning new skills. Those interested in professional growth can join a Meetup group in their community, join a board of an industry-related non-profit, or create their own local networking group.

Expanding the Comfort Zone

Growing professionally involves encountering new challenges and situations. One way to challenge boundaries is to volunteer for assignments at work outside of one’s comfort zone. Extending beyond routine work projects allows employees to confront new opportunities, find different ways to problem solve, and network with employees and managers.

Industry and Skills-based Coursework

Employees can refine their knowledge in the field and the skills to be successful by taking courses either in-person or online. Executive programs and single courses at universities provide access to knowledge for a range of technical topics and hard and soft skills courses from organizational psychology to statistics and computer programming. In-person courses also provide additional networking opportunities. Online options provided by high-quality universities offer low-cost or free options on websites like Coursera. Some courses have online forums for students to interact and share ideas.

Professional growth is an investment that can lead to more productive work, promotion, and a more positive outlook at work. These four tips to stimulate professional growth challenge employees to take on new roles and expand their horizons.