Choosing Your Continuing Professional Development

Back to schoolChoosing what Continued Professional Development (CPD) you should do to ensure you develop yourself appropriately can seem daunting given the number of offerings out there. However, you can make the process easier if you ask yourself a few basic questions such as, “what challenges am I facing in my coaching work?”, “what do clients need that I am not able to offer?” and “which areas of coaching am I finding more of a challenge even though I have qualified?”

As you gain more experience it is useful to keep a ‘coach diary’ where you write down your thoughts about the challenges you have and those areas you find problematic. In addition, as you gain more experience you may want to develop your abilities in specific areas. For example, you may find that you really enjoy working with certain types of client challenges and need to deepen your knowledge of those areas so you can develop more of an expertise leading to you eventually stating that these are areas of specialism. At the same time you may discover that in the more generic work you do there are gaps in your knowledge and whilst these are not areas of expertise they are areas of competence as a generic Executive Coach. Keeping your own development diary where you write down your thoughts, what is going well, the questions and challenges you have gives you one place (just as when coaching clients keep a journal) to log your thoughts and feelings.

It is often useful to spend the first year after qualifying just getting used to coaching and then evaluate what you have learned at the end. This will then lead you to group your thoughts together so that you can design a development plan. Each year at a given point, whether at the end of that year or the beginning of the next, reflect on what you have written and the key skills/knowledge that you need to know more about so this forms the basis of your CPD Development Plan for the next year. You may find that when you look at what you have written it falls into different defined areas. Write out your headings and add your thoughts to each heading.

Once you have done this you may then have to make some difficult choices. Most professional bodies ask coaches to complete 30 hours of CPD per year and many, such as the Association for Coaching UK, have a CPD form you can download from their website with information on CPD. Most coaches, if you add in reading relevant materials let alone attending seminars, courses, lectures etc do far more than 30 hours a year but 30 hours is deemed as the minimum. The 30 hours can be made up of ‘input’ (courses, reading, seminars etc the coach has engaged in) or ‘output’ (courses, seminars, talks etc) the coach has given. After all there is learning in what you give as much as what we receive and this is acknowledged within most professional body CPD frameworks.

Once you have the list of items you want to learn more about the challenge is then deciding what areas from the list is the most important area(s) for you to develop. Once you know this you can then set about finding the provider that will meet your needs. For example, you may feel that using psychometrics would be helpful to you and then you would need to gain the basic Level A and Level B accreditation which would then allow you to choose the psychometric tool(s) that you would find most useful, e.g. Myers Briggs, OPQ, Hogan etc.

This would then become the main focus of your CPD for the year ahead. Alternatively, your clients may be presenting with issues around confidence and you would then decide to undertake a confidence training programme.  Having said this as you develop as a coach you may find that you have gained a good grounding in a number of areas and want to consider more your personal areas of interest. For example, you have all the skills to work with your clients but want to know more personally about the area of Narcissism as you begin to think that this could be an interesting topic. It is useful to talk to other coaches about the courses they have attended to find the one that most closely matches your needs.

CPD is based on your needs and your areas of interest and can be an exciting way of not only helping clients but also learning more about the world in general.