Self-development – a win for both learners and organisation – part 2

In the second of two articles, Sarah Cook and Steve Macaulay introduce some practical ideas to establish personal development in organisations with some examples of leaders in the field

The first article proposed the case for strengthening self-development as a means to bring about organisational change in a dynamic setting, where individuals must be a strong driver and contributor to that change. This second article looks at what L&D needs to do to achieve that.

HR and L&D strategies for self and career development

The broad aim of introducing these strategies is to help individuals become much more active in their own development. This involves increasing personal self-awareness and understanding influences such as career choices to date, personality, values and preferences. This translates into an understanding of the sort of tools and techniques required for self and career development, for example the ability to set well-founded career goals and putting together a realistic career plan.

Examples of career development programmes

Short coaching and L&D interventions can help to build up people’s expertise in the area of their own development. To kick off an introduction to personal and career development, the following are typical areas covered. This can be achieved through a series of short two-to-three-hour interventions, or sometimes as a one or two-day day workshop.

You can and should make career choices for yourself, often where appropriate in partnership with the organisation. HR and L&D are the essential links to achieve this

Session 1

  • Introduction to the concept of managing your own career and the need to do so.
  • Self-assessment of career path to date.
  • Career path choices and aspirations.

Session 2

  • Getting to know yourself in more detail. A series of exercises which cover personal values, personal interests, skills, and personality.
  • The range of tools and techniques which can be used in self-development and assist in the process of making important decisions concerning careers.

Session 3

  • Putting together realistic career goals, developing a plan of action and then monitoring and evaluating progress.

Session 4

  • Networking, its importance in building up support and contacts.
  • Personal resilience in the face of adverse conditions.

Organisations which promote self-development

Organisational practice varies considerably from organisation to organisation. Below are some organisations who have put emphasis on self-development. The examples tend to cluster in the areas of tech companies and consultancies, but they have spread widely beyond these.


Amazon offers transferable knowledge and skill development with certification in areas such as cloud computing and AI.


The consultancy emphasises and encourages career development and taking ownership of that development. It offers an “opportunity to develop your career in a way that suits you”. It boasts “ongoing development far beyond initial qualification”. As an example, it runs career development planning workshops.


It supports the belief that initiative and learning go together and that an overly centralised approach can stifle innovation and learning. Examples include its Career Guru programme which is backed up with one-to-one coaching. Google encourages personal initiative by letting people spend a proportion of their time on projects of their own choosing.


LinkedIn offers a wide range of learning programmes supported by mentoring and coaching which develop new skills and advance people skills.


The consultancy sees career management as a deal – the individual contributes time and effort, including personal responsibility for career management, and in return PwC offers expertise, tools and supportive teams. For example, it runs Career Conversation workshops to prepare people for career discussions with their manager.


Greater individual and personal development is a sound pathway for career development which is in tune with the way organisations and society are changing. It is based on the belief that you can and should make career choices for yourself, often where appropriate in partnership with the organisation. HR and L&D are the essential links to achieve this.

Such decisions should be based on self-awareness which is supported by well-resourced back-up which should be readily available. This means the individual is making informed career choices and responding positively and contributing to organisational and personal change.  HR and L&D must play their part in strongly and visibly supporting this process.

Sarah Cook is managing director of the Stairway Consultancy and can be contacted here

Steve Macaulay is an associate of Cranfield Executive Development and can be contacted here

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