#Twinning With Personal and Professional Development

By Dalin Larsen

Blame it on the lack of transferable skills that leaves companies scrambling to fill thousands of open positions. Blame it on millennials and their “me” focus. Blame it on technology’s disruption of all things work-related.

No matter how you think we got here, the modern workplace is one where personal development and professional development look nearly identical.

Of course, employees expect job-related learning opportunities—and according to our research, 86 percent of millennials say they’ll be loyal to companies that made their career training and development a priority. But are they only thinking about current and future occupational skills? Our stats point to the opposite—since only 8 percent of employees we interviewed have a clear vision of what their ideal job would be.  

According to Gallup, management’s new responsibility is to uncover what motivates each employee, then seek ways to align those interests with the company’s. A tall order, no doubt. But the payoff of a fully engaged workforce means there is no other option.

The State of the Global Workplace report discovered some traits that engaged employees have in common:

• 82 percent strongly agree that they like what they do each day
• 65 percent strongly agree that they learned something or did something interesting the previous day

Wouldn’t those highly personal, beyond important career drivers influence whether daily work was enjoyable or interesting?

And since none of us can fully separate our home and work selves, no matter how much work-life balance we achieve, companies must find ways to develop their highly complex, highly human (for now) capital. Here’s how:


• Help employees discover their ‘why’ – until recently, asking for and documenting each employee’s intrinsic motivators was cumbersome at best, and nearly impossible to standardize org-wide. So we developed a deck of cards that makes it easy to uncover the personal motivators unique to each employee. The Career Drivers deck adds standardization and scalability for your whole crew in a simple format that focuses on tapping into the hidden potential and desires of your employees. Learn more about how we developed the Career Drivers—and how they work—here.

• Give employees some control in their development path – a little autonomy goes a long way with modern workers, who have a myriad of interests and goals. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, managers only recommend L&D programs to direct reports who have expressed interest in a new skill 7 percent of the time. Use self-directed learning and custom learning pathways to enable employees to pursue development that’s in step with their interests and cut out the super-busy middleman or woman.

• Pass the mic – if your employee is an expert in a specific field or subject, enlist him or her to author training materials to help spread the knowledge. Putting on the instructor’s hat develops transferable skills your resident expert may not use in their day-to-day. Sharing insights doesn’t have to be complicated—your subject-matter experts can serve as model responses or mentors during video-enabled development exercises for the whole team.

• Assign short-term and stretch assignments – empower employees to try adjacent roles or skills on for size through projects that require functioning outside their comfort zone, possibly with co-workers they haven’t interacted with much. Pushing the envelope can also mean coaching a fellow team member encouraging a wallflower to take the lead on a group project.

• Train managers to be effective coaches – managers with mad coaching skills have high-performing teams, which is something all companies can aspire to. It’s about more than conducting regular 1:1s. Teach managers how to ask the right questions, develop just-structured-enough plans and offer resources to help employees grow on their terms.

• Commit to ongoing development discussions – just like performance discussions no longer make sense to have once a year, career development convos should frequently be part of manager-employee conversations. According to our research, 79 percent of employees want monthly or quarterly career convos, yet “tasks-at-hand” conversations dominate 1:1s nearly 3/4 of the time.  


If you don’t have the tools in place to make professional development more personal, we’ve got your back. Snag a free deck of Career Drivers to uncover what motivates your employees and get the ball rolling for a super-engaged workforce and learn how understanding your employees’ drivers is key.

For additional tips to help you grow and retain your best people, download our e-book, “The Future of Work: 10 Essentials for Winning Employee Development.”

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