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The Formula For Effective Personal Development Discussions

Personal development discussions are a vital part of making your team members feel valued. Here’s how to go about it.

Conducting personal development discussions on a one-to-one basis will help you to understand your team members’ aspirations and goals. What’s more, it’s a vital part of managing your relationships and will help your reports to feel more valued, encouraging them to do better work and to ultimately stay with your organisation for longer.


Here are some key questions that you might want to ask:

  • What are your career goals?
  • Are there any future roles within the organisation that you’d like to progress to?
  • What are your strengths and how could you use them more?
  • Have you identified any skills that would help you in the future?
  • What support do you need from your manager or the organisation to help you to realise your potential?
  • What further learning or training would be useful for you?
  • What reading, videos, webinars or other content is available to help your learning?


You can use the list below to capture development needs and your subsequent plan of action:

Goal e.g. Lead meetings
Activity required Learn how to chair a team meeting, agree on actions and follow up with the team
Deadline March
Completed? In progress

While line managers should help employees to put their plan together, each individual should take ownership of their personal development and provide regular updates during their one-to-ones.

You should ensure that you regularly update your team with any new learning opportunities available and help them to take on new challenges that fit with their development goals.


Activities to support personal development

Personal development should be tailored to the goals of the individual. Staff who report to you will look to you as a line manager to help them understand how they can develop.

The following list illustrates a range of opportunities that can be useful for helping the individual to progress and develop.

Mentoring: A fantastic way to learn from a role model situated outside the daily workplace, who can hence offer an independent perspective.
When to use it: The individual needs help crafting their career path or an independent voice to help share their thoughts and ideas. Many people utilise mentors to overcome challenges and adversity.

Buddying: A great way to develop through peer-peer support.
When to use it: For use from two perspectives: upskilling junior employees and helping them to feel part of the culture; and giving leadership or coaching opportunity to more senior team members.

Development hours/work shadowing: Spending time with a department, team or specific role in order to improve understanding.
When to use it: The individual has an interest in a specific business area or role but is not entirely sure of the granular detail involved.

Skills-based development e.g.
Communication: Charing team meetings, writing team briefing emails or presentation skills training.
Leadership/managing others: Buddying a junior member of the team to improve in a specific area or deputising as manager.
Time management: Using a priority matrix or organisational tasks (such as calendar management or to-do lists).
When to use it: When gaps are identified, this kind of training can focus the individual on activities that help to build specific skill sets. You may also identify other skills gaps not shown here, so you’ll have to be creative in using the tools and resources that you have access to, such as internet search, Google Scholar, TED talks and YouTube, and by asking colleagues. Ensure that the individual also seeks opportunities for their development as only they can truly drive their personal development.

Educational qualifications: Depending on the level and type of qualification, an internet search will soon return a range of options – including lots of free to access online content.
When to use it: The individual needs to gain an educational qualification to enable their development or their next career move e.g. an accounting qualification.

Professional certificates/membership: Align to the professional body that gives the best return on investment for that individual. Think about learning opportunities and what responsibilities team members have. Individuals can also benefit from the resources that professional bodies host – from reading materials, webinars and videos through to events, mentoring and networking opportunities.
When to use it: Where there are bodies that the individual should align to as a professional in a certain industry or skill type.

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