In today’s competitive world professional competence depends on many different things, but one of the most important remains the ability to continually upgrade our knowledge and skill sets. Professional security is no longer something that can simply be found in a job or in a company. True security is found by making yourself as marketable as you can possibly be, and applying a well-rounded and well-conceived professional development plan is an important step in helping to get there.
There are many things that are part of a successful professional development plan, to include continuing education, training and skills development, lifelong learning activities, intellectual nourishment and exposure to new ideas, our own professional experience, and personal and professional networking opportunities. But each plan must be custom-made to fit the needs and capabilities of the individual, as well as the professional path that each and every one of us believes will lead us in the right direction. And as we explore the possibilities, we must contrive a plan that best fits our personal skills, abilities, goals and objectives. Managing for success only works for us when we have defined what we consider success to be. Only you can make that decision. And only you can put that plan into action.
- Building a plan begins by reflecting on our individual talents, skills and knowledge. We should recognize our greatest strengths, and seek ways to take those skills to another level. However, it is perhaps more important to identify our potential developmental opportunities, which is an essential aspect of self-improvement. Learn to be self-critical in a constructive way, and see your developmental needs as a means to move forward. Everyone has areas where they can improve. Then find ways to create activities and formulate future strategies that will help to address the learning and developmental needs that you have identified.
- We all understand the need to develop talents, knowledge and abilities in our chosen field. But it’s also necessary to broaden our base of expertise to include other areas of the retail business as well, providing additional options that may allow for the prospects of moving into another position should the need, desire or opportunity arise; and a greater understanding of the business as a whole so that you may better apply your loss prevention skills. By the same respect, we should also work to improve upon or acquire additional non-technical knowledge and skills that can help to prepare us for greater responsibilities if and when such opportunities present themselves. This might include attending specialized management seminars, programs that help refine communication or presentation skills, classes that build better report-writing skills, and similar options.
- An education is an investment that we make in ourselves. Structured training and development such as certificate programs and continuing education can help address areas of improvement and build upon areas you consider to be you personal strengths. Remember that education includes much more than formal learning, and seek out different means to meet those needs. Conferences, associations and other functions are good sources of information and tremendous networking opportunities.
- Don’t simply put a plan into action—make sure that you are following through; and taking the necessary steps to evaluate the results. Reflect on how well planned objectives have been achieved and any additional steps that may be necessary to reach your goals.
There are no limits to the range of subjects that can be included in a professional development plan. But if you hope to maximize your potential it is essential to maintain superior levels of professional competence by continually developing your skills, your abilities, and your base of knowledge. It’s no longer enough to have information; we must be able to effectively apply and share that information as well. The way that we see things and the methods that we apply are evolving, and are just as important when considering our professional development.
Retail is an extremely competitive industry and loss prevention has become an integral function of a successful retail model. In order to remain successful we must be able to perform our responsibilities with optimum efficiency, make sound judgments and interact appropriately with customers and professional colleagues. Our professional competence must be characterized by strong problem-solving and decision making skills, a superior knowledge base, and an ability to effectively apply our knowledge and experience to the diverse situations that we face on a day to day basis.
As we look to take our careers to the next level, it’s important to realize that we can’t reach for the stars without establishing a strong foundation. Finding the best loss prevention jobs isn’t simply something that just happens. Strategic thinking, smart decisions, and tactical planning helps to create the opportunities that set us on the right path.