Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a term used to describe the learning activities professionals engage in to develop and enhance their abilities. This learning is often facilitated through trainings, forums, seminars, webinars, workshops and conferences. CPD aims to ensure that professionals are up-to-date with the technicalities of their fields and maintain proficiency throughout their careers.
Due to its significance, CPD is a focus area for regulators of various professions. The Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA), for example, requires its members to complete at least 40 hours of CPD per year, 21 of which must be verifiable. The ZICA CPD requirements help to ensure that accountants in Zambia stay competent and develop new skills they require to be effective in their jobs and careers.
Introducing Continuing Personal Development
This article introduces an area of development that is not given as much attention as I feel it deserves – Continuing Personal Development (which can also be described by the acronym CPD). Unlike Continuing Professional Development discussed above, Continuing Personal Development aims to develop individuals in their individual capacities, rather than as professionals; it develops them as human beings, rather than as workers.
Personal development can benefit an individual in various aspects. Listed below are some examples of these:
- Time management
- Leadership abilities
- Emotional intelligence
- Financial literacy
- Inner peace
- Business acumen
- Negotiation skills
Of course, the list above is not exhaustive. There are many more ways in which an individual can benefit from a program of Continuing Personal Development. The list provided simply demonstrates how widely an individual can develop, other than just professionally.
A note to employees
As an employee, you must realize that the knowledge and skills you currently possess are not enough to keep you proficient in your career for the foreseeable future. You should take Continuing Professional Development seriously as a way to continuously upskill yourself and stay relevant in your field.
In addition to that, however, you must realize that other than being an employee, you are an entire human being. Your role as an employee is just part of who you are. Therefore, even as you develop yourself professionally, do not neglect to develop yourself personally. Be modest enough to recognize that you currently do not know everything you need to know to become and stay successful, regardless of what your definition of success may be. You should take Continuing Personal Development seriously as a way to continuously improve your performance in various aspects of your life. In fact, as you embark on your journey of Continuing Personal Development, you will notice remarkable positive effects on your performance as an employee.
How, practically, can you achieve CPD?
Continuing Professional Development is often structured. Your employer may inform you of programs (e.g. trainings, seminars, etc.) for you to attend. Such information may also come from other stakeholders in your field, such as regulators. However, it is also important for you to use initiative to seek out opportunities to learn and develop yourself professionally.
Continuing Personal Development, on the other hand, may require a little more personal effort. Fortunately, personal development material is widely available. A common source of this is in books. So take some time out to visit your local bookstore and pick out something that tickles your fancy. Your aim should be to enhance your knowledge, skills and abilities for use in various aspects of life. An alternative to buying books is to search for such materials online, many of which may be available for free download in PDF or audio format. Whichever way you do it, you will be glad you made the effort!
A note to employers
As the saying goes, “Employees are a company’s greatest asset.” Certainly, a business is only as good as the people that work in it. It must, therefore, be your priority as an employer to invest in your employees and ensure that they are continuously developing. The following practical suggestions may be of help:
- Consider the ‘tone at the top’. The management team should be able to demonstrate that they take their own development seriously; both professionally and personally.
- Arrange for employees to engage in learning activities that develop and enhance their professional skills.
- Make deliberate efforts to expose employees to content that aids their personal development. For example, you could occasionally gift employees with books or invite various coaches to give upbuilding lectures to them.
- Reward demonstrated personal development. As part of the annual performance appraisal, include conversations with employees about the books they have read over the period or the new skills they are learning that may not necessarily be related to their professional work.
Remember, you do not offer your employees jobs for their entire lives. If they ever wish to leave, it should give you satisfaction as an employer to know that they are leaving, not only as better professionals, but also as better human beings than they were when they first started working with you.
Clearly, both types of CPD discussed in this article are important. Engaging in Continuing Professional Development ensures that both academic and practical qualifications do not become outdated or obsolete; allowing individuals to continually ‘upskill’ or ‘re-skill’ regardless of occupation, age or educational level. Continuing Personal Development, on the other hand, ensures that individuals are growing in their individual capacities, and in various aspects of their lives.
May we all be determined to keep learning and growing – yes, to keep developing as professionals and, perhaps more importantly, as human beings!