Tweak Your Biz » Management » Encouraging Continuous Self Development Among Employees

Encouraging Continuous Self Development Among Employees



Last year I attend a Personal Leadership and Influence course run by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).  As a follow-up to this course I was given the option of taking an assessment that would give me an official qualification from the CMI.  In this blog post I’d like to share with you, an answer that I gave to the following question: Explain the importance of encouraging continuous self development to achieving an Organisation’s objectives?

Continuous Self Development

Continuous Self Development is where individuals commit themselves to improving their knowledge and understanding throughout their careers.

By it’s nature personal development is a continuous process as outlined in the model below.

W.S Howell

This model was developed by W.S Howell in 1982 in his book The empathic communicator (University of Minnesota: Wadsworth Publishing Company)

Four stages

Howell describes the four stages as follows:

  1. Unconscious incompetence - this is the stage where you are not even aware that you do not have a particular competence.
  2. Conscious incompetence – this is when you know that you want to learn how to do something but you are incompetent at doing it.
  3. Conscious competence - this is when you can achieve this particular task but you are very conscious about everything you do.
  4. Unconscious competence – this is when you finally master it and you do not even think about what you have such as when you have learned to ride a bike very successfully”

There are many areas in which a person can move from from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence, and it is important that employers identify where they can help employees to make such shifts.

Related: The Importance Of A Personal Development Plan

Realising one’s full potential

As Henry Maslow outlined in his famous Hierarchy of Needs, when everything else is provided for, people are ultimately motivated by self actualisation i.e. realising one’s full potential.

  • An employer therefore must do everything possible to help employees reach this full potential.
  • Of course they must take care not ignore the other needs – psychological, safety, love & belonging, and esteem.

There are a number of areas where an organisation can benefit from having employees who continually develop themselves.  They include cost savings, time savings, new work habits, and an improved working climate, which would be evidenced by low, or reduced, turnover, staff commitment and satisfaction.

Related: Management Styles – Theory X And Theory Y

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue Airways is an example of this.  They “invest heavily in its crew-members by focusing on the development of leaders with the expectation that they will in turn treat their crew-members right and lead the company to prosperity”. Read more about this JetBlue case study by clicking here.

Conversely if there is no investment in continuous self development the opposite applies.

Examples of negative effects are:

  • the hours spent correcting mistakes,
  • the money wasted on unproductive performance,
  • and the costs of having to recruit and train unmotivated staff who have left the company.

Aerzen Machines

A good example of this can be found in the opening section of a case study about Aerzen Machines Ltd.

  • A lack of investment in “retaining key employees, motivating all team members and instigating a planned transfer of skills to a new generation of employees”, had put the business in a perilous position.
  • The case study outlines how Aerzen were able to turn around their problems by investing more in the development of their employees.

From these examples you can see the real benefits of encouraging your employees to develop themselves.  You can also see from the early days of Aerzen, what can happen if you do not encourage employee development.

Related: Personal Responsibility For Our Professional Conduct

What is the situation like where you work? How is Personal Development encouraged?  If you are self-employed, do you take the time to ensure your own development?  Let us know via the comments.

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Image: “personal development concept – white chalk drawing on a blackboard/Shutterstock



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The Author:

I live in Kilkenny, Ireland, and I'm married with one daughter. I was born in Derry, and came to Kilkenny via Manchester, England, and Dublin. My passion is all things Social Media, and for the last 2 years I have been working as a Social Media Evangelist for Oracle, where I have worked for the last 8 years. This role entails, promoting the use of Social Media internally for improved communication and collaboration. My other interests include sports, especially football (soccer), reading, video games, movies/tv, music and walking. http://frankbradley.tumblr.com/

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  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Frank, great post! So many businesses pay false homage to the notion that a businesses greatest asset is its people. It’s actually quite disturbing sometimes to see how employees are viewed and of course the reverse is usually the case where the role is badly paid and supported. It pains me to say it but I think most business fail when it comes to many of things that you talk about here and small business in particular can be some of the worst offenders. Important post and subject matter that should get a lot more coverage?

  • Luc at CarrotsNotSticks.com

    Hi Frank, I can only agree with you. In my view the terms ‘self’ and ‘development’ should be seen in the broadest possibly way. I think that the skills & behaviours you develop by joining a chess club, running a marathon, starting a book club, or doing charity work all help in being a better professional. It may sound nonsensical, but it is probably irrelevant what you do, as long as you learn something. It all helps to ‘harpen the axe’. Unfortunately, in my experience, companies have a rather narrow definition of ‘self development’ instead, which tends to lead in the longer term to one-trick-ponies and a fading of creativity in the workplace.

  • Luc at CarrotsNotSticks.com

    *typo* it should say: ‘sharpen the axe’ (not harpen the axe)

  • http://www.encouragingexcellence.ie/ Mairu00e9ad Kelly

    Great post Frank. This is what I do both in my business and personal life, in fact so much so that I deliberately chose my business name to reflect that.nnContinual training and development was considered something you (individually) did in many Irish owned business and wasn’t seriously encouraged. However in the multi-national companies I worked in it was encouraged as standard. Having been out of that environment for quite a few years it would be interesting to see if attitudes have changed any.

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    Hi Frank, nnIu2019d have a slightly different slant on this in that I feel itu2019s oneu2019s own responsibility to reach oneu2019s full potential.nnI’m not sure itu2019s realistic to expect large orgs to understand this as they have other priorities. nnThough I have seen orgs invest in snr mgt as these are perceived as higher value in the overall scheme of things.n

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Great point Ivan and you are right of course, at the end of the day its up to the individual. In saying that, I’ve heard senior mangers in companies claim that training is not worth it because it only really ends up benefiting the opposition. Their logic, invest in training someone and they jump ship to a competitor. I mean come on! It never dawns on them that it might be more to do with how much employees feel valued or in this case undervalued by the organisation. There is a direct link between education and productivity so it’s not just a case of doing the right thing, it’s also a case of doing the smart thing for the biz surely?

  • http://www.encouragingexcellence.ie/ Mairu00e9ad Kelly

    I agree Ivan, that it is very much up to the individaul, my point was it was encouraged by multi-nationals here and not by Irish owned businesses – some businesses even blocked you taking holidays to cover sitting exams for some of the reasons Niall stated above, despite you paying for the training yourself. Small-mindedness springs to mind here.

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    u2026more to do with how much employees feel valued or in this case undervalued by the organizationnnI know what you mean and it doesnu2019t have to be a big thing to make someone feel appreciated. nnTom Peters made the point that Snr Managers should make a decent effort to remember their staffu2019s names (within reason) which I know sounds obvious but I’ve seen companies where folks were addressed in the most horrid and dismissive waysu2026 and then sent to productivity workshops (often at great expense). They just donu2019t get it!

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    u2026more to do with how much employees feel valued or in this case undervalued by the organizationnnI know what you mean and it doesnu2019t have to be a big thing to make someone feel appreciated. nnTom Peters made the point that Snr Managers should make a decent effort to remember their staffu2019s names (within reason) which I know sounds obvious but I’ve seen companies where folks were addressed in the most horrid and dismissive waysu2026 and then sent to productivity workshops (often at great expense). They just donu2019t get it!

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    Hi Mairead, nnYes, I’ve seen this and the end result is that the best/motivated employees will move on. nnAll that will remain is those stuck in the job and/or so demotivated that they just go thru the motions. nnAnd thatu2019s fine if you have no competition, but if you haveu2026nn

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    Hi Mairead, nnYes, I’ve seen this and the end result is that the best/motivated employees will move on. nnAll that will remain is those stuck in the job and/or so demotivated that they just go thru the motions. nnAnd thatu2019s fine if you have no competition, but if you haveu2026nn

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    Hi Mairead, nnYes, I’ve seen this and the end result is that the best/motivated employees will move on. nnAll that will remain is those stuck in the job and/or so demotivated that they just go thru the motions. nnAnd thatu2019s fine if you have no competition, but if you haveu2026nn

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for all the comments. My experience has been that while large organisations do put in place structures to support development, as with most things it is not seen as a priority. You have to be lucky to have a good manager who will take the time to reciprocate your own interest.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment Mairead. I think it really depends on the organisation. As I’ve said in my previous comment the structures are in place but having an interested manager is also key.

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie Sian Phillips

    Thanks for the comment Niall. I gave Hootsuite a go a while ago but much preferred Tweetdeck. And with Twitter buying Tweetdeck this week I’m sure it will be incorporating more features soon :)

  • Anonymous

    A great post Sian, I removed Tweetdeck some time ago as something had gone wrong with it on my laptop and tried Hootsuite for a while as others find it good but re-installed Tweetdeck some weeks ago and love love love it. it is my far my favourite and they have added so many new features which you have covered here – I really recommend it to all twitter users. I wonder will it change much now that Twitter own it??

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie Sian Phillips

    Thanks Lorna – glad you’ve come back to the Tweetdeck fold :) u00a0I found a couple of features that I wasn’t aware about before doing this post too. It will be interesting to see what develops now Twitter have bought it – watch this space….

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie Sian Phillips

    Thanks Miriam. I’m glad I could be of some help. We must have a chat about Facebook soon :)

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    A great Resource _Sian ;)nI used to use tweetdeck and agree it is great to follow conversations and specific people. Most APIs now are getting more intuitive, and I am sure by the end of the year there will be 2-3 main players battling it out.nnMay have to consider a return to Tweetdeck after reading this post ;)

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie Sian Phillips

    Thanks for the comment Elaine. I have a feeling Tweetdeck is only going to get better now that Twitter have bought it.

  • Anonymous

    I’m the same as Niall in that I moved over to Hootsuite some time ago. I think i’ll have to give TweetDeck a go again.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Fred. I found it interesting that responses to this post weren’t as forthcoming as usual. Do you think I touched a raw nerve or something? It seems to me that among all the enthusiasm for SM, even many professionals are still not sure in themselves about the absolute benefits.

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Lewis, I agree with you that social media ROI is bandied about, without any real discovery as to what it means. For me, I have tou00a0translate it into real terms: new clients, increaseu00a0in sales, increase in marketing or customer serviceu00a0efficiency etc etc. Only then, I can possibly start to think of ways to integrate and use social media. So yes while I agree that deciding what you want is a key, I also think that business in particular also need to be able to describe what they want and that’s where most areu00a0currently falling down in my opinion. Interesting stuff! :)

  • http://www.sustainablebusinessgrowth.biz Mike Ainsworth

    I liked this – very thought provoking indeed. If there are less comments than usual then I suspect it’s because you’ve touched quite a few raw nerves.nn”In business, we maybe need to dig deeper, beneath the shiny, transient nsurface and focus on the real reasons why we have a business and what wen want it to deliver, in human terms.” – sums it up for me.

  • Anonymous

    Quite so, Niall. nThanks. Always good to get your take on these things.n:0)

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    Hi Lewis, nnEnergetic, reflective and philosophical post indeed! I agree. We do need to slow down and take a step back. The internet is full of noise and its difficult to switch off from it – it sweeps you up and catapults you through in a sea of information, so quick, that if you blink, you’ll miss something exceptional. We need to apply modern media to core concepts. technology may change, but do people?

  • http://twitter.com/davidc_smith David C. Smith

    Hey Lewis, great article with several thought provoking points; ROI, budgets, decisions, focus, purpose.nnOne thought I don’t exactly agree with is relating past ROI analysis to present ROI analysis.u00a0 We can’t justify not doing something now by claiming we didn’t do something then. “I donu2019t remember such an aggressive focus on the justification of ROI in years gone by, …..”.u00a0u00a0 I guess my perspective is the opposite because ROI has always been a consideration and I am usually stunned by a guru (of one flavor or another) trying to convince me that investing (time, money, effort) into something/anything without considering a return makes perfect sense. nnThe point is that there needs to be a measure (ROI is simply an measure) in order to (a) make decisions between alternatives and (b) refine and improve.u00a0 ROI may be “dead” to some, but to others it’s alive and doing well.

  • Anonymous

    Hi David, and thanks for your observations. I’m actually with you all the way on what you are saying. ROI is very important, I suppose I am suggesting that the ways to measure it in terms of social media are still in there infancy and subject to lots of doubt and scrutiny. This change we are going through is huge, and the ground rules are still being developed. Hopefully, those gurus you talk about are a dying breed…

  • Anonymous

    That’s a big question. In essence, I think we are still stone-age. The difference that we have achieved is what we have learned. Now we are being challenged on how we learn. It’s the intangibles that are going to be most important as we move forward, I believe.

  • Facundo

    I would like to make an observation in terms of people generalising the need for ROI, which I think it is where Lewis is going with the feeling of not remembering such an aggressive focus (feeling I share):nnOne thing is focusing on analysing the ROI of specific actions (such as a campaign) and another is trying to attach ROI to the basic effort of “being” in social media as such. nn-The former, as you say Lewis, is evolving but probably is still in its infancy and we’ll get to a stage where we will measure specific actions better. n-The latter, however, I am not sure if it should be pursued as such, since we are talking about communications tools in general. It is a new phone, a way to communicate and there is no ROI in that, when it becomes a must. Some industries can get away with avoiding social media, which I can understand, but if your audience adopt the tools, you must be there in order to communicate, and that is a basic step with no ROI whatsoever. It’s merely catching up with what is going on and your competitors. It is like confusing the probably inexistent ROI of merely having a phone & training your staff on adequate phone etiquette with the ROI of a cold-calling campaign which is a measurable endeavour run on a platform called telephone. n

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    Hi Lewis, great post.n “…tunnel vision of machine-generated algorithmic u2018opinionsu2019, delivering nnothing but thinly-veiled commercially-pinpointed sales channels.” This was a fear I had about the future of the web, and because, as you say, things are moving so fast, we seem to have stepped back and allowed the internet define our usage, as in how we use the web, and how we access/receive information.nThe bandwidth alone says it all – for example, one service in Irelandu00a0 “8MB download, 512B upload”nnWe must remember that it will all eventually settle down, we as humans always get excited about change and development, so after a while we will be wondering what all the fuss is about.nnIn terms of ROI, perhaps the term we should be using for the new internet (SM and SN) is ROE – “Return on effort” as a ROI is so hard to establish, and as Facundo mentions below there are other reasons to be online, such as learning more about your industry or the competition etc.nngreat thought provoking post – better to be a thought provoker than merely a thought leader :)

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    Hi Lewis, great post.n “…tunnel vision of machine-generated algorithmic u2018opinionsu2019, delivering nnothing but thinly-veiled commercially-pinpointed sales channels.” This was a fear I had about the future of the web, and because, as you say, things are moving so fast, we seem to have stepped back and allowed the internet define our usage, as in how we use the web, and how we access/receive information.nThe bandwidth alone says it all – for example, one service in Irelandu00a0 “8MB download, 512B upload”nnWe must remember that it will all eventually settle down, we as humans always get excited about change and development, so after a while we will be wondering what all the fuss is about.nnIn terms of ROI, perhaps the term we should be using for the new internet (SM and SN) is ROE – “Return on effort” as a ROI is so hard to establish, and as Facundo mentions below there are other reasons to be online, such as learning more about your industry or the competition etc.nngreat thought provoking post – better to be a thought provoker than merely a thought leader :)

  • http://twitter.com/ThomasODuffy Thomas O’Duffy

    Digital and social media has changed our culture, the way individuals and groups communicate, and the information they input prior to making decisions. u00a0nnPeople who struggle to quantify an ROI based upon specific digital / social actions need to recognise they are now marketing to “collective intelligence & awareness”; a large group of highly communicative folk who increasingly share wisdom with each other. u00a0 The difficult most people have in grasping such complexities makes it difficult to calculate ROI.nnIf you try to influence a group who is smarter than you, you’re most likely to succeed if you have their best interests at heart, and you’re highly aware of their needs, and you’re sincere in your communications, such that if you lead them (or their buying behaviour) and they follow, they look back gladly. u00a0In this regard, social media is most suited to making great products and services more visible.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Elaine. Some very interesting points you make here. I’m not sure I have the faith you have in it settling down though. We’ll see, I guess…