In my career as an HR manager, I have encountered two contradictory realities regarding professional development which have inspired me to write the present article:
– Few directors or employees had doubts or failed to support the implementation of individual development plans (IDP) in the framework of a positively valued modern people management style. That is to say, there was, in theory, a good starting point.
– In practice, I have seldom seen well defined development plans based on profound and accurate analyses. And, even more rarely have I seen such plans seriously put into practice, a posteriori, with a relevant impact on individual growth through the co-responsibility of employees and their managers.
This situation led me to look into the reasons that might explain such a paradox. I believe that well oriented professional development is particularly relevant in these times of numerous accelerated changes, where knowledge and skills become more quickly obsolete and it is not at all clear which professions companies will be requiring in the next few years.
To this effect, there is an interesting report on professional obsolescence by the CEDEFOP (The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training) which alerts us as to the potential risks of losing professional competitiveness in Europe in the coming years (See the report: http://ow.ly/cGBK302x1IZ).
A more in-depth analysis of the issue helped me to identify a score of conscious or unconscious barriers to professional development arising from both management and employees (See the table below).
Source: David Reyero
First identifying such barriers and then dealing with them and finding adequate solutions is, in my opinion, a good way to improve the possibilities of success at two levels: a) in the definition of more powerful plans for individual development and b) in terms of good execution to facilitate the desired progress.
Mutual trust and the intention of carefully and profoundly broaching the issue lead to a common starting-point which involves both managers and employees. Without such a climate, which must be previously cultivated and may take time, efficiency will decrease and there will be a risk of creating a development plan just to go through the motions and with no significant impact on personal and professional transformation.
All the barriers to development I have mentioned are important, but I would especially emphasize the lack of self-knowledge and perseverance as a turning point in my experience of managing development plans.
Malcolm Gladwell’s book «Outliers» (http://ow.ly/CvzW302S7JO) examines the lives of outstanding individuals (entrepreneurs, professionals rock and sports stars).
The analysis of their careers shows us two clear key factors as instrumental in their success:
a) A solid base of skills and capabilities which they would rigorously analyze
b) Great dedication to their passion and a healthy ambition to continuously improve, which is what really makes the difference (the rule whereby investing 10,000 hours enables people to become “masters” of any profession).
Professional development is a key aspect in any modern people management strategy aspiring to offer added value to the business and employees.
In this VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) context, companies and professionals taking this issue seriously and putting resources into practice will make a difference.
In the coming years, I would anticipate that we will, unfortunately, be seeing a growing number of obsolete professionals if we do not collectively focus on continuous professional improvement and development combining self-development of the employee (the starting-point of any quality professional development) and the supportiveness of companies.
I would like to conclude with an analogy between the “path of development” and the Camino de Santiago (St. James’s Trail). Both should be journeys of self-discovery, inner reflection, self-improvement, consistency and healthy satisfaction throughout each stage of the journey.
Both can entail certain difficulties due to fatigue, uncertainty, reaching your physical or mental limit or moving away from your comfort zone, but they do tend to bring us happiness in terms of personal and professional betterment.
David Reyero Trapiello – Senior HR Business Partner – Sanofi Iberia
Twitter: @davidreyero73 / Linkedin: es.linkedin.com/in/reyerodavid