Personal development and business growth

We should all be aware of how beneficial Personal Development Plans (PDPs) are for individuals, but how could implementing a staff-wide PDP programme benefit a business?

Here are a few examples. Personal Development Plans:

  • Help engage your staff: they are a personal roadmap and career development plan too. An engaged workforce is more productive and happier, and it improves their mental health and wellbeing
  • Help spot potential problems with your teams before they happen allowing you to take action and thus minimise staff turnover
  • Help your recruiting process because you will have data from your existing staff which will enable you to create job roles and training programmes designed to attract high calibre candidates
  • Highlight staff who are being underutilised allowing you to put plans in place to develop those people more effectively with in-house training
  • Could develop in-house talent by identifying personnel who are in the ‘wrong’ roles meaning you could opt to switch them to areas which better suit
  • Will enable you to identify skill gaps in your business and allow you to introduce training at an early stage
  • Used as a measurement of the progress of your business if viewed hand in hand with other stats. If performed consistently you should be able to track the changes implemented as a result of a PDP against company outputs such as profits and sales

What is Personal Development?

Personal Development hinges around a continual development of both career and personal life. It involves learning new skills, looking after your mental health and (possibly) gaining new qualifications leading to enhanced career opportunities.

It enables people to identify their strengths and weaknesses and create a plan which enables them to achieve their goals.

There are many benefits to be gained for an individual who begins a personal development journey. These are covered in two previous articles on What is a Personal Development Plan and the Benefits of a Personal Development Plan.

But, to summarise, a well-constructed PDP can greatly aid an individual’s mental health, wellbeing, career prospects and financial goals by helping to focus their aims and aspirations.

Having a plan for one’s working life also tends to have a positive knock on effect on personal life because it creates a framework around which a life strategy can be planned. Stress levels decrease whilst self-esteem and self-confidence grow, and we all know how much easier it is to maintain successful relationships when we really feel good about ourselves.

What is often not considered however, is just what an impact a company-wide personal development programme could have on a business’ operational effectiveness – and therefore the bottom line.

Let’s work through the bullet points at the top of this article in more detail.


We help businesses, large and small, grow and develop their bottom line.

Why is Personal Development Important to Business?

A Happy and Engaged Workforce

Fact: if your personnel genuinely feel you have their best interests at heart they will perform better.

According to Gallup a highly engaged workforce is 21% more productive! That’s BIG. Looking at it the other way around – if your workforce isn’t engaged you are potentially losing out on £21 in every £100. Can you afford to miss out on that kind of income?

Minimising Staff Turnover

Recruiting is expensive – there’s no getting over that. The advertising cost, the selection process, the interviews. Not to mention the inevitable bedding in of a new starter, plus kit and training.

If there was a way to minimise those costs by reducing staff turnover would you take it?

A properly implemented and managed PDP process could do just that because you will be able to spot disaffected staff BEFORE they reach the point of handing in their resignation.

You are then able to either re-engage that person in their existing role, move them to a new position, or (worst case scenario) use the information gleaned from the individual to ensure the post is recruited to effectively by adapting the job role/spec accordingly.

Aid the Recruitment Process

Even with a healthy review and development programme for your teams it’s inevitable some staff will move on.

However, if you have consistently recorded the data from PDP reviews you will be able to identify areas of concern: jobs roles, job descriptions etc. and ensure that future recruiting processes address those concerns.

Developing In-house Training

“What happens if we train them and they leave?” “What happens if we don’t train them and they stay!”

Source: Accialini Training

You will all have seen the above quote and it’s absolutely true!

Sure, you hire staff because they can do the job or have an aptitude for it, but any business needs to ensure staff can at some point competently perform their required duties and this is where training comes in.

PDPs will not only help you identify training shortfalls but will also enable you to spot those staff who are over performing and therefore being under utilised.

Providing relevant and good quality training to upskill your teams can only have a positive outcome – both for your people AND the business.

Developing In-house Talent

It’s always more cost effective to retain existing staff BUT you need to ensure they are in the right roles, not only for themselves as individuals but for the needs of the business.

People no longer come to work just for a salary. They need fulfilment as well.

PDPs will allow you to identify potential high flyers and get them into your talent stream early for training towards advancement.

They will also enable you to spot when people are in the wrong roles, perhaps they are having a tough time and seem disengaged.

Take the case of someone who perhaps came in at an entry level post and is still in it despite key indicators that they have the desire and ability to move up the ladder. If they aren’t given the opportunity to progress, they will undoubtedly look to move on, taking their talent and experience with them.

Identifying Skills Gaps

Undertaking regular PDP reviews with your staff is a great way to spot if you have any skills gaps.

You are then able to instigate appropriate training to plug the gaps allowing your staff to develop the necessary skills.

Alternatively you may choose deploy staff to different areas of the business which are perhaps more suited to their temperament and skill base.

Business KPIs

Collecting data from the PDPs, for example on job satisfaction, training needs, personal development etc. can be compared on a regular basis.

You can then map the results against outputs, sales/income/profit, allowing you to spot trends and identify what is working and what isn’t.

For example, does filling a training requirement add to increased output (work)? Did moving person A to another role affect their output/satisfaction as well as company needs?

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Other Great Reasons for Adopting PDPs in your Business

  • You could apply for Investors in People accreditation which can only help in your talent acquisition
  • It’s a great way of building company cohesion and teamwork
  • Training and retaining your workforce will reduce temporary hires and consultants to fill those awkward gaps
  • They create a feel good factor for your staff which in turn can increase loyalty to the business

When Should Staff be Engaged in Development?

This is entirely at the discretion of the business but it’s arguable that your staff would apply themselves more effectively to the process if it was carried out during business hours.

Making PDPs compulsory and then telling your teams that they will be expected to undertake their side of the process outside of their normal working hours in not likely to illicit a great deal of support – especially if YOUR part (as in the business) is undertaken during the working day.

If training requirements are identified that are clearly connected with their role in the business and the completion of the training has a beneficial impact on the business, then it should be offered during working hours. If this isn’t possible then either offer time off in lieu (for example if a course is at the weekend) or allow for flexible working (let an employee start later if they have an evening training session).

Also, for training/learning which is NOT on the job (e.g. machinery operation in a factory environment) why not consider allowing your staff to work from home every now and then on the understanding they use the time to further their learning?

Some employers seem wary of embracing home working but allowing your staff to do this underlines that you respect their autonomy and trust them to do what is expected and required. These are powerful and empowering messages for your workforce to hear and encourage loyalty and teamwork.

Although operating a PDP system is a wonderful way to keep your workforce engaged, be careful not to make it all about the business needs – after all the first P stands for Personal! Your teams need to see PDPs as a benefit to them and their development – yes, whilst ever they are in your employ this is tied to the business and its needs. However, that should not be seen as the reason they have to take part!

Are There Alternatives to Personal Development Plans?

Yes and no!

Some people talk about Professional Development as being different to Personal Development – however the two can be so closely intertwined as to be almost inseparable.

However, should a member of your team express a desire to take on a period of study or learning which has no connection to their working life – learning the guitar for example – it is entirely proper for you as the employer to insist that the lessons happen during their own time. This type of development being entirely personal would form part of their PDP, but it will not affect the professional development.

Conversely, in some circles, expressing a desire to take qualifications to further progression in a role would be seen as purely professional development. However, we see that the individual will be achieving the goals they set in their PDP meaning the qualifications are also personal.

Muddy waters perhaps, so why not simply treat the development of your staff both personally AND professionally as one and the same and encourage all your workforce to aspire to reach their personal and professional goals?

You could of course simply carry out annual reviews and performance management checks on an annual basis. However these can be so business goal orientated that they actually cause employees to switch of and disengage – quite the opposite of what your business really needs.

Annual reviews or performance management are also often seen as just exercises in picking up negativity, i.e. how someone has performed against a set outcome. Not reaching goals and outcomes is then perceived as failure.

The more holistic approach of PDPs is less likely to engender feelings of failure as they are more focused on development, less on targets – at least to the workforce.

Your Next Steps

If you are a business owner looking to develop a comprehensive Personal Development programme within your organisation, then get in touch.

Getting the procedures correct from the word go will minimise the time you need to spend tweaking and adapting, meaning your can begin to collect meaningful data immediately and, more importantly, begin to empower your teams.

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