What is CPD?
CPD is a combination of approaches, ideas and techniques that will help someone manage their own learning and growth. The focus of CPD is firmly on results such as the benefits that professional development can bring you in the real world. Perhaps the most important message is that one size doesn’t fit all. Wherever you are in your career now, and whatever you want to achieve, your CPD should be exactly that: yours.
What is the process?
CPD isn’t a fixed process, but there are certain basic processes that you should be aware of. Fundamentally, it’s a question of setting yourself objectives for development and then charting your progress towards achieving them. It’s about where you want to be, and how you plan to get there. One approach is based on outcomes and results, rather than ‘time spent’ or ‘things done’.
Is it time consuming?
Yes, it is. You have to capture useful experiences and assess the practical benefits of what you have learned. There is one decisive question that you should ask yourself when evaluating every piece of learning: what can you do now that you couldn’t do before? Similarly, when you record your CPD, it’s the value of the activity that counts. It’s not what you did, but how you can use what you learned.
As a professional, you have a responsibility to keep your skills and knowledge up to date. CPD helps you turn that accountability into a positive opportunity to identify and achieve your own career objectives.
At least once a year, it is recommended that you review your learning over the previous 12 months, and set your development objectives for the coming year. Reflecting on the past and planning for the future in this way makes your development more methodical and easier to measure. This is a particularly useful exercise prior to your annual appraisal!
How do I get started?
It is recommended that you review your learning over the previous 12 months, and set your development objectives for the coming year. Reflecting on the past and planning for the future in this way makes your development more methodical and easier to measure. You may already be doing this as part of your development review with an employer.
There is a set of questions you can use when asked to provide evidence of your CPD. Answering these will help you explore the pattern of your past and planned learning, with the emphasis firmly on the impact of that learning.
|What were the three most important things you learned last year? How did you learn them?||How do you identify your learning and development needs?|
|What value did you add (to your organization, clients or colleagues) through professional development?||What are your three main development objectives and how will you achieve them?|
|What were the tangible outcomes of your professional development in the last 12 months?||What differences do you plan to make (to your role, organization, clients or colleagues?)|
|Has anyone else gained from your professional development? How?||When will you next review your professional development needs?|
How should I present my CPD?
Some people find it helpful to write things down in detail, while others record ‘insights and learning points’ in their diaries as they go along. This helps them to assess their learning continuously. These records and logs are useful tools for planning and reflection: it would be difficult to review your learning and learning needs yearly without regularly recording in some way your experiences.
The thing to remember is that records and logs are tools for planning and reflection. CPD is what you experience, learn and then apply.
How CPD benefits you
The benefits of CPD aren’t just felt when you’re going for promotion or upgrading to a Professional membership. Many employers now value ‘learning agility’ as a core competency.
- Build confidence and credibility, you can see your progression by tracking your learning.
- Earn more by showcasing your achievements. A handy tool for appraisals.
- Achieve your career goals by focusing on your training and development.
- Cope positively with change by constantly updating your skill set.
- Be more productive and efficient by reflecting on your learning and highlighting gaps in your knowledge and experience.
As organizations shift the responsibility for personal development back to the individual, the ability and insight to manage your own professional growth is seen as a key strength.
- Helps maximize staff potential by linking learning to actions and theory to practice.
- Helps some professionals to set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) objectives, for training activity to be more closely linked to business needs.
- Promotes staff development. This leads to better staff morale and a motivated workforce helps give a positive image/brand to organizations.
- Adds-value, by reflecting it will help staff to consciously apply learning to their role and the organization’s development.
Linking to appraisals. This is a good tool to help employees focus their achievements throughout the year.