Management January 18, 2011 Last updated October 14th, 2018 6,004 Reads share

Encouraging Continuous Self Development Among Employees

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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

Frank Bradley

Frank Bradley

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