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Professional Development Goals for Managers

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Wednesday, September 23, 2020
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Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

In recent posts, we explored the ins and outs of professional development. We discussed how you can support employees’ career goals, examples of professional development goals, and professional development platforms. But how can you become the best version of yourself as a manager?

In this post, we will go over some examples of professional development goals for leaders. While these examples focus on employees, they also translate well to leaders who are working with volunteers.

Vital learning explains that managers should have six key goals:

  • Enhance communication: great communication skills can turn a manager into a coach and a mentor. Learn how to give productive criticism and lift up your employees.
  • Develop coaching skills: as Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone said, we all do better when we all do better. No one comes into an organization knowing all of its ins and outs. Your job as a manager is to make your team better and more united.
  • Work on motivating: positive reinforcement builds trust between you and your employees and it makes criticism more digestible when they know you appreciate them.
  • Be more productive: “Leading from behind” is a crucial practice that shows you are with them. Set a good example by being efficient and demonstrating care in your work, and when your employees need help, lend a hand.
  • Be more flexible: As a manager, your focus should be on supporting your employees. It is important that you are adapting to their needs and the organization’s needs in order to have a productive, unified team.
  • Improve retention: By leading from behind and working to motivate employees, you will improve your retention rate. Continuously work to be a boss your employees want to work for.

Think through which of these goals may help you become a better manager and put them into action. In a previous post, we discussed how to set a professional development goal. The Education Service Center of Lake Erie West laid out a framework (PDF) to properly set what they call IPDP (Individual Professional Development Plan). This includes:

  1. An area of focus. What do you want to accomplish?
  2. An action. What action will you take to get there?
  3. Why? Why do you want to achieve this goal?

In your case, a goal like this may look something like this:

I want to learn how to give more positive reinforcement so that I can build trust between my employees and me.

According to Indeed, setting goals for yourself shows your team the importance of developing their own goals. Professional development goals also help define the values of your organization. If you take the time to set some professional development goals, you will become an even better manager than you were before.

Tags:  Professional Development 

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The Best Virtual Professional Development Platforms

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Wednesday, September 9, 2020

You have likely settled into a new “normal.” Whether that be working from home or getting used to meeting clients on Zoom rather than in person, it seems that these changes are around for the long haul.

With increased time online, many have taken advantage of the boundless resources available online. Employees have been able to use their time to learn more about their professions and industries.

With so many options available online, it can seem daunting to narrow down these platforms. Read on for a rundown of some of the most popular online professional development platforms:

LinkedIn Learning
Powered by the professional social platform, LinkedIn Learning offers a wide variety of short and long courses such as tutorials on Excel and filmmaking.

This platform is a great resource for employees. For example, if an employee needs to edit a video but does not have experience in editing, LinkedIn Learning offers a 3-hour course on how to use iMovie.

Individuals can subscribe to LinkedIn Learning for $30 a month or $300 a year. There are also plans for teams and companies available at an undisclosed price.

Coursera offers longer courses where you can earn certificates in things like applied project management, according to a blog post on Zapier. These courses are offered by various universities or organizations, meaning you can earn certificates from Yale or many other highly respected organizations.

While many courses are offered for a fee, quite a few can be audited for free.

Zapier explains that edX can fly under the radar because it lacks the technological flash that many of its competitors have. However, it makes up in content as many of the instructors are revered professors from Harvard or higher-ups at major companies like Microsoft.

Alison also utilizes the knowledge of experts to teach its users. The company believes in the open use of information, meaning most of its courses are completely free with a small price tag to get a certificate if you choose to obtain one.

Udacity partners with companies like Google to provide new and relevant topics. Some of the courses are free, but many need to be purchased.

The “nanodegree” program provides users very specific coursework. Udacity then can connect graduates with industry partners who tend to hire these graduates.

These are just a few of many learning platforms available online. If you are interested in learning more, Adam Enfroy’s blog has a comprehensive list of these platforms and what they do.

To learn more, check out our podcast, Associations Next on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Tags:  Professional Development  Technology 

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Examples of Professional Development Goals

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Many organizations have drastically altered the way they do things. Where and how we work has been altered to accommodate a way of life that is completely different from what most of us know. With the rush of changes that came with a global pandemic, many employees need to learn new skills to adapt.

Professional development has long been a staple of employee engagement. By providing employees with the tools to learn, you are investing in their future at the organization and in them as individuals.

As of 2018, Forbes explains that 71% of employees feel they need skills training to successfully operate in their role. Whether you are an employee or a leader who helps your team set goals, it’s vital to your personal and organizational success that your training goals are achievable.

In a previous post, we discussed how you might set a professional development goal. The Education Service Center of Lake Erie West laid out a framework to properly set what they call IPDP (Individual Professional Development Plan). This includes:

  1. An area of focus. What do you want to accomplish?
  2. An action. What action will you take to get there?
  3. Why? Why do you want to achieve this goal?

So what might these goals look like? Here are some examples to improve your understanding of a productive professional development goal. The focus is in bold, the action is italicized and the why statement is underlined. Examples drawn and altered from Indeed and Impraise.

  1. I want to learn more about what other departments do to further my knowledge of the organization.
  2. I want to complete a professional certificate to improve my credibility with clients.
  3. I would like to be more comfortable asking for feedback so I can improve my job performance on a more consistent basis.
  4. I want to apply for a promotion to demonstrate my value and commitment to the organization.
  5. I would like to improve my networking skills so I can experience new opportunities.
  6. I want to complete a leadership training this quarter so I can better my chances of receiving a promotion.
  7. I would like to improve how I manage remote teams so that I can be a better leader.
  8. I want to learn how to give feedback in a positive, productive tone so I can help my employees while motivating them.

By following this format, you are ensuring that your professional development goals are clear and action-oriented.

Ewald in Practice is focusing on professional development this quarter. Check out the other blog posts on PD via the links below.

Tags:  leadership  Professional Development 

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Virtual Professional Development Strategies

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Wednesday, August 12, 2020
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Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

By now, you have surely settled into a new normal. Whether that be in your office with distancing policies, working entirely from home or somewhere in the middle, you are working in an environment you have not been in before.

A significant change many of us have felt is the mass shift to online platforms. It is where we hold meetings, conferences and even some celebrations. Professional development is another area that has had to make that shift online in order to stay relevant and useful.

Professional development provides the tools and education to become better in the workplace. With in-person options being limited, how do we approach professional development in a virtual environment?

In this post, we will look at a few virtual professional development strategies.

  1. Use questions to identify your goals: Tech & Learning recommends using guiding questions to guide your professional development strategy. With endless virtual professional development opportunities, it is crucial that you fill a specific need. Use these questions to narrow down your focus:

    1. How do you hope participants would change as a result of your professional development?
    2. Who would most benefit from this professional development?
    3. How often should participants engage in professional development?
    4. Does the content align with company values?

  2. Try new things: Edutopia explains that one positive consequence of virtual professional development is much lower operating costs. No one has to fly or stay in hotels to learn more about their profession. Now, you can run a webinar on Zoom or Facebook Live at no cost or lower cost. Capitalize on this opportunity and try testing out some new ideas.

  3. Make it fun: Tech & Learning explains that participating in virtual professional development can be difficult. It is much harder to stay engaged with a screen than a speaker in person. Be selective in choosing your content and who delivers it. A course may be full of information, but if it is long and dry, it will be much harder to absorb the information given. Try experimenting with multimedia. Include short videos and images to keep participants engaged.

  4. Check in: According to Tech & Learning, you should check in and see how the development exercises are being received. Participants are excellent resources for you to get a better understanding of how everything is working. Send out a short survey following your sessions to get a feel for how things are going.

While COVID-19 has presented myriad challenges, it has given us a great opportunity to innovate and explore new ideas in professional development.

Watch for our new podcast, Associations Next, premiering this month. Our first episode focuses on how the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged professional development — and presented new opportunities.

Tags:  leadership  Professional Development 

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How to Support Employee Career Goals

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Tuesday, July 28, 2020
People sitting at a table

You likely know that professional development has been proven to improve employee engagement. Offering your employees opportunities to learn and grow demonstrates that you care about your employees as growing professionals, not just as employees of your organization.

So what can you do to show that you are invested in your employees as people? Show interest in their passions and goals by working with them. In this post, we will cover a few tips on how you can help your employees become the happiest, best versions of themselves.

  1. Invest in continuous learning
    According to 15Five’s Blog, continuous learning is important now more than ever due to evolving technologies and demand for new skills. Investing in platforms such as LinkedIn Learning provides your employees with over 16,000 courses in a plethora of topics ranging from writing press releases to learning JavaScript or business analysis. What is so wonderful about services like these is the ability for employees to learn skills they are interested in as well as skills that apply to their current positions.

  2. Provide feedback
    Employees cannot get better if they do not know how to be better. According to Glassdoor, feedback should be given in real time rather than just at employees’ annual reviews. Pay attention to areas where each employee could use some improvement and address it in a positive, consistent way. This also applies to positive traits—make sure you are frequently showing your appreciation for areas where employees excel.

  3. Consider new positions for your employees
    Employees do not often stick with employers that do not provide opportunities for their staff to move up the ladder. If your employees constantly see outside hires brought into manager positions, they will likely feel held back. Some may excel in their role, but may not possess the leadership skills to be promoted to manager. Consider other roles for these employees. For example, Get Smarter discusses the role of the “Individual Contributor.” This employee might be promoted into a teaching role rather than a manager role. They have a narrow focus and are used to teach others in their position rather than overseeing their department.

  4. Have a career development meeting
    Consider having annual or semi-annual career development meetings with your employees to discuss their goals within the organization and their broader goals as a professional. The Balance Careers recommends having the employee think about where they would like to be in three years. If they would like to move up in your organization, give them some suggestions on how they can improve their performance and move forward.

  5. Encourage and reward
    Glassdoor emphasizes the importance of recognition and rewards. Positive feedback motivates employees and helps build trust. Take the time to get to know employees and give them personal rewards to thank them for a job well done and show that you have taken time to get to know them as a person, not just as an employee.

Managers obviously want hard working, loyal employees, but this cannot be obtained by micromanaging and keeping them in the same position forever. Help them help you by giving them the care and resources it takes for them to be the best employees they can be.

Watch for our new podcast, Associations Next! We plan to launch it soon.

Tags:  leadership  Professional Development  Recognition 

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What the Numbers Say About Professional Development

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Smiling man
Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

This quarter at Ewald Consulting, we are focusing more on professional development, subscribing to LinkedIn learning to give our employees access to the numerous courses available in the LinkedIn library. We believe that this not only helps our company improve with job-specific trainings, but helps our employees expand on their own interests.

You likely know that professional development is a key factor in fostering an engaged, productive workplace, but how effective is it, really? In this post, we will look at some statistics that reflect the importance of professional development in the workplace.

  1. 74% of employees feel that they lack development opportunities
    A study by Middlesex University London found that many employees did not feel like they were achieving their full potential at work because there were not enough professional development opportunities. Employees want to grow and learn in their positions. If they feel they are stuck with no place to go, they will be less engaged and more willing to leave your organization.

  2. The cost of losing a new employee could be about 3x their annual salary
    PwC found this number in their research. This emphasizes the notion that professional development is an investment. Even if the upfront costs seem hefty, remember that in the long term, this could save your organization time and money.

  3. Engaged employees perform 202% better than non-engaged employees
    A Shift article discussed a Dale Carnegie study that found this statistic. Professional development opportunities improve engagement significantly and engagement has lasting effects on your organization’s culture and revenue.

  4. 87% of millennials say professional development is significant
    Millennials are making up more and more of the workforce. According to Access Perks, development opportunities are a key factor in millennials’ job choices. Gen Z, now entering the workforce, also expects employers to provide customized learning. Make sure you are attractive to a growing workforce by offering what they are looking for.

  5. 76% of employees are looking for development opportunities
    ClearCompany found that most employees want development trainings. Offering a variety of professional development opportunities shows your employees that you are not only invested in the work they do, but their interests and goals as an individual.

  6. 40% of employees who do not receive proper training will leave within their first year
    According to Go2HR , if employees do not receive cohesive job training, they are significantly more likely to leave before their 1-year anniversary.

  7. 69% of employees are open to new job opportunities
    Rapt Media said that most employees would be willing to leave their current jobs. Guthrie Jensen’s blog explains that you need to continually offer growth opportunities so that your employees see your organization as the best place for them to grow.

Your employees will always be your greatest asset, so make sure you are constantly investing in them and their futures.


Tags:  leadership  Professional Development 

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Setting Personal Professional Development Goals

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Many of us have participated in some form of professional development. Whether it be an orientation video for work, a certification course or an implicit bias training, professional development is key to having a successful career. Indeed defines personal development goals as “objectives you set to improve your character, skills and capabilities.”

So how do we go about creating these goals for ourselves?

The Education Service Center of Lake Erie West laid out a framework to properly set what they call IPDP (Individual Professional Development Plan) goals. While the document was created for educators, this method for setting professional development goals can be applied to all professions. According to this framework, you should state an action, an area of focus, and your rationale for that action.

Start with an area of focus. What do you want to accomplish? Let’s say you would like to get better at video editing. Your area of focus might be proficiency at a specific editing software. Be specific about your goal to know exactly what you are working toward.

What is the action you will take to achieve that goal? For video editing, this might be “I will learn Adobe Premiere” or “I will take an online course in video editing.” Dictating an action helps you commit to it.

Finally, add your “because” statement. Why do you want to achieve this goal? For video editing this may be, “because I would like to be promoted to a senior marketing position.” Think through your purpose for putting effort into this new skill.

Overall, the statement should look something like, “I will take a course in video editing through LinkedIn Learning in order to become a senior content creator.” The specificity of this goal statement is helpful because it gives you the what, how and why.

With this framework, setting specific professional development goals will become clearer and easier to achieve.

Tags:  leadership  Professional Development  Recognition 

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Writing Successful Learning Objectives

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Thursday, September 26, 2019

Writing Successful Learning Objectives

Learning objectives are a best practice in training that, in their most basic form, are a statement of what learners should be able to accomplish by the end of a learning event. Additionally, they are a way for the presenter to clearly and transparently define the goals of the training. Creating no more than three to four specific learning objectives will allow the learner to self reflect throughout the learning event on his or her progress toward mastering the defined critical information.

In order to plan and implement an effective training program for professionals, it is important to understand and address the Principles of Adult Learning. Malcom Knowles’ research on the distinct characteristics of adult learners began in the 1950's and is the basis for the majority of adult learning theories. Adult learners have unique characteristics, as identified by Knowles, including that they are goal-oriented look for relevancy in their learning. Stating clear learning objectives for a training helps the learner identify the goals and desired outcomes of the training.


When constructing a learning objective, there are two distinct parts: the action verb and the performance standard. The action verb provides clear measures of mastery of demonstrable learning outcomes. Some examples of strong action verbs include: define, contrast, write, explain and evaluate. The action verb also reflects the rigor of the learning objective. Bloom’s Taxonomy, created in 1956 to encourage higher-level thinking, is an effective tool for trainers to ensure that they are creating rigorous learning objectives.


The bottom level of the taxonomy, known as the “knowledge” domain, represents low-level learning and includes action verbs including recall, define, recognize and list. As you move up the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, the level of thinking required increases. Choosing action verbs in the different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy will help classify the cognitive level of learning to both the presenter and the learner.

The second part of creating a learning objective is determining the performance standard. A performance standard is the measure by which learners will demonstrate mastery. There are three types of learning objectives: cognitive, psychomotor and effective. Cognitive learning objectives aim to increase the participants’ general understanding of concepts and processes. Psychomotor learning objectives seek to determine whether a learner can accurately complete a task or demonstrate a skill. Finally, an effective objective is designed to influence attitudes and outlooks. Identifying the type of learning objective will assist the presenter in choosing the appropriate performance standard, instructional strategies and assessment tool, if applicable.


A poor example of a learning objective is, “Participants will be exposed to information about new laws passed in 2016 that impact public accountants.” The verb “exposed” does not indicate any measurable action for the learner to demonstrate mastery of the learning objective.

A good example of a learning objective is, “By the end of this training, learners will be able to identify the changes in the updated resuscitation guidelines.” The action verb of this objective is “identify” and the performance is pinpointing the changes in the updated resuscitation guidelines. The time frame noted at the beginning of the objective tells the learner when this learning goal should be met.


Learning objectives should be used in all effective learning events. Constructing a learning objective that has both an action verb and a performance standard will help learners identify the key information as well as the goals of the training. Encouraging trainers to promote their learning objectives will result in participants who are prepared to engage with the desired outcomes of the training.

Tags:  engagement  professional development 

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Tips for Subject Matter Experts

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Tuesday, September 24, 2019
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The Science of Learning: Delivering Effective Training

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Research has found that the brain’s ability to retain information decreases over time exponentially, often referred to as Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve. After just a couple days, retention of new information can drop to around 40%. Utilizing instructional best practices including increasing interactivity and ensuring the training is relevant will help combat the forgetting curve. Understanding how the human brain processes information and how people learn will assist with…

Boredom inhibits learning

Boredom Inhibits Learning

  • Our brains are trained to pay attention to new and unusual inputs
  • Have you incorporated engagement strategies?
  • Is your instruction broken up into manageable chunks?
  • Collaboration – Get your audience involved; interactive experience is more memorable than passive
  • Have you “hooked” your audience with an engaging opening?

Short-Term Memories Are Temporary

Short-Term Memories Are Temporary

  • Learning must be repeated and revisited to be moved into long-term memory
  • Add checks for understanding to gauge understanding
  • Make connections between concepts to repeat learning in multiple scenarios

Learner driven


  • Ensures learning is applicable
  • Ownership over the learning and output
  • Active role in learning
  • Need to see relevance in learning as it is no longer required

Visuals are critical

Visuals are Critical

  • 80-90% of the information our brain processes comes in through our eyes
  • It takes about ¼ second for the brain to process and attach meaning to a symbol
  • The brain is capable of absorbing 36,000 images every minute
  • In contrast, it takes an average of 6 seconds to read 20-25 words.
  • One study found that a presentation that was delivered with visual aids was 43% more effective at getting people to take action than the same presentation was delivered without visuals.

Struggle is good

Struggle is Good

  • Creating challenge in learning requires the learner to do the mental heavy lifting.
  • Mistakes can be the most valuable teacher

Learning needs to be immediately relevant

Learning Needs to be Immediately Relevant

  • What is the added value and results for me?
  • Humans process hundreds of thousands of sensory inputs daily. In order to trigger the brain that it is valuable and should be retained, the information should be relevant and applicable. This is why learning objectives should be utilized.





  1. Thorpe, S., Fize, D. & Marlot, C. (1996). Speed of processing in the human visual system, Nature, Vol 381.


Learning and Leading with Habits of the Mind
Arthur l. Costa and Bena Kallick, Editors. 2008

Tags:  engagement  Professional Development 

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