Culture and Professional Development are your Competitive Advantage!


I once worked with a start-up whose CEO and Founder emphasized that the organization was a team, not a family, at each new employee’s onboarding. He noted that each team member had responsibilities and accountabilities and that all needed to “pull their weight” for themselves and the broader team. Each time he said that I cringed inside. Although I agreed with him, a part of me also wanted to create an “ideal family feel” – where all felt welcomed, embraced, and supported. But to be honest, building an environment of support, trust, and fun is integral to building a real team. Colleagues who work together, even if they forge close friendships, are still, for better or worse, not “family.” 
So, when we build teams, ensuring that every team member understands the expectations of their role, the purpose and goals of the team, and healthy boundaries for their personal and professional lives is critical.

As organizations and individuals worldwide settle into the hybrid blend of in-person and virtual work, we learn more about opportunities and risks. Creating an inclusive culture where everyone feels connected, respected, and valued – no matter where they work – is a critical competitive advantage! Your team’s professional development is one important focus in attracting, engaging, and retaining talent. 

Promoting professional development is a win-win for organizations and their employees. It allows employees to become more successful and productive in their current roles and better prepared to take on broader and increased responsibilities. Although it may not always be convenient when team members move on to other opportunities or teams, we can reframe our thinking and view it as a team accomplishment! 

Given the new reality for Virtual and Hybrid Work, businesses will need to invest more in their people development and systems in 2023. 

In the recent past, some fundamental ways we learned best were through on-the-job experience, informal interactions, and feedback. Unfortunately, some professional development has suffered in virtual and hybrid work contexts. 

At the same time, though, improvements in technology have expanded program design possibilities. As a result, we must review how we provide professional development for all levels to fit the hybrid and virtual work realities. We must move beyond the week-in-a-classroom learning model and develop programs that integrate into day-to-day work, offer coaching opportunities, and take advantage of newer technologies. We also need to implement various training and development methods – from all-virtual to all-in-person. 

No matter where we work, we all need to feel connected and engaged to achieve our potential for ourselves and the organization.


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