11 Opportunities for Development to Improve Your Professionalism

Updated April 28, 2023

Employees in every industry use diverse skill sets to meet their professional objectives. To become a well-rounded and effective employee, continuing to develop your professional skills is a great way to advance your career and feel fulfilled in your work. Learning about the different areas of professional development is a good starting point for identifying your professional strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement. In this article, we outline 11 opportunities for development for employees, along with tips to increase productivity and improve your professionalism.

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What are opportunities for development for employees?

Opportunities for development include chances to build the skills, qualities, characteristics, or attributes that benefit your professional life. When you focus on developing your professional skills, it may help you become more productive, be a more effective team member, and feel more satisfied with your work efforts. Managers and leaders who prioritize the professional development of their team members may create a company culture that values self-improvement and supports employees in reaching their goals for professional growth.


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Key areas of development

Here are some areas of professional development with tips and examples to help you grow in your career:

1. Goal-setting

Setting professional and career goals may help you progress in your work life. While work projects often include their own set of goals for meeting business objectives, you might also set personal goals to increase your productivity and performance. Having goals may help you see your progress as you develop your skills, which can bring personal pride.

There is no one right way to set goals. Some people may prefer to use a digital application to record their goals and monitor their progress, while others may simply write their goals in a notebook. Here are a few tips to help you set goals and measure your progress:

  • Be specific when defining your goals.

  • Split long-term goals into smaller, more manageable goals.

  • Keep a written or electronic record of your goals for easy referencing.

  • Challenge a friend, family member, or coworker to set a goal so you can encourage each other as you progress.

2. Communication

Communication is a valuable skill in any industry. This skill is especially important if you work as part of a team. Team members may have different backgrounds and communication preferences, so learning skills that help you adapt to different styles of communication may improve your teamwork and interpersonal abilities. Communication skills can help you build meaningful relationships with others, which can boost your team's productivity and contribute to a positive workplace environment. Here are some tips to help you improve your communication:

  • Use a variety of communication strategies, including group meetings, personal meetings, and electronic communication.

  • Ask your team leader to implement a consistent schedule for meeting times so communication becomes a regular part of your workweek.

  • Request that your team leader assigns rotating leaders for in-person meetings to encourage all team members to gain skills in listening to and leading conversations.

3. Collaboration

Collaboration is the ability to work toward a common goal with a diverse group of team members. Effective collaboration often begins with developing strong working relationships with other members of your team. This can mean building trust in your coworkers through good communication and a team-oriented attitude. Here are some tips to help you advance your collaboration skills:

  • Participate in group activities, whether they are work-related planning and idea development sessions or spending time together outside of work.

  • Use team-building activities or work retreats as opportunities to learn each other's strengths and weaknesses.

  • Get to know all your coworkers by finding opportunities to talk or work together on smaller projects so you can develop a comfortable working relationship ahead of any larger projects.

Related: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

4. Listening

Another valuable skill for building relationships with team members is listening. Practising your listening skills may help you create strong relationships, build trust with team members, understand diverse perspectives, and increase your knowledge on a variety of topics. In particular, active listening skills include the ability to give a speaker your full attention so you understand their message and can respond thoughtfully. Here are some tips for improving your active listening skills:

  • Make eye contact and give the speaker your full attention.

  • Allow the speaker to pause and think without interrupting.

  • Ask open-ended and thoughtful follow-up questions to demonstrate you understand, or request clarification.

  • Provide short, verbal affirmations like "I see" and "I understand" to show engagement without interrupting or changing the topic.

  • Summarize the speaker's message to show you were listening and give the speaker an opportunity to clarify concepts.

5. Conflict resolution

The ability to resolve conflicts with professionalism is an important workplace skill. There may be times when you disagree with a coworker, and you must work with them to overcome differences and move forward to reach objectives. Sometimes, you may seek outside advice or the help of a mediator to work through disagreements. Here are some conflict-resolution tips:

  • Attend a conflict-resolution training session or workshop to learn effective communication strategies and conflict management skills.

  • Take time to process your emotions about a situation so you can return to the issue with a calm demeanour before discussing your concerns.

  • Use affirming statements to show you recognize the other person's perspective, and use "I" statements to explain your feelings. For example: "I understand that you have a busy schedule, but when you arrive late for our meetings, I feel unappreciated."

Related: How to Resolve Conflict in the Workplace (With Strategies)

6. Flexibility

Flexibility allows employees to adapt to changes in the workplace. Since many businesses are dynamic environments, employees who feel comfortable changing plans or adjusting their work strategies may feel more confident navigating changes in the workplace. For example, an unexpected change in leadership, client preferences, or deadlines can affect your productivity and confidence. Here are some ways to improve flexibility in the workplace:

  • Accept in advance that the work required for a project may change before its completion.

  • Rely on input from team members when assessing changes to a project.

  • Practice self-care and stress-management techniques to stay calm and focused through challenges.

7. Organization

Organization is another skill that has value in almost any industry. Good organization can include the ability to manage your physical environment—for example, creating an effective filing system can be helpful. Organization can also include your ability to manage your time and prioritize tasks. Employees who stay organized may find it easier to access important information, meet deadlines, and stay focused on their tasks. Here are some tips to improve your organization:

  • Organize your materials during your workday. For example, you might spend the last 20 to 30 minutes of your workday filing paperwork, updating your progress in a spreadsheet or database, and writing a task list for the following day.

  • Design a consistent and functional system that includes clearly marked files, effectively named documents, and electronic databases backed up with physical files or on an external hard drive.

  • Place high-priority tasks at the forefront of your organizational system.

Related: Developing Proficient Organizational Skills

8. Accepting constructive feedback

Accepting feedback can help you understand your strengths and weaknesses. By listening to constructive feedback, you can identify areas for improvement and work to change your work habits and improve your performance. Here are some tips to be more open to constructive feedback:

  • Ask your employer or supervisor to provide positive feedback along with constructive criticism so you can learn from your strengths in addition to your weaknesses.

  • Request feedback on a consistent schedule so you can prepare yourself in advance and minimize how often you receive unexpected criticism.

  • Take time to process feedback before responding or asking follow-up questions about the comments.

9. Integrity

Integrity means acting ethically and honestly in the workplace. Having integrity means following best practices for following industry procedures. It also includes taking responsibility for mistakes and actively working to resolve errors. By behaving with integrity, you can gain the trust and respect of your team members. Here are some tips for showing integrity in the workplace:

  • Stay on task and make sure to complete assignments during company hours.

  • Meet your deadlines and follow up on promises or requests.

  • Respond to mistakes by accepting responsibility and working to find solutions and resolve errors.

  • Follow all policies and regulations as established by your industry or company.

10. Productivity

Overcoming distractions and staying productive can help you feel accomplished and fulfilled at the end of the workday. Developing a productive mindset can help you stay focused so you can meet your work objectives. Here are some tips to help you stay productive:

  • Limit distractions by focusing on one task at a time.

  • Establish a daily routine to minimize the time you spend planning your day or trying to transition between tasks.

  • Make time for short breaks throughout the workday such as taking a walk, stretching, or having a snack.

Related: Work Ethic and Success in the Workplace

11. Leadership

Finally, learning leadership skills can help you motivate others and promote good work within your team. Even if you don't work in a leadership position now, developing these skills can improve your teamwork and prepare you to take on leadership roles in the future. Here are a few tips for developing leadership skills:

  • Volunteer to take on projects or assist team members with their tasks.

  • Use critical-thinking skills to identify potential problems and create strategies to minimize or eliminate them.

  • Be a role model for others by having a positive attitude, arriving to work prepared, and demonstrating a strong work ethic.

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