What do people understand by personal development

It is human nature to want to grow in a role. Accordingly, job satisfaction is not static, but changes over time. A job that you were excited about when you were 20 is unlikely to provide the same fulfillment once you are over 30. Therefore, the personal development of employees should be of great importance for companies that want to have a motivated and productive team.

Would you like to learn more about this topic? Download Employee Engagement eBook!
Download PDF

Personnel development activities ensure that employees see a clear path between their current situation in the company and the goals they want to achieve one day. Employees feel more attached to their company when they know that they are making an important contribution to the company's success and that they have attractive future prospects.

A lack of career opportunities or opportunities for advancement are the main reasons why employees leave their company. Gallup research shows that nearly a third of employees would leave an employer for career advancement elsewhere.

In addition, professional development and good career opportunities are very important for 87% of millennials. You are facing a future in a potential gig economy in which companies that offer real opportunities for advancement can easily differentiate themselves from the competition. The extent to which an employee feels that they have opportunities for growth and professional progress within a company is one of the key indicators with regard to employee turnover.

The stage of life in which an employee finds himself also plays a decisive role in how fulfilled he is in his position, how much effort he would like to invest in his work and how motivated he is to develop himself further. For young professionals, annual salary increases may not be as important as the opportunity to develop their skills. An employee who recently graduated may not feel as tied to a company as young parents, for example. Understanding how each stage of life affects personal development can help employers better understand their employees and create tailored development opportunities for them.

Donald Supers "Life Career Rainbow"

In 1980 the writer Donald Super presented a model that he called "The Life Career Rainbow" - a model for understanding and balancing an employee's self-image with his personal and professional life. The Life Career Rainbow marks the “life roles”, i.e. the stages of a person's life - child, student, leisure enthusiast, citizen, employee, parent, spouse and family person - at further career levels.


In his model, Donald Super outlined the following five phases of life that determine career development:

1. Growth (14 years and younger): Physical growth is the top priority in this phase of life. In the growth phase, people find out who they are and where their talents and interests lie.

2. Exploration (ages 14-25): In this phase, people begin to try out different roles that could later become their long-term career goals. He learns what is required in certain positions and which tasks he is ready to take on. At the end of the exploratory phase, most people have turned their attention to a certain occupation and defined the essential parameters (position, salary, working hours, performance, etc.). However, people could also be disappointed with their dream job later; therefore, it is not uncommon to return to this stage later in life to pursue a different career.

3. Establishment (26–45 years): At this point in time, people settle into their chosen career - they are productive, motivated and feel a sense of fulfillment in their work. Early on in this phase, employees can seek out an experienced mentor who will show them where their career should go. Man now understands the corporate culture and social mores of the job he will hold during his career. He feels both a sense of responsibility and personal responsibility for the work he has done.

4. Maintenance (46–65 years old): In this phase, the employee wants to maintain the dynamism achieved so far in his career. He attends training courses and conferences and reads specialist literature to keep up to date with his job. As a seasoned employee, he is not easily forgiven for mistakes and is also likely to be responsible for more than his own performance.

5. Withdrawal (from 65 years): After decades in the working world, people begin to detach themselves from their work in this phase. He no longer sees himself as a worker and prefers to take on the role of leisure and / or family person. He'll do the remaining chores before he retires.

How employers can support professional development

Managers should definitely be encouraged to advise and coach their employees. The supportive role of the manager has decreased somewhat in recent years due to increased responsibility and a higher workload. It is now essential to motivate and support your management to share their skills and knowledge with their employees in a more structured manner in order to promote long-term, positive development.

Establish an ongoing program to develop skills and knowledge in your company. Information is becoming obsolete faster than ever before. It is therefore important that companies make learning a permanent goal per se. Be careful, however, of your employees' workload: don't force employees who are already overworked to take on additional responsibilities related to their personal development. Instead, employees should be able to choose further training opportunities and make them as flexible as possible. With mobile training z. B. for on the go or at home or ad-hoc further training options, which are then selected when the time is right, you can respond effectively to the busy schedule of your employees.

Build trust in your company's executives. A survey by the American Psychological Association shows that only half of employees expect openness and honesty from their employer. One in four states that they do not trust their employer at all. This lack of trust inevitably leads to motivational problems in personal development. Employees long for reliability in a management team. One that sets a good example and does not follow an approach that says, “Do what I say and don't ask awkward questions.” Embody a company that attracts talent through a culture of honesty and transparency .

Promote a culture that enables employees to shape their own career development. With five generations of employees ranging from traditionalists to Generation Z, a generic approach to workplace learning is no longer enough. However, employers can set the values ​​and the cultural framework that encourages and rewards each employee for personal development. Try to provide a set of personal development plans that are flexible enough to benefit employees regardless of age, hierarchy level, or role.

How individuals can work on their personal development

Inquire about opportunities to accompany other employees for a day in your company. Observing other roles can give you a holistic view of your company's goals, while at the same time becoming more aware of your role and value in the organization. You can learn new skills and systems as well as how to use specific software from your colleagues. By the way, you also make yourself more valuable to your company.

Explore new things to broaden your experience. It's easy to go about your routine alone. Trying out other areas can, however, revitalize your motivational skills and bring some variety to your work. The experience and skills that you gain through new tasks, combined with an open-minded, team-oriented attitude, increase your career opportunities considerably.

Take part in courses and training to expand and deepen your knowledge. New concepts and procedures are constantly being introduced in many areas. Stay up to date on your job and your industry. An innovation you read about could be useful for your next big project.

Find a mentor that you value. Mentors can be encouraging role models. Ask an experienced colleague whose way of working impresses you whether they would exchange thoughts over coffee or whether you could discuss an idea with them. He will likely feel honored and of course offer his support. Leaning on someone else's experience is a great way to gain knowledge and familiarize yourself with new things.

Find out how your company supports your continuing education. Many companies now offer study-related programs for Bachelor and MBA programs. If you are thinking about completing a (further) degree, your company may want to invest in your future skills and knowledge.

Finally, ask yourself: Would you like to share your studies, further education or experience with your team? Others in your company can benefit from your expertise. Put together a presentation to educate your employees about your skills. This could inspire others to do the same and is sure to attract the attention of upper management.

Whether you want to help your employees achieve their personal development goals or whether you want to develop yourself: it is important to understand where you are now and what you define as success. By understanding what your employees want and need in certain phases of their careers, you can create a value-adding environment for further development.