August 21, 2019
Training and Development 17 January 2018
How to Encourage Employee Personal Development Without Imposing It
Olivia Ryan

Personal development is key to nurturing and utilizing talent in work. As an employer, you must continually invest in creating opportunities for personal development, providing your employees with everything from leadership training to building new skills.

According to Folkman, using a general development plan is almost certainly leading to failure. This means that, in order to help your employees reach their full potential, you need to create a development plan that actually fits their interests and skills, without impositions. 

Here are seven ways to help you keep employees engaged and encouraged to take the necessary action to make the business bloom:

1. Create a Development Plan

'The secret to creating a good personal development plan is not really a secret. The entire idea of the word 'personal' states the obvious answer – you need to make individual plans instead of general ones" – says Lee Keen, HR manager at

The first step in creating opportunities for personal development is planning for it. Instead of looking into successful strategies of others online, and implementing these in your own company, you need to be unique. You need to be realistic. Everything else will come in the form of pushing the employees to do something they may not want to do. That is certainly not a way to help someone achieve the common goal.

Your development plan should provide the employees with a roadmap of measurable goals and deadlines they can understand and implement in the daily routine. Just take the time to discuss the plan with your employees, and make sure to consider their feedback.

2. Encourage Networking

Networking is not a necessary evil for a company. On the opposite, the right implementation of networking could help your employees grow into their roles and follow the development plan mentioned above. 

How can you achieve this?

Boost the networking skills by creating opportunities for your employees to meet, discuss the job and the strategies. Allow them to feel more appreciated and encourage them to express their opinion. 

3. Recognize Accomplishments

Appreciation is key to motivation when it comes to employees. Unlike what many think, you don't necessarily need to create costs to recognize accomplishments. As a matter of fact, you can make your employees feel valued by doing very little.

Of course, a big success on behalf of an employee requires big recognition, usually in the form of promotion or a raise. However, the idea that you should only reward employees when they do something big is detrimental for your business, which means that you must keep employees appreciated at all times. 

4. Create Opportunities

Many employees believe that they can only prove themselves within the job function. This should not be the case. An employee should strive to achieve more for the company, and be rewarded for it. 

In order to allow this to happen, you need to start providing opportunities that are not necessarily in the job function. Create opportunities that are optional instead of mandatory. This will allow for development without imposing it.

Can you think of anything the employee can do outside of their job function? The additional tasks and responsibilities should increase their motivation and expand the skill sets, as well as improve their chances at climbing higher on the career scale.

5. Give Constructive Feedback

Constructive feedback does not include criticism or disapproval. Instead, it comes in the form of specific recommendations for development and improvement, given on regular basis. 

When giving feedback to your employees, aim to guide them through professional development. They will want to know how they are doing, so make sure to either acknowledge their success or give constructive feedback that will guide them in the right direction.

6. Remove Barriers

It is time to knock down the walls that made cross-functional development challenging in your company. If you learn to do so, you can boost the dynamic growth and allow for high-performance training. 

Employees today are most likely to enjoy a work environment that is more flexible and open. Give them some space to explore. Taking the barriers away will actually allow for personal development in employees, instead of preventing them to flourish.

7. Set an Example

You cannot teach an employee to do something if you are doing the opposite. Guiding an employee includes modeling their behavior, which can only be done if you actually set an example.

What you do in the company will show the employees the organization's culture. If you do things right, you are sending the message that your actions are expected from everyone else in the organization. 

The seven development tactics above can be implemented in your strategy regardless of the type of organization in question. Of course, you should always aim to create a strategy that fits your specific organization and employees to achieve optimal results.

About author: Olivia is a journalist who always tries to see the bright side of things. She likes to inspire people in her writings and to enjoy a mysterious beauty of twilight. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter