Since employees are the backbone of your company, focusing on how to foster people’s development in the workplace should be a priority. If you aren’t developing your employees to the level they can reach, then your company won’t be able to reach its highest potential.

What Is People Development?

People development is when your employees get the ability to gain the knowledge, skills, and drive to reach the goals they have for their careers. You may hear people development referred to as employee development, but they aren’t necessarily the same thing.

Employee development focuses on moving employees up to higher positions in the company. In contrast, people development focuses on developing skills that can be broader than just position-specific skills. It’s the strategy of developing people to become better in any employment setting.

The main difference here is that people development focuses on what each individual team member wants to achieve in their career. The development opportunities given to employees can vary based on the field or position they are eyeing long-term. Employee development is often a more general approach to development instead of laser-focused to each person.

People Development

Benefits of People Development

When you’re developing the people in your company in specific and useful ways, there are many benefits! Some of the most common perks companies see include:

  • Increased productivity
  • More talent applying
  • Lower turnover rate

How Managers Can Affect Development

How you manage your team can make or break your employees. It’s a common saying that people leave managers, not jobs. This means that people will stay in their job if they’re happy with their manager and feel they’re being properly developed.

In fact, not having enough development opportunities is one of the top reasons employees choose to leave a company. This means that in order to improve your team’s retention, focusing on the people development is a priority, not a choice.

Of course, not every member of your team responds to development in the same way. In order to figure out how your people want to receive development, you’ll need to talk to them about their career goals. These conversations should happen regularly and with employees of all levels.

When you have these conversations, ask about what each employee’s dream position is in the company. When you have this information, you can better determine the type of development they need to reach their goals. Too often, managers focus on a blanket people development approach instead of adjusting it to meet individual goals.

Not every employee wants to reach the top of the company, and that’s okay. Some entry-level employees may want to move to the financing department or maybe marketing. These departments require different skills, so you should mentor each team member accordingly.

Of course, you may end up with mid or upper-level employees who say they’re in the position they want. If that’s the case, you can help them reach their fullest potential in their current position. However, don’t be afraid to check in with them about their goals from time to time because they may decide they want to move up later.

Helping Your People: Things To Remember

As the leader of your team, your biggest priority should be to help every member of your team develop and learn new skills regularly. In order to do this to the best of your ability, there are some tips you should keep in mind!

Make Learning a Long-Term Priority

It’s crucial that your employees stay up to date on every change that occurs in the workplace. With how quickly technology changes, it’s likely that skillsets are changing almost as quickly.

With this in mind, you should make sure all of your people are getting development opportunities regularly. This can help avoid more experienced employees from falling behind due to a lack of learning.

Remember that no one ever knows everything there is to know about their position. Foster an environment of continuous learning by setting the example yourself. When there are tech changes at work, you should sit in on the training with your employees. This can help them see how important it is.

Of course, don’t forget to focus on soft skills as well. It’s crucial to help your team stay fresh on their skills in areas like empathy, communication, and problem-solving. These skills can help your employees succeed in any position they hold. While you hope to keep them in your company forever, it’s wise to help them develop skills they can use in many career fields.

Remember That Every Role Is Vital

For a long time, the only goal in a company was to promote team members all the way up the ladder to top management. There wasn’t anyone who was pointing out that not everyone should be or wants to be management. Forced promotions can lead to burnout and unskilled leaders, both of which are harmful to the overall company.

It’s important to remember that just because an employee has the skill set to excel in their current position doesn’t mean that those skills will equate to great management. It’s also crucial to remember it’s okay if your top employee wouldn’t make a great manager.

For example, your top-performing employee may be that way because they excel at self-starting and they strive to be the best on the team. However, they may not be great at motivating the people around them or harboring a team environment due to their competitive tendencies.

This doesn’t make them useless employees. The skill set that they show in their position is one that you should honor and celebrate for the help it brings the company! In situations like this, it’s best to sit down with the employee and see what their goals are long-term. This will allow you to create a personal plan to develop their skills.

Show Your Employees Their Importance

This is especially true for entry-level employees. It can be hard for some employees to see how their position makes a difference for the company. When they don’t see value in their job, the morale and motivation to succeed aren’t there. People development is crucial at all levels, and it starts with people seeing their value where they are!

Take time to help your employees understand why you chose them for the position they’re currently in and the impact that they’ve been able to make already. From here, you can learn what goals they have and share opportunities for development that are relevant.

Letting your employees know why they’re doing the tasks they have can make a huge difference in how motivated they are. You don’t want your employees thinking they aren’t essential just because they’re in an entry-level position. That’s why it’s crucial to make everyone see their worth while they are also working on developing skills to move forward.

Development Options to Implement

Now that you know what to remember when it comes to people development and the importance of it, it’s time to look at some ways to start prioritizing it!

Skills Gap Analysis

The first step to proper people development is finding out where your employees currently stand. Performing a skills gap analysis will help you see where each of your employees has potentially fallen behind in necessary skill sets so you know where to begin in development.


Starting a mentoring program is a useful way to allow your employees to make connections, learn new skills, and become more motivated to grow in the company. In fact, more than 70% of Fortune 500 companies have mentorship programs!

These programs have many perks in addition to the help they provide individual employees. Having a mentorship program can help your company too! Companies with mentorship programs in place tend to see:

  • Higher retention rates
  • More productivity
  • Fewer skill gaps
  • Better culture

Online Options

You likely have employees who prefer self-paced development. Plus, there has been a huge rise in remote workers over the last couple of years, so online options are even more important.

Consider implementing online development training courses when possible. There are many types of training programs, so you’re likely to find one that will allow your employees to work on their skills online. While there are benefits to in-person training sessions, some people thrive better with independent skills training.


People development is crucial to developing your company into what you want it to be. It’s important to remember that the workplace is much different now than it used to be, so development should look different as well.

When it comes to development, it’s best to focus on the goals and plans of each employee. This allows you to develop a personal development plan tailored to each employee. When employees feel they’re getting development options that are relevant to them, they’ll be more likely to stay motivated to complete them.

Development looks different for everyone, and that’s the beauty of it. As a manager, your biggest goal should be developing your team into successful people motivated to do their best and reach their goals!