You want your employees to grow. Your employees want to grow. But what’s the best way to encourage personal development?

If you’ve ever implemented personal development plans and been unhappy with the results, it could be because of one important factor. Personal development plans fail because they are not driven by the individual.

One of the most important competencies of a leader is the ability to develop leadership skills in their employees. Unfortunately, many people misunderstand this process. They offer development plans based on pre-packaged programmes or goals that they have set on behalf of the employee.

The fact is personal development plans only work if the employee wants it to work. And if the employee is motivated to grow, they must be a part of creating their personal development plan themselves.


Be a Good Coach

If you’ve identified employees who are motivated to grow, it’s time to start coaching them. Coaching does not mean incentivising, driving or pushing your employee towards goals you set for them.

Rather it’s about helping them create their own goals and roadmap. It’s then helping them be accountable to their own plan. Instead of giving advice or instruction, your role as a coach is to ask open-ended questions like:

  • “Who were you being in that situation?”
  • “What results are you hoping to get from this?
  • “How do you plan to get to this particular goal?

After asking these questions, your only job is to listen intentionally and possibly ask further questions. Help your employee unearth insights so that they can see the next steps on their personal development path.

You’re also there to provide accountability. Not through rewards, punishments or discipline, but again, by checking in and asking insightful questions. Your employee is driven by their own ambition to grow. All they need from you is for you to hold the framework together by continuing to encourage them, listen to them and provide any resources they need to accomplish their goals.


Know What Personal Development Is

In 1970, Richard E. Boyatzis, Ph.D., cultivated a definition of intentional development that holds true even today:

Intentional change involves envisioning the ideal self (who you wish to be and what you want to do in your work and life); exploring the real self (the gaps you need to fill and the strengths that will help you do so); developing a learning agenda (a road map for turning aspirations into reality); and then experimenting and practicing (with new behaviours and roles).

Personal development isn’t a straight line. It’s a cycle. Your employee should have a specific goal for their development and a clear roadmap to get there. Through each milestone along the way, they should go back through the process of assessing who they are being, what they want and what the gap is between where they are and what they want.

As a leader, you can help them by identifying checkpoints in their roadmap. Ask the questions they need to decide whether they’re on the right track or need to make adjustments.

Personal development is a long process. In actuality, it should be a never-ending process. Think of life-long learning. So, your role as coach and leader shouldn’t be seen as a finite position but rather as an evolving and indefinite relationship with the person you are working with.


Provide Helpful Feedback

Even though coaching does not mean advising, there is still a place for feedback. Feedback is not advice, discipline or anything that involves high emotion or reprimanding. Providing feedback is:

  • By permission: Make sure your employee is willing to listen to your feedback.
  • Detached from emotion: It’s not about you or your feelings on the subject, but rather unqualified information for the employee to interpret and use how they see fit.
  • Sometimes in the form of data: Feedback isn’t always one-on-one conversation. It can come in the form of customer satisfaction surveys or other scoring processes.

Make sure your employee knows the definition of feedback. Encourage them to agree not to take feedback personally. And then coach them on how to use their feedback to course correct to reach their goals.

Growth is an essential part of being human. It’s also essential to a company. Company growth can’t happen sustainably if the people in the company aren’t also growing. Coaching your employees is a valuable investment in your company, your employees and even your own personal development.

Make leadership development part of your HR strategy and empower your leaders to guide, coach and develop their team members. Contact us and find out how we can support you with our tailored leadership development programmes, coaching your leaders to success.