The One Thing Your Professional Development Might Be Missing

As Agility Instructors and Coaches, we find ourselves in many different learning situations. Each of these learning situations brings participants with varying needs and perceptions about their upcoming training. We frequently encounter participants who feel they have been “sent to training as punishment.” Understandably, their attitude in the classroom reflects these feelings.These participants are resentful of their “forced” attendance, and grumble through training, closed off to the possibility of acquiring new skills, expanding their knowledge base, and improving their performance. A missed opportunity.

How Taking Ownership Eliminates Missed Opportunities

Professional Development - Take OwnershipRecently a colleague shared with us his experience of working with a company that approached training in a new way, and how their approach made a huge difference in the attitude and interest level of the participants. This company subsidized the time and most, but not all, of the cost of the training. People that wanted to attend the training paid a small percentage of the total training cost. This new approach did two things:

  • It increased the demand for attending the training.
  • It significantly increased the level of participation in the training.

While this is only one company’s approach, it’s interesting to note the positive outcome. When the participant is asked to invest in their own professional development, suddenly the responsibility of their learning shifts. By taking ownership of their professional development, participants show a greater desire to engage. When a participant is engaged, they actively learn. Taking ownership. That’s the missing thing.

It’s All About the WIIFM

So, you’re gearing up to take ownership of your professional development. As you go about it, don’t forget the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me.) When you’re talking professional development, every aspect must directly reflect the your WIIFM. The WIIFM gives adults the biggest bang for their professional development buck, so to speak.

30 years ago, Malcolm Knowles[1], the driving force behind popular Adult Learning Theory, developed several core principles of how adults learn. It’s all about taking ownership for their learning, and the all-important WIIFM. We bet these principles will resonate with you.

The One Thing Your Professional Development Might Be Missing - Self Direction


Adults seek out opportunities to direct their own learning. They use professional development training sessions to further enhance their self-directed learning efforts.

The One Thing Your Professional Development Might Be Missing - Experience


Adults enter their professional development, and enter every training classroom, with considerable experience. They want interaction, especially if it focuses on a shared experience.

The One Thing Your Professional Development Might Be Missing - Time Orientation

Time Orientation

Adults want to acquire skills to use now, not skills that may be helpful someday in the future. It’s the here and now that’s important.

The One Thing Your Professional Development Might Be Missing - Reality


Adults want how-to’s based in reality, not hypotheticals.

The One Thing Your Professional Development Might Be Missing - Self Esteem


Adults enter their professional development feeling that they having something to lose. It’s important to maintain their self-esteem during every interaction.

Now Is The Time To Take Ownership Of Your Professional Development

Let’s cut to the chase. It’s time to take ownership of your professional development. You know it is.

Want to Take Ownership Of Your Professional Development?

We’ve got a whole catalog of real-world, experiential, active learning opportunities for you.

As Always. Stay Agile.

Notes and Sources

1 Knowles, Malcolm Shepherd. The adult learner: a neglected species. Houston, TX: Gulf, 1996.