Why should you focus on personal development in your workplace? Simply, it is essential for making the most of the opportunity your workplace gives you now and in the future. We’ll explain, in four simple steps, how to take charge of the future of your workplace.

Personal development in the workplace offers a range of benefits for your business and your employees. Not only will it help to reduce staff turnover, but it will also help to keep your employees motivated, satisfied and improve profitability.

First up, let’s look at the basics.

What is Personal Development in the Workplace?

Personal development in the workplace is a continuous process of learning, growing, and improving one’s skills and capabilities. It’s about enhancing your abilities not only to benefit your current role but also to prepare for future opportunities and challenges.

Personal development is also grounded in supporting your employees to meet their professional goals. This can include:

Personal development in the workplace featured image
  • Learning new skills,
  • Working towards a promotion,
  • Taking on new responsibilities,
  • Moving into an entirely new role.

The tricky thing here is matching your employee’s professional goals with where your business is going. For example, if your employee wants to learn a new skill that won’t benefit your business, there’s not much point in including this in their personal development plan.

Why is Personal Development at Work Important?

We spend a lot of time at our workplace, so personal development in this environment is very important. By recognising specific areas for growth and improvement, we can enhance both our personal and professional lives, access better opportunities and feel more confident overall in our capabilities and skills.

Check out some reasons why personal development at work is important below.

Improved Performance: By continuously improving your skills and knowledge, you’re better equipped to handle your job responsibilities. This can lead to improved job performance and greater productivity.

Career Advancement: When you focus on personal development, you’re more likely to be considered for promotions or other career advancement opportunities. Employers value employees who are motivated to learn and grow.

Increased Job Satisfaction: Learning new skills and overcoming challenges can lead to greater job satisfaction. You’re likely to feel more engaged and motivated when you’re continuously learning and growing.

Adaptability: In today’s fast-paced workplace, change is constant. Personal development can help you adapt to these changes, learn new technologies, and stay current in your field.

Leadership Development: Personal development can also include developing leadership skills, such as communication, decision-making, and team management. These skills are valuable for anyone looking to move into a leadership role.

Setting Personal Development Goals For Work

Setting personal development goals at work is essential for professional growth and job satisfaction, but you may be wondering where to start in defining your objectives. Here’s a guide on how to get started with setting personal development goals at work.

Understand Your Job Role

The first step is understanding your job description thoroughly. Identify the key skills required for your job, your responsibilities, and your expected deliverables. Imagine if you were to train someone who is taking your role, what would you show them and how would you show them to do it?

Identify Areas for Improvement

Reflect on your performance at work. What are your strengths, and in what areas could you improve? This could include technical skills, soft skills like communication or leadership, or industry-specific knowledge. If you find a part of your role challenging, it’s probably a good idea to include it as a goal in your personal development plan.

Gather Feedback

Seek feedback from your superiors, managers, colleagues, and subordinates if applicable. This feedback can provide valuable insights into areas you might need to focus on. It’s also a good way of evaluating how others value your performance, recognising areas your thriving in or areas that may need more attention.

Align with Career Aspirations

Consider where you want to be in your career in the future, what are your long-term aspirations and how will you use short-term goals to get there? What skills or qualifications will you need to achieve that position? Set goals that align with your career aspirations and set you up for future success.

Seek Support

Share your development goals with your supervisor. They can provide you with the necessary support, resources, and feedback to achieve your goals and put your personal development plan into motion. This will also help you develop goals that align with business objectives, helping you carve out a place for your future.

Look for Role Models

Another great way of developing personal development goals is to look up to role models that you aspire to be like. This can be someone you know who is currently in a position that you wish to achieve, or it can be a like-minded business individual that you admire. If it’s the latter, then business podcasts are a great resource to listen to these role models and discover new ones.


Once you’ve agreed on a goal, it’s time to put an action plan in place to achieve it. The best way to do this is by using the SMART framework. SMART is an acronym used to guide goal setting, and it stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Each term has a specific purpose in the goal-setting process.

This means that goals for personal development in your workplace should be:

  1. Specific,
  2. Measurable,
  3. Achievable,
  4. Relevant,
  5. Timely.
Personal development in the workplace smart goals
The SMART framework helps you to achieve your goals. Image credit: NHS


Your goal should be clear and well-defined. Vague goals are less likely to be achieved. A specific goal answers the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” of what you want to achieve. For example, instead of saying “I want to get fit,” a specific goal would be “I want to run a half marathon.”


Goals should be measurable so that you have tangible evidence that you’ve accomplished the goal. How many/much? How do I know when it’s accomplished? For the fitness goal, it could be “I want to run a half marathon in under 2 hours.”


Goals should be achievable and realistic in order to be successful. In other words, they should stretch your abilities but still remain possible to obtain. When you set an achievable goal, you may identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources.


A relevant goal means that it aligns with your broader objectives. If you’re trying to improve your overall fitness, running a half marathon could be a good goal. But if your aim is to improve upper body strength, then this may not be the most relevant goal.


Goals should also have a timeline attached to them, this ensures a sense of commitment to getting where you want to be. Deadlines create a sense of urgency and prompt action. A time-bound goal for running a half marathon might be “I want to run a half marathon in under 2 hours, six months from now.”

Once you have a clear picture of this, it’s time to start creating a plan and putting it into place, along with a review process to ensure your goals are achieved. Research also suggests that you’re more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Make sure to include what steps you need to take to and revisit them often.

Personal Development in Your Workplace Step 1: Create a Personal Development Plan

A personal development plan is a blueprint for helping you stay motivated to advance your career. It is an effective approach for self-reflection and goal-setting. It helps you realize your areas of strength and weaknesses and as such, you will be able to set objectives on what to improve on and take steps to achieve the desired change.

Your personal development plan should include specific ideas tied to both short-term and long-term goals.

Top ideas for a personal development plan include studying knowledge-specific certifications, learning leadership skills, and networking with influencers in your profession. Also, it should entail steps to overcome obstacles to the advancement of your profession. For instance, if you have a strained relationship with your boss, it is critical to mend it.

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Personal Development Plan Template

Drafting your personal development plan should be followed by a scoreboard to help you track your progress. You can use a personal development plan template to create specific and measurable goals. Having the means to measure your progress will keep you motivated and help you adapt to personal development goals.

Setting realistic and time-bound goals will set you up for success since they’re measurable and relevant to your career. Let go of any far-fetched ideas from your plan and only keep measurable goals.

A standard personal development plan example might include the following objectives:

  • Networking with professionals from other companies within your field of specialization
  • Joining a support group for professionals
  • Pursuing certification courses for specific skills in your profession.

Whatever the specific details of your personal development plan are, you can frame them in a plan to help you take action and reach your objectives. Check out this example of a personal development plan for work purposes below.

1. Personal Details

  • Full Name:
  • Position:
  • Department:
  • Date:

2. Professional Skills Self-Assessment

  • Current Skills:
  • Skills to Develop:

3. Career Objectives

  • Short-term (e.g., 1 year):
  • Mid-term (e.g., 3-5 years):
  • Long-term (e.g., 10 years):

4. SMART Professional Development Goals

  • Goal 1:
  • Goal 2:
  • Goal 3:

5. Action Plan For each goal, define the following:

  • Specific Actions: What actions will you take to achieve this goal?
  • Required Resources: What resources or support will you need (e.g., training, mentorship)?
  • Timeline: When do you hope to achieve this goal by?
  • Measures of Success: How will you know when you’ve achieved this goal?

6. Potential Obstacles and Solutions

  • Potential Obstacle 1:
  • Solution 1:
  • Potential Obstacle 2:
  • Solution 2:

7. Continuous Learning Opportunities

  • Books:
  • Courses:
  • Seminars:
  • Workshops:

8. Review and Adjust

  • Review Date:
  • Progress:
  • Necessary Adjustments:

Creating a personal development plan for work and revisiting it regularly can keep you focused on your career goals, motivate you to learn, and increase your resilience in the face of change or adversity. It also promotes life-long learning and demonstrates your commitment to personal and professional development objectives.

Personal Development Plan Example

Whilst we have provided a load of information for personal development in your workplace, sometimes an example is all you need to visualise how you can do it. Check out this example below.

Objective: I am a Junior IT Administrator and I want to become a coding expert in the future.

1. Personal Details

  • Full Name: Joe Bloggs
  • Current Position: Junior IT Administrator
  • Career Goal: Coding Expert
  • Date: Today

2. Self-Assessment

  • Current Skills: Network management, hardware and software troubleshooting, customer service.
  • Skills to Develop: Coding in various languages, project management, and algorithm understanding.

3. Long-Term Professional Goals

  • Becoming a proficient coder in languages relevant to my desired career path (e.g., Python, JavaScript, C++, etc.) within 3 years.
  • Gaining certification in my chosen coding languages within 4 years.
  • Securing a position that involves significant coding tasks within 5 years.

4. Short-Term Professional Goals

  • Enrol in a coding boot camp or relevant courses within the next six months.
  • Complete an introductory course for each desired coding language within 1 year.
  • Begin practising coding daily within the next three months.

5. Action Plan For each goal, define the following:

Goal 1: Enroll in a coding boot camp or relevant courses

  • Specific Actions: Research available boot camps or courses, compare content, prices, and reviews, select the most suitable, and enrol.
  • Required Resources: Time to research, tuition fee, and a computer.
  • Timeline: Start researching immediately and enrol within the next six months.
  • Measures of Success: Successfully enrolled and actively participating in courses.

Goal 2: Complete introductory courses for each coding language

  • Specific Actions: Actively participate in each course, complete all coursework and tests, seek extra help if needed.
  • Required Resources: Course materials, computer, and time for study.
  • Timeline: Complete all introductory courses within 1 year.
  • Measures of Success: Passing grades in all courses, and ability to use basic coding language syntax and structures.

Goal 3: Practice coding daily

  • Specific Actions: Set aside dedicated time each day for coding practice, use online platforms for practice.
  • Required Resources: Computer, coding software, practice problems.
  • Timeline: Start immediately after the completion of the first coding course, maintain daily practice.
  • Measures of Success: Improvement in coding skills, quicker problem-solving, building more complex code structures.

6. Review and Adjust

  • Review Date: Bi-monthly
  • Progress: Track progress during each review
  • Necessary Adjustments: Will be determined based on progress and any changes in professional circumstances or goals.

Remember, this is a flexible plan. Adjust as needed based on your progress, changes in your goals, or shifts in the field of coding. Keep learning, stay curious, and embrace challenges during your personal development in your workplace.

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Personal Development in Your Workplace Step 2: Improve Your Time Management Skills

Deadlines are a standard feature in work projects. For you to succeed in your career, you need to be adept at time management. If you are late on delivering orders or completing tasks that demand your attention, you can improve on this by focusing on your ability to manage your time. Doing so will result in a paradigm shift in which you’ll no longer perceive your responsibilities as strenuous, but an orderly sequence of tasks.

The first step to improving your ability to manage time is by ensuring conscious attention to your work. Staying alert and in synchronicity with your duties will make you a better planner. You will also have better organisation skills that will help you schedule your tasks according, focusing on the top priority tasks and having the discipline to execute them without entertaining any interruptions.

Personal development in the workplace time management skills stats
Time management is one of the most commonly lacking skills in the workplace. Image credit: PredictiveIndex

Track Time-Wasting habits

Track the habits that lead to the loss of productivity such as browsing social media sites and restrict them to your free time. For example, you can schedule them for lunch and tea breaks. As a result, you’ll be efficient in managing the time you spend on social media and allow the rest of it to your core tasks.

By sticking to consistent practice, you can set a schedule and assign different hours to various tasks, striving to fulfil them within those hours. Practice this until it becomes second nature to you.

Time Managing Apps

There are many apps designed to help you manage your time more efficiently. Here are a few of them:

  1. Todoist: Todoist is a task management app that lets you create and manage tasks and projects, assign due dates, and even delegate tasks to others if you’re working in a team. It’s available on all major platforms.
  2. Trello: Trello uses boards, lists, and cards to help you organize and prioritize your projects in a fun, flexible, and rewarding way. It’s ideal for managing both personal and work tasks.
  3. Asana: This is a project management tool that helps teams organize and manage tasks and projects. It’s useful for individuals as well, allowing you to map out steps, track progress, and manage deadlines.
  4. Evernote: Evernote is more than just a note-taking app. It allows you to clip web articles, capture handwritten notes, and snap photos to keep the physical and digital details of your projects with you at all times.
  5. RescueTime: RescueTime tracks the time you spend on applications and websites, giving you an accurate picture of your day. It helps you understand your daily habits so you can focus and be more productive.
  6. Google Calendar: Google Calendar is a great tool for scheduling and receiving reminders about upcoming activities. It’s also useful for time blocking, a productivity technique where you dedicate specific hours of your day to certain tasks or activities.
  7. Forest: Forest is a unique app that encourages focus by growing a virtual tree, which dies if you exit the app. It’s an excellent tool for those who are easily distracted by their phones.
  8. Microsoft To Do: This is a simple and intelligent to-do list that makes it easy to plan your day. Whether it’s for work, school or home, To Do will help you increase your productivity and decrease your stress levels.

Remember, the effectiveness of these tools can often depend on your individual needs and work style. It’s worth trying out a few to see which ones work best for you.

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Personal Development in Your Workplace Step 3: Work on Your Social Skills

Social skills are not just for social gatherings. If you don’t have healthy relations with your workmates, it can be hard to deliver on your work and communicate with your team. Teamwork is only possible when you foster good work relations with your colleagues. Once you are aware of the synergy between you and your co-workers, you’ll benefit from increased performance and a healthier work environment.

You can only contribute to the organization by fulfilling your duties, but developing a team spirit takes you a level higher for all the areas that require collaboration. A team spirit gives you a sense of belonging and a better connection with the workflow of the entire team. This way, you’ll be in a good position to communicate and learn from the rest of your colleagues, bettering your work processes and speed of delivery.

Tips for Social Skills

However, it can be difficult to master this skill, and if you feel like you’re lacking in it, include it as part of your personal development plan in your workplace. check out these tips for working on your social skills.

1. Be approachable: Maintain a friendly demeanour and welcoming body language. Smile and make eye contact during conversations. Be open and receptive to others, and they will be more likely to engage with you.

2. Initiate conversations: Don’t wait for others to always start the conversation. Take the initiative to start chatting, ask questions, or propose a topic of conversation. This could be work-related or about common interests.

3. Take part in social activities: Join in on team lunches, after-work outings, or any other social events your company organizes. These are great opportunities to interact with colleagues in a more relaxed setting.

4. Show genuine interest in others: Ask your coworkers about their weekends, families, or hobbies. Be sure to listen actively when they speak, showing empathy and interest.

5. Be helpful: If you see a colleague struggling with a task you’re good at, offer to help. This not only establishes you as a team player but also provides an opportunity to interact more closely with your coworkers.

6. Join or start a group: This could be a workplace book club, running group, volunteering team, or any other interest-based group. Shared activities are a great way to foster relationships.

7. Be respectful of others: Everyone has their own working style and social comfort levels. Respect personal boundaries and understand that not everyone might be as sociable as others.

8. Communicate effectively: Clear, open, and respectful communication is key. This includes expressing your own ideas clearly, listening actively, and providing constructive feedback.

9. Develop good work habits: Being reliable, punctual, and dedicated to your work also influences how sociable people perceive you. Good work ethics can earn you respect and more positive interactions.

Remember, being more sociable doesn’t mean you have to drastically change who you are. Start with small steps, and over time, these interactions will become more natural. It’s about building relationships and fostering a positive work environment.

Personal Development in Your Workplace Step 4: Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence can become a major goal for your personal development in your workplace. Your ability to understand emotions and manage them properly is a powerful skill. Emotional intelligence is the power to understand and handle both your own emotions and other people’s.

It can also help you to process other people’s motivations and action patterns better. In a workplace context, you’ll be able to improve on collaboration efforts, express yourself better and respond to the demands of your relations with clients and co-workers better.

Observe your Own Emotions

The most powerful way to enhance your emotional intelligence is through observing your behaviour patterns and reactions to interactions with others. Look out for what angers you, inspires, or stresses you. Research what motivates other people, what relieves their stress and inspires them to work better.

The result will be a clear and unbiased perspective on communication and an enhanced work approach. It will also result in better listening skills, which is a huge boost, especially in personal development. You’ll also become a better team player and establish healthier work-relations in both the short term and long term.

Personal development in your workplace emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is highly tied up with job performance. Image credit: Ytimg.com

Personal Development Books

There is a range of books available to help you in facilitating personal development in your workplace. They can provide valuable insights, advice, and techniques to help you grow both personally and professionally. Here are some widely acclaimed titles in this genre:

  1. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill: This classic book explores the psychological power of thought and the brain in the process of furthering your career for both monetary and personal satisfaction.
  2. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie: Carnegie’s timeless bestseller provides valuable lessons in social interactions and mastering relationships.
  3. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey: Covey’s book is a guide to becoming more productive and efficient by embracing seven habits that can make a person more effective personally and professionally.
  4. “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck: Psychologist Carol Dweck explores the concept of “mindset” and discusses how our beliefs about our abilities can impact our success.
  5. “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl: Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival.
  6. “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman: Goleman’s book argues that our emotions play a much greater role in thought, decision making and individual success than is commonly acknowledged.
  7. “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle: This guide to spiritual enlightenment discusses the concept of mindfulness and the benefits of living in the present moment.
  8. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear: Clear provides practical strategies for forming good habits, breaking bad ones, and mastering the tiny behaviours that lead to remarkable results.

Remember, personal development is a lifelong journey. The right book can provide guidance and inspiration, but real growth happens when you apply what you’ve learned to your own life.

To take your personal development to the next level, consider enrolling in corporate behavioral training courses or team workshops focused on emotional intelligence, communication, collaboration and conflict resolution. These interactive sessions can provide powerful insights into your own working style and give you tangible strategies to build stronger connections with colleagues.

Also, expand your learning beyond traditional technical skills. Develop creative thinking by taking an art or design course. Improve critical thinking by learning about cognitive biases. Foster systems thinking by studying relevant concepts like design theory. The more multidimensional your skills, the more value you can add. Look for unique development opportunities like job shadowing, stretch assignments and secondments to broaden your experience.

Become a lifelong learner who views every interaction as a chance to grow. With an insatiable curiosity, hunger for self-improvement and commitment to implementing changes, you have immense growth potential. Your personal development journey can be an adventure full of discoveries – enjoy the ride!

Personal development in the workplace is an ongoing process that requires self-reflection, goal-setting, and taking action. Whilst focusing on skills and knowledge is important, also consider your broader personal growth by working on qualities like self-awareness, resilience, empathy and integrity.

Seek feedback from trusted colleagues to gain insights into strengthening your weak areas. Be patient with yourself and celebrate small wins along the way. Upskill yourself not just for your own career progression but also to future-proof your role within the organisation. Approach your manager to collaborate on aligning your development plan with wider business objectives.

Personal growth takes time and consistency, so stay motivated by focusing on your ‘why’. With an open and growth mindset, personal development can be an enriching journey.

Personal Development in Your Workplace: Time For Change

Although personal development is a long-term process, any professional who has undertaken the journey first begins by answering the question, what is a personal development plan? And if you have made it this far, then you probably now know what you need to do and how to get there – that’s the hardest part done!

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