Why buying in Professional Development doesn’t always solve the problems.

Let’s face it, sometimes you need the outside expertise. In areas like child protection and accessibility its vital. Buying in professional development because you want new ideas isn’t always the best plan however.

For a start, it can be expensive. You have to pay for the person’s time and resources on top of their experience. Does your organisation review Professional Development that has been paid for? These feedback systems are useful for working out costs vs benefits to help you spot where best to spend the money. Definitely get feedback from your team to find out what they thought as well, you could use this to develop your own feedback system.

Another problem is that often the professional development is directed by management. This top down approach takes the control out of the hands of the attendees and can lead to money being wasted on training that could have been led in-house or maybe had a different focus. We’ve all sat through those training sessions where the speaker is simply not in-tune with the needs or interests of the audience. Groups I’ve worked with have been surprised by the lack of didactic practice in my sessions. They are used to being talked at with less room for contributions. I personally find as well that many providers (especially those working on a national level) expect their speakers to stick to a script or workbook, leaving little space for a personalised service.

 What opportunities does your organisation provide to let you decide on the professional development you are offered? Sometimes these requests can involve a daunting amount of paperwork, or gaining signatures from people you have only spoken to once. This paper trail can put people off booking trainers to come in. It is important though that you get input on the training you are offered. You have a unique perspective on your role and know best the training that you need to attend. Your training needs change over the year and management might not be up to date with them. Make sure you have those conversations.

Where the session is not viewed as relevant have you noticed a low uptake? Attendance can be a big hurdle for some organisations, especially those who rely on the work of volunteers or zero-hours contracts. Having invested £X in getting the speaker to attend the whole session can be wasted if you only have 50% uptake. Finding a time that fits into everybody’s schedules as well as the training provider’s is hard. Keeping the session relevant and bringing contributions in from across the team can mean that you get the best from them in attendance and attention!

Luckily it’s not all doom and gloom!

It is possible (and incredibly easy) to run your own engaging and useful training sessions as a team. All you need is a little courage and advice. If this article has picked out problems that you are also identifying surrounding professional development in your workplace you should join my free online supportive community at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ExceptionalMuseumEducatorsClub/.