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Personal development - why it is far from just personal

Personal development is one of a multitude of phrases used to describe people working on an aspect of themselves; it could be an attitude, a behaviour or a skill. Fundamentally, it implies that personal growth and progress will be the result.

However, the danger with this term comes when it is considered that only the individual themselves benefits. Even in non-work contexts, this is unlikely to be the case.

Consider the impact if your line manager goes on a leadership skills programme. Assuming they implement some of the positive skills and behaviours that they learn, then in the short-term the main positive impact is on the people who work for them. In the medium to long-term, this will benefit both the organisation (as a well-managed team are likely to work better and achieve more) and the individual themselves, as they experience the benefits from the team being happier and working better, as well as greater recognition from their seniors, as the team is achieving more.

There is usually a similar effect for any individual working on their personal development.

Making your case for personal development - 5 tips

Assuming that the area of personal development that you want to focus on will have some benefits that affect others, even if indirectly, it is important that you make the case well for asking your organisation for support, whether that be financial, time and/or both. After all, your line manager may not automatically see the positive knock on effects for the organisation. Here are my top tips for making your case for support for personal development:

  1. Be specific about the area of personal development you wish to focus on.

  2. Be able to articulate clearly how developing in this area will deliver a benefit(s) to the organisation.

  3. Do some research, does your organisation have a preferred list of people to assist/training programmes to consider or would it be down to you to suggest a person or programme? If it is the latter, seek out some potential options and associated ways of working (including time investment) and cost.

  4. Consider how you will make your commitment to the development and the organisation clear on-going, so they are encouraged to support you.

  5. Think carefully about the context and timing of the conversation.  Consider when your line manager is most likely to have time for the discussion and be receptive.

Many of my individual clients work with me privately and their organisations have no idea they have invested time and money on their development. Of course, it is a personal choice if you want to make public what you want to work on. However, if you are prepared to be open and there is a clear benefit to your organisation, it can make things easier for you to ask for their support. Many have individual budgets set aside which may not get used unless you ask! Most personal development work does not only benefit the person undertaking it.

Also, don’t underestimate the importance of non-technical ‘soft’ skills. They should get as much focus as technical ones. Read more to find out why.

If you would like to talk about your personal development at work, why not book a complimentary 30 minute Career Booster session with me to talk it over?