The Evolution of Professional Development

Embracing Variety for Maximum Impact

Traditional professional development and continuing education methods have long been critiqued for their one-size-fits-all approach. These methods typically require employees to take the same courses, regardless of their relevance to individual roles. This not only wastes employees' time but also results in significant financial losses for companies. Thankfully, the advent of new online platforms is revolutionizing professional development by offering a diverse range of courses and enabling employers to create customized curricula for each employee. This shift is akin to a professional development buffet, providing a variety of options to cater to unique employee needs.

The Need for Variety in Professional Development

Each employee brings a unique background and set of skills to their role, even if they hold the same position within the company. For instance, consider an accounting department where several employees hold accounting degrees, but most of the staff have degrees in unrelated fields. An employee with an English degree might benefit from courses covering broad accounting topics such as efficient use of Excel and basic bookkeeping. On the other hand, a colleague with a finance degree might find these courses redundant and would gain more from detailed topics like depreciation or Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

Forcing these two employees to take the same professional development classes would not serve either of them effectively. The English major might feel overwhelmed while the finance major might feel under-challenged. In both scenarios, valuable resources—time and money—are wasted. A more effective approach is to allow each employee to take courses that align with their individual skill levels and professional needs.

Customizing the Learning Experience

Not all employees are aware of their precise skill levels or the areas where they need improvement. This is where tailored professional development plans come into play. Modern professional development platforms have addressed this issue by enabling companies to create customized curricula for their employees. Typically, a manager or human resources representative assesses the skills and needs of each employee, either through formal assessments or by evaluating the requirements of their specific position.

This personalized approach ensures that employees are not only engaged but also continually advancing in their roles. By providing a development plan tailored to each individual, companies can maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of their professional development programs.

Blending Online and Offline Learning

While online platforms offer a wide array of courses and the flexibility to tailor learning experiences, it’s important to remember that professional development doesn’t have to be confined to the digital realm. The concept of a professional development buffet allows companies to blend online courses with traditional in-person training. This hybrid approach can be particularly effective, combining the convenience and diversity of online learning with the hands-on experience and interpersonal interaction of face-to-face training.

For example, an employee might take an online course in advanced Excel functions and then attend a workshop where they apply these skills in a collaborative project. This mix of learning methods can provide a more comprehensive and practical understanding of the material, leading to better retention and application of skills.


The shift from traditional, uniform professional development methods to a more varied, customizable approach represents a significant advancement in employee training and education. By embracing the professional development buffet offered by new online platforms, companies can ensure that each employee receives the most relevant and effective training. This not only enhances individual performance but also optimizes the use of company resources, leading to a more skilled and efficient workforce.