By Kyle Goguen, founder and president of Pawstruck.com

High-performers often experience tunnel vision when it comes to their professional development. They long to learn, grow their expertise and climb the ladder in their careers. But something is often overlooked, and that's the importance of implementing personal development as a means of developing professionally. In fact, personal development is essential to the highest levels of professional development.

If leaders and businesses want to see progress toward new levels of success, they need to start treating their employees as people outside of their professions. A Social Market Foundation survey revealed that happy employees are 20% more productive than employees who are unhappy. However, a 2017 Gallup Report revealed that 51% of employees are not engaged at work. It is clear that businesses have to make a change.

One way to increase happiness in the workforce is to invest in personal development, both for leaders and their teams. When leaders invest in the personal development of their employees, they're investing in producing greatness within their companies. Picture a company culture where everyone feels like their best interests matter, where employees know those in leadership care about their dreams, goals, health and overall well-being. When this happens, employees respond by being committed and engaged.

If leaders find themselves frustrated with a lack of interest in professional development, remember that that disinterest is likely coming from employees not having a sense of direction. When people spend time understanding their personal values, needs and strengths, they'll have better focus. Sure, some people may not ever derive personal meaning from their work, but as long as they're fulfilled in their personal lives, they are more likely to see greater focus.

So, how can leaders provide personal development opportunities to their employees? Here are four ways:

1. Encourage self-awareness.

Our well-being dictates our performance, and we cannot tend to our well-being if we don't have an understanding of who we are. Consider offering your team members personality assessments, such as the CliftonStrengths assessment, Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Enneagram personality test. These assessments increase a person's awareness and provide a language for their unique personalities.

Encourage group discussions about assessment results so that employees can gain a better understanding of themselves and their coworkers. Through self-discovery and increased awareness, people can create opportunities for themselves to use their strengths in the workplace. They can also answer why they feel the way they feel at work.

For example, if an employee is in a position where they work alone most of the day, but they discover that most of their strengths are relationally focused, this employee could speak to their manager and request opportunities for more connection in the workplace. This change is likely to increase an employee's happiness and productivity.

2. Provide personal development resources.

Just like there are professional development resources at employee's fingertips, make tools available for personal development as well. Offer discount codes for your employees to take assessments. Consider giving employees access to life coaches just as you would career coaches.

Provide an online database that employees can go to full of development resources that are constantly updated -- this may include videos, articles, podcasts and more. The more resources available, the more likely your team members will find something that resonates.

3. Encourage personal goals alongside professional goals.

Employees are often encouraged to identify goals for themselves professionally. But if that's the case, personal goals should be included as well. Sit down with your employees individually to ask what skills they would like to develop both personally and professionally. Then, offer your support to help your team members reach them.

4. Schedule time for personal development.

Build scheduled time for self-discovery and personal development into the workday. If you claim personal development is important, but then don't allow time for your team members to invest in themselves, then your words and actions are not aligning.

Each employee should be given a certain amount of time each day to dabble in personal development. Maybe this is first thing in the morning, or it could be the last few minutes of the day before transitioning into home life. This time is an important long-term investment.

Showing your team how much you care about them as people and not just as employees will transform the way they start to approach their work. So, next time you implement a professional development plan, prioritize personal development strategies as well.

Kyle Goguen is the founder and president of Pawstruck.com, an online retailer and manufacturer of natural dog treats and chews.

Published on: Sep 12, 2019
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