The Value of Professional Development

December 14, 2021 Virginia Emrick

In today’s educational landscape, enrollment leaders are in a constant scramble to pivot — from the rapidly changing rules and regulations around COVID to the fluctuating trends in demographics, pricing models, retention strategies, and more. To stay competitive and successful, the most effective leaders seek to continually expand their skills and knowledge to help them improve their job performance and implement the best educational practices. 

In fact, great leaders are great learners. They know and value the benefits of professional development for themselves and their team. These benefits include:

  1. Increased Employee Retention: No one wants to stagnate in a position that doesn’t value their work. In their Fall 2021 Hiring Outlook survey, Monster found that 29% of employees say they are leaving their current position due to lack of growth opportunities, and “nearly half of workers (45%) would be more likely to stay with their employer if they were offered skills training.”

  2. Improved Confidence and Credibility: When you have the skills to support the work you do, you feel empowered to complete your responsibilities with ease. With the opportunity to add new skills to your repertoire, you can be confident that you are filling in any gaps in your knowledge and establishing yourself as a credible resource in the work you do. You also reduce the risk of burnout. Jennifer Moss, the author of The Burnout Epidemic and Unlocking Happiness at Work, writes that one of the reasons behind employee burnout is a mismatch between job assignments and job skills. Jennifer joined EMA’s Peter Baron and Hans Mundahl for a recent Enrollment Spectrum Podcast to address this topic specifically toward independent school admissions: “How do we not burn out in an endless admission cycle?” [S1.E6] 

  3. Heightened Engagement and Efficiency: Not only do new skills improve your confidence in completing your work, but they also give you new ideas in how you approach that work. You’ll feel more energized to try alternative processes and see your work from a new perspective, which can help you streamline your efforts in creative ways.

  4. Easier Succession Planning and Promotion: Professional development not only benefits you as an enrollment leader but also helps support your team and prepares them to become leaders at your organization. Choosing the right program can be a cost-effective way to provide your whole organization with the skills needed to reduce turnover and increase shared knowledge. Programs such as EMA’s Learning Pass can provide professional development opportunities for your entire organization at one low price and allow you to earn completion certificates for the knowledge you gain.

Here are five keys to cultivating and nurturing a learning mindset:

  1. Read and Write Regularly: The benefits of reading are clear. It expands our view of the world and exposes us to topics, ideas, and viewpoints that we may not otherwise learn. However, writing is equally important as it helps us define our own perspectives, improves our mastery of the subject, and develops our ability to communicate effectively with others.

  2. Attend Training Programs: Show your commitment to learning by participating in a course or training program, such as EMA’s live and on-demand courses. These programs often dig into content more than reading materials alone to deepen your understanding of the topics and allow you to ask questions and learn from others’ experiences.

  3. Request Feedback: Great leaders understand the importance of soliciting feedback on the work they do and they look for ways to improve how they do that work to benefit their entire organization.

  4. Find Mentors: Just like asking for feedback from your team is important, having someone who has been where you are to guide you and point you toward areas of growth while keeping you on the right track is an asset. A mentor can provide objective input that you won’t find in your day-to-day work; so, you want to ensure you find someone who will be honest with you and help you reach your goals. EMA’s Admission Leadership Council (ALC) offers a mentor program to Annual Conference preconference attendees in the Admission Training Institute (ATI), Admission Directors Institute (ADI), and Future Leaders. Attending one of these programs can connect you with a mentor in your specific goal area.

  5. Develop and Nurture Peer Relationships: Colleagues outside your team provide a great resource for learning. They allow you to gain a different perspective on routine tasks and spur new thinking to generate ideas. Industry contacts can be found in the same role you’re in or in a role you aspire to reach. By cultivating these relationships you gain valuable insights that you can incorporate into your own work.

By tapping into professional development opportunities, you can help your organization reduce the skills gap that has been widening over the last few years. If you need assistance in finding the right courses for your needs, put EMA’s professional development services to use. Contact a member representative today for information.


About the Author

Virginia Emrick

Virginia Emrick joined EMA as Associate Director of Marketing in December 2019. She is a digital marketer specializing in project management and web services for various industries, including entertainment, education, and finance. Prior to joining EMA, Virginia worked for 12 years in Marketing and Creative Services at ETS coordinating digital marketing for both K-12 and Higher Ed for key brands, such as the GRE program. Before that, she was the Marketing Services Manager, Consumer Electronics Sector at Kenwood USA responsible for all U.S. marketing and events. Virginia holds a Master’s degree in Communications from Rowan University and has studied songwriting and musical theatre with some of the top writers in the industry.

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