People Development – Six Steps to Capture Extraordinary Value of People

People development

People are the life force of every organization. Therefore, people development must be an intentional exercise of every organization. It must be a central theme for every leader and in this article, I will argue of every leadership system. If you want your organization to be one of high impact, designing an intentional approach to people development, is a requirement.

How Millennials View People Development

Traditional models of people development focus on the development of professional skills. However, millennials are rejecting the traditional model for several reasons. According to Harvard’s “2018 State of Leadership Development Report” millennials are rejecting traditional models of people development for four reasons:

  1. Consisting of poor content.
  2. Insufficient thinking.
  3. Expertise from outside sources, and
  4. A failure to prove return on investment.

Professional Development? Personal Development? Or Both?

Millennials are different from their boomer parents and grandparents. They want their professional lives to reflect their personal values. Millennials do not work to make a living but then go home to live a different life. They will walk away from an employer if their company if it does not reflect their personal values. Therefore, they are thought to be disloyal, and self-centered.

In addition, millennials strive to maximize their personal value. They fully expect their employers to utilize and develop their strengths. This includes personal strengths as well.

People Development – True Story

I was speaking with a young millennial who is a recruiter for the high-tech industry. He was explaining to me how his firm conducted performance reviews. As he was speaking it was pretty clear that these reviews included personal growth and development. So I asked, “what is the ratio in your conversations between what is personal and what is professional?” His response was “90/10.” In clarification, I asked, “you mean 90% professional?” He looked at me in a state of shock and said no, “90% is personal and 10% is professional.”

Capturing the Full Value of People Development

It is an astonishing reality. People are hired for their technical skills. However, the most valuable part, the part that can problem-solve, innovate, and think creatively is largely underappreciated. These are skills, that every human being has in abundance. By virtual of being human, they walk in with these basic untapped skills.

A True Story

During an interview with an elementary school principal, she spoke of developing the “whole person” of her team. When I confirmed what I was hearing she said, “of course why would I want half a teacher walking in my door?” She understood that the best parts of her team are the parts that walk in the door free of charge. So if she could encourage personal growth and development, her students, their families, and their community would reap the additional value. This was the value that cost her district nothing. This is the same perspective that I found in every high-impact organization I have studied. They are obsessive with value wherever they can find it. Especially In their people. They recognize that people walk in the door every day, with enormous untapped value. They take serious opportunities to develop and nurture this untapped value.

Six Steps to People Development and Extraordinary New Value

Most organizations believe people development is the acquisition of new technical skills. Doctors become better doctors. Nurses become better nurses. Developers become better developers and skilled trades workers learn new trades. However, high-impact organizations are learning something new. If they can also develop workers who are stronger, and more self-confident they create massive new value in their people.

These high-impact organizations are intentional about whole person development. The following six strategies are from the perspective of individual leaders. Which means, of course, that ever leader must know they carry this responsibility.

Six Steps to People Development and Extraordinary New Value

  1. The leader must model personal growth and development

    If the team lead sets the standard and expectation that personal growth and development is a great idea, others will follow along. Consequently, don’t bother talking about real human development, if you as a leader are serious about it yourself.

  2. Develop self-confident people

    Workers that are self-confident are more inclined to contribute their best, to speak up, to contribute to innovation and creativity. This will require eradicating fear in the workplace

  3. Reward risk

    Positive encouragement is the single best way to develop self-confidence in your team. Therefore, when one takes a step into risk, reward them with encouragement.

  4. Mentor and coach rather than teach

    Millennials recognized teaching for what it usually is – a chance for someone to demonstrate their superior knowledge and expertise. Studies show that traditional lecture based teaching has little impact on learning and organizational performance.

  5. Know your team

    The best way to develop your team is to first know who they are. What are their passions? What are their fears? Then give them what they need.

  6. The best way to learn a subject is to teach it

    A manufacturing company of 200 employees has broken every job into five minute teaching modules. The idea is that anyone can learn a part of a job function in five minutes. The next day, they can teach that same five minute increment.

Making People Development Strategic

An exceptional workforce is a pathway to delivering consistent exceptional value to customers. Therefore, people development must be a part of the business strategy. The National Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award is the nation’s highest award for excellence. It is the “gold standard” of all excellence frameworks. One of their key criteria for excellence is, “How does your learning and development system support the organization’s needs and the personal development of your workforce members, managers, and leaders?” One of the important ingredients in organizational excellence is aligning business strategy with the personal development of the workforce. Without this alignment, people development is haphazard and chaotic. However, when people development is aligned to strategy, the delivery of exceptional value is assured.

About the Author

Dan Edds is the author of Leveraging the Genetics of Leadership, cracking the code of sustainable team performance. He is recognized nationally and internationally for his expertise in the design and implementation of leadership systems. He can be reached for comment at, and he is happy to take a personal phone call at (425) 269-8854