People development basics

Get the most out of people. Attract, retain and develop top talent. Give people the ability to identify what’s holding them back, and help them address those issues regularly and methodically.

Test yourself Copy to your organization

Skills contained in this skillset:

I understand what is meant by people development

People development is the process by which an organization equips employees with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes they need to reach business goals. 

I understand the primary motivations for investing in people development

The primary motivations for investing in the development of people is to

  • Get the most out of people. In the context of an organization, this means that a person is empowered to provide the best possible contribution to the organizational vision and objectives.
  • Make it more attractive to be a part of the organization. Studies show that whereas only 8% of people attribute their job change to a higher salery, 30% attribute their job change to a lack of professional and personal development.
I know the most common justifications given by leaders for why they don't prioritize the development of their people
  • Priority: I don't have the time
    • I am concerned it will take up too much of my time
    • I haven't gotten around to it yet
  • Know-how: I don't know how to do it/where to start
  • Value: I don't think it's neccessary
    • People automatically improve over time, right?
    • It's people's own responsibility to improve themselves, right?
    • The stuff people have mentioned they want to improve in seems unrelated to improving their contribution to the organization
  • Fair of failure: I don't know how to make it a part of my day-to-day routine (ensuring that it actually gets done)
  • Accountability: No one expects it of me/holds me accountable to it
I am familiar with common concepts and terms relevant for developing people 9 sub skills

Different types of skills are commonly separated into two main categories: hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills

Hard skills (sometimes also referred to as technical skills) are skills which allow you to understand and complete technical tasks.

Examples of hard skills include:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • User interface design
  • Programming

Soft skills

Soft skills are skills which allow you to function and work well, both on your own and in collaboration with others. Soft skills inform how we behave and treat both ourselves and others.

Examples of soft skills include:

  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Willingness to learn

Soft skills can be broken down into skills which affect how you treat others (also referred to as people or social skills) and skills which affect how you treat yourself (also referred to as self-management, self care or self love skills).

The War for Talent refers to the increasing competition between recruiters in the search for 'top talent' – a term given to highly skilled, educated or otherwise desirable workers who will aid to the future success of a company.

The Pygmalion effect is the theory that people will rise or fall based on the expectations that authority figures have of them – and has been proven in settings ranging from classrooms to corporations.

All leaders have tremendous power simply by being in a position of authority, and can use their words to influence how others view themselves. The act of expressing belief in your employees and focusing on setting high, but achievable standards for them has real repercussions.

Deliberately Developmental Organizations (DDO) are organizations that are committed to developing every one of their people by weaving personal growth into daily work.

Think of a DDO as an incubator for people’s development.

From My experience with a Deliberately Developmental Organization:

DDOs share some traits with the Management 3.0 approach, such as an emphasis on company culture, personal growth, self-organization and transparency. But the resemblance stops there. Management 3.0 aims to create happiness and self-realization in the workplace. DDOs aim to make a badass out of you, going further and faster than you thought possible.

Read more about companies who have adopted a DDO mindset in the Harvard Business Review article Making Business Personal.

"In a growth culture, people build their capacity to see through blind spots; acknowledge insecurities and shortcomings rather than unconsciously acting them out; and spend less energy defending their personal value so they have more energy available to create external value. How people feel — and make other people feel — becomes as important as how much they know.


By contrast, a performance-driven culture often exacerbates people’s fears by creating up a zero-sum game in which people are either succeeding or failing and “winners” quickly get weeded out from “losers.” "

People analytics is defined as the deeply data-driven and goal-focused method of studying all people processes, functions, challenges, and opportunities at work to elevate these systems and achieve sustainable business success.

People analytics is often referred to as talent analytics or HR analytics.

A skills taxonomy is a structured list of skills defined at the organization level that identifies the capabilities of a business in a quantifiable way.

Essentially, it is a system that classifies skills within an organization into groups and clusters. Having a skills taxonomy for your organization creates a unified understanding and language that can be used to deliver effective workforce strategies and drive operational efficiency. It is at the heart of a skills-based approach.

Explore the concept of a skills taxonomy

A skills inventory is a comprehensive list of all the experiences, professional skills, and educational qualifications of employees in an organization.

Explore the concept of skills inventory

I can help people develop themselves 4 sub skills

In order to get the best out of someone, you need to know:

  • What you want from them (the roles they are expected to hold and the goals they are expected to contribute to)
  • The ambitions you have for them, and the ambitions they have for themselves
  • What's holding them back

Examples of things that might be holding people back include:

  • Skills or competence they lack (or do not feel sufficiently comfortable with)
  • Expectations with which they are insufficiently familiar
  • Expectations which they find unclear
  • Fears, weaknesses, insecurities or opinons keeping people from improving their level of mastery or adjusting their behaviour

There’s a natural tendency for us to gravitate toward what we’re good at doing. Then we get stuck there because we’ve gotten comfortable.

This kind of stasis can be too much of a good thing and inhibit growth. Good leaders push people to try things they have potential for and give them the opportunity to take a risk. They actively look for ways their employees can practice the exact thing they need to do, but might be uncomfortable trying.

Roles benefiting from this skillset

Team leader

Management Organizational development Leadership stage Team management Organizational health

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Executive Leadership stage

Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)


Training and development manager

Insight management People development Organizational development Organizational health