How to get personalized professional support

It’s the first in a four part series on obtaining free individualized career support.

You feel unstable in your career. Perhaps you would like to be more engaged and fulfilled in your daily work. Or you take on more responsibility and don’t know how to handle new tasks and direct reports. Where you know To be more possible in your career, but don’t know how to progress.

Whichever way you cut it, something is wrong.

So you start looking for articles and books for ideas. You find solid advice and direction, but begin to realize that there is no “one size fits all” approach to your specific challenges and career questions. Unfortunately, even if you can find information applicable to your situation, it probably won’t be enough. When workers were randomly assigned to self-train or have a trainer, researchers found that “performing exercises independently without being supported by a trainer is not enough to achieve high goals.” as shown in Frontiers in Psychology. In other words, personalized coaching was necessary for real gain.

These results are consistent with other studies that have shown that coaching creates many improvements, including reducing stress at work, improving job satisfaction and engagement, and facilitating overall well-being.

All in all, creating fulfillment, impact, meaning and purpose at work is almost impossible to do on our own. We need someone to guide us, to talk about our specific situation, and to hold us accountable as we work towards our unique goals. It’s no wonder then that an increasing number of organizations are hiring internal coaches or contracting with coaching companies to support their employees, a welcome trend.

But what if you work in an organization that doesn’t yet offer coaching? Are you left with the choice of being miserable at work or paying a heavy coaching bill yourself?

Fortunately, you may be able to get high quality career coaching without paying a dime out of pocket with professional development funds.

What are professional development funds?

Professional development funds are a sum of money offered by organizations for employees to develop skills relevant to their careers. Funds typically range between $ 500 and $ 5,000 per person per year, but they vary widely by organization, as this list compiled by Hoppier clearly shows. In some cases, there is a lifetime cap per individual, or the funds must be used within a certain number of years after joining the organization.

While funds are often allocated to each employee on an annual basis, some organizations have an organization-wide prize pool that must be accessible on a first-come, first-served basis each fiscal year.

It is important to note that there are a variety of names for professional development funds, including professional development plans (PDPs), career development funds, career development funds, and development grants. career. With that in mind, keep your research broad as you dig.

How can professional development funds be used?

Many of us are “cognitive” about the use of professional development funds, thinking that they are only for conferences, courses and training. Most organizations actually consider professional development funds to be available for any “career-related” training, education and / or support. It’s a large bucket!

During the pandemic, when conferences were canceled or converted to less stimulating online versions, many employees got creative and realized the magnitude. Rather than wasting the allocated funds, they began to use the funds for one-on-one coaching and other forms of personalized support. In my own coaching practice, I switched from invoicing all from my private coaching clients two years ago to having almost a quarter of my clients’ coaching currently paid for by their organizations.

I have certainly fallen into limited thinking about professional development funds myself – even though I am a coach. While working at a college that offered annual professional development funds, I missed out on thousands of dollars because I found the low efficiency of mass trainings not worth my time and / or because the trips to conferences were prohibitive when I had young children. Now I realize that I probably could have hired a professional coach to guide and support my skills and career goals all these years. What a loss!

What organizations offer professional development funds?

A wide variety of organizations offer professional development funds – it’s not just large for-profit institutions that do. In fact, while it may be counterintuitive, all of my clients who currently use professional development funds for coaching work for nonprofits. I have a number of clients at Fortune 500 companies and they all pay out of pocket for career coaching.

When I asked one of my nonprofit clients about this odd trend, she explained it this way: “Nonprofits can’t pay us as well as a for-profit company can. could. So the way they attract us and hold us back is to say, “You can grow up here. We will help you grow. ‘ Nonprofits – even small ones – often put money behind this promise in the form of professional development funds. Since many people do not actually have access to the funds available, career development offers organizations a much more affordable way to attract and retain employees than to increase individual compensation.

In other words, don’t count your organization, regardless of its size or type.

How do I know if my organization offers professional development funds?

The starting point, of course, is to consult the employee handbook or speak to your HR department. You might be surprised to find that the funds are literally there for the taking.

If you can’t find anything, or if your organization is so small that it doesn’t have a manual or an HR manager, talk to your supervisor and coworkers. They may not be familiar with the term “professional development fund” or your organization may use a different term, so ask general questions such as: “Have you ever used money for conference travel?” Have you ever been reimbursed for taking online courses? If someone did, then the funds are there – or probably can exist with a little advocacy.

What if my organization does not offer professional development funds?

If you dig and find no clue of available funds, it’s not a false start. A number of my coach clients have advocated for professional development funds to be added to their organization’s offerings and others negotiated for individual annual funds for their own use.

In Part 2 of this series, which will be released this week, I’ll offer step-by-step instructions on how to advocate for professional development funds that don’t yet exist. Part Three will discuss how to justify the use of professional development funds for coaching and one-on-one support if your organization is thinking closely about the use of funds, and Part Four will discuss how to plan the use of your professional development funds. professional development for optimal impact.


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