Personal Development For Lifelong Learning

Part of an employee’s personal development is work-related, but there is more. When you think about an employee’s personal development, do you think about the skills they need to maintain their current position, get a promotion, or transfer to another department? Improving core skills such as analytical abilities, critical thinking and/or decision making? Have the skills to take on a leadership role and manage staff? Getting high credentials?


Assuming that, organizational leaders should:

1. Make sure you understand what employees do and how it fits with the company’s goals
2. Let employees do what you’ve assigned them to do (leverage their strengths and interests); No one likes to be micromanaged
3. Challenge employees with stretch goals
4. Encourage employees to learn new things and give them the tools they need to learn:

  • Read books, magazines, trade journals, newsletters, blogs
  • Watch online videos, listen to podcasts
  • Take courses (in person, online) and attend webinars, workshops, conferences
    • Company Provided Training – Microsoft Office, application-specific courses
    • Hard skills like SQL class, foreign language
    • Effective communication skills – writing classes or speaking training (eg, Toastmasters)
    • Other soft skills – time management, problem solving
    • Learning Platforms – LinkedIn Learning, Masterclass
  • Leadership training
    • Supervisor Skills, Management Trainee Program
    • Some people want to manage, but others don’t, and that’s okay
  • Professional license, certification (eg, PMP, CISSP), college degree
    • Don’t forget to support CPE (Continuing Professional Education) requirements
  • Groups – professional associations, networking groups, etc.
  • Other – Internships, volunteer opportunities

These are great work-related considerations, but there are many more. There is a saying by Confucius: “I want you to be everything you are, deep in the center of your being.” Are you encouraging employees’ personal development (and the key word is personal) to become the best versions of themselves? Have you asked them what is important to them? If it’s important to them, it should be important to you.

Developing a growth mindset

Personal development is a lifelong practice and it’s never too late to start. Encourage employees to develop a growth mindset and continue learning while working for the organization. Opportunities include:

1. Improve their quality of life such as health/fitness, self-care, self-confidence

2. Self-development to fully develop their character, abilities and potential

  • Cultivate the habit of reading
  • Personal finance, personal creativity or other personal related practices
  • Even if the “job-related” skills listed above are not relevant to their current role
  • Some companies (such as Amazon, Chipotle, and Starbucks) have free or virtually free college programs for front-line employees, which remove financial barriers.

3. Make their dream come true – perhaps becoming an entrepreneur and starting their own business

How to Create a Custom Personal Development Plan for Employees

Online learning, education concept

Does your organization recognize that they need to think differently about developing employees? They should work with the employee to create a customized personal development plan (PDP) based on what the employee is interested in (including work and personal aspects). Four basic steps:

1. Conduct a self-assessment

2. Set and prioritize goals (both short and long term) Break down goals into manageable tasks

3. Create a step-by-step plan identifying required resources, timelines, etc.

  • Identify goals to achieve goals as well as strategies to accomplish tasks
  • Identify any weaknesses, development needs, barriers

4. Measure progress

  • Reward and celebrate successes
  • Be prepared for setbacks – adjust and course correct

As a leader, be available when employees want to talk to you and check in with them periodically to make sure they have a good work-life balance. Both of these can be good coaching/mentoring opportunities.

When a comprehensive personal development plan is in place, the employee is more likely to be excited about what’s next (and stay with the organization longer). For more information on personal development, Follow me on LinkedIn!

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