Growing your professional development as a facilitator
A Q&A with Jan Alley of Jan Alley & Associates

tetrahedronsWith the explosion of social and online media, accessible learning has never been easier. With everything from social sharing on Twitter to global MOOCs, furthering your professional development is often just a click away.

With over 20 years’ experience in the learning and development industry, Master TetraMap Facilitator Jan Alley understands the need to continually develop her skills and find the balance between giving out and taking in. As Jan told us in an interview, “From my point of view, professional development is constantly looking at the competencies that you need.” TetraMap sat down with Jan to discuss how facilitators should constantly be learning, no matter what part of their career they’re in.

Tell us about your own professional development.

There are things that I have done that have got me to where I am now, for example, the TetraMap Certification course and the Master Facilitator programme. Since then, it is the act of facilitating followed by reflection that has increased my skill. The other part is developing the skills I need to run a business. For instance, when I needed to develop my marketing skills I attended an online marketing bootcamp. Then I plunged into online marketing and started to receive regular mentoring sessions with a specialised online marketing team. As long as I’m learning, that’s what keeps me going. To be a facilitator, where you’re giving out to others, you need to be constantly learning.

What advice can you offer other facilitators?

It starts with identifying what necessary skills you need to be good at. Ask yourself, “How would I currently rate? What could I do and where could I go for improvements?” Then seek out someone to talk to, go to a course, or find something online.

In general, do facilitators do enough professional development?

Unfortunately independent facilitators just don’t have the time because they are busy delivering workshops. But in general I have found people in this field have a high interest in learning and are very self-motivated.

As a facilitator, where you’re giving out to others, you need to be constantly learning.

As an independent, how do you find the balance?

Every year, I have something in mind that I’ve decided to learn about. Then, based on time, I decide how relevant it is. As I said, online marketing was a focus last year. This year, I’m focused on online learning and the move into the area of mindfulness, about which I’m doing a lot of reading. I’ll add other things as the year goes on if they interest me or relate to the work I’m doing.

What is the biggest change you’ve noticed in your learning approach?

I’ve developed a structured programme that I follow to make the learning happen. Also having a mentor or coach is great, especially when you’re working alone.

How do you keep TetraMap fresh?

Every time you deliver TetraMap, you learn something new. The Certified TetraMap Facilitator’s course is only the beginning of your TetraMap journey – you have to get out there, practise, and learn. I also use it as a base for planning and other projects such as my recent work in qualifications. My co-facilitator and I did the TetraMap of Planning to work out what results we wanted and what success would look like to us.

What’s the best way to keep learning?

It’s a combination of courses and reading. Attending a course offers a more formal structured learning environment to really hone your skills and abilities while reading offers awareness.

Jan Alley has over 20 years’ experience in in improving the performance of people. Her services include coaching, consultancy, keynote speaking, and facilitation, and clients range in industry from retail to professional services to local government. To get in touch with Jan, email

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