Professional Development vs Personal Development

Professional Development vs Personal Development

Richard Branson wrote ‘Train your people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to’. I love that quote.

It goes hand in hand with what I call ‘The Liveable Business’. A business where exactly that happens. People don’t want to leave. The Liveable Business is a whole other blog, but part of it is about developing you and your staff (if you have them).

Professional development vs personal development. I guess we all know what the differences are, don’t we? Wikipedia says personal development is activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realisation of dreams and aspirations. To me – personal development is the act of developing yourself personally. Be it improving your self-awareness, self-knowledge, improving your skills or learning new ones. I believe it helps you get to know (and love!) who you are on lots of different levels.

What is professional development?

Wikipedia says Professional development encompasses all types of facilitated learning opportunities including credentials such as academic degrees to formal coursework, conferences etc. To me – professional development is about workplaces increasing and improving the capabilities of their teams through education and training. I also believe it can increase the level of employee engagement and morale.

I was a late bloomer in both my personal development and my professional development….I guess you could say that I fell into my HR career. I was travelling abroad, living and working in London for a large Law Firm in their HR department. I knew then that I wanted to make a career out of this job….. I learnt everything I could from that wonderful team.   Some 18 months later when my now husband and I returned to Australia I was on a mission to work in HR. I had been a Personal Assistant (PA) for most of my previous working life so edged my way in from that angle and my first gig back in Oz was with Suncorp in Brisbane as the assistant to the Leadership team in their HR Department. Score!!!

People undertaking Professional Development

I entered that organisation armed with my many years of PA skills and customer service skills and about 12 months of working in a HR Department overseas (mainly in the recruitment area).   My first opportunity at increasing my personal development (which coincidentally increased my professional knowing) was taking on what Suncorp called the ‘HR Hotline’, where everyone in the organisation could ring to ask a HR related question. The people that manned it no longer had the capacity to continue, so I put my hand up to be the first port of call. I called myself the Director of First Impressions! After all that’s what I really was – the first impression of the HR group.  I saw that as my chance to get to know the business from the ground up. I was dealing with an organisation with 8000 employees, managers and executive managers.  My expertise grew….quickly!   Taking up to 50 calls a day (and my other daily duties) it had to!!   In short, my knowledge increased, the organisation saw my value to them and I was offered a scholarship by Suncorp to study for my HR qualifications.

That was what kicked off my career to where I am now some 15 years later. During those last years I have undertaken lots of personal development and lots of professional development. For me to undertake professional development, I had to own it. I had to show my employer why it would benefit the business. After all, they were investing their money in me. I had to let them know I was worth the investment. They had to see that they were getting return on their investment. The win/win situation. I win for the personal growth, but the business wins for the new skills and information that I bring back, and implement, into the business.

All this development has led me to where I am now – owning my own business. As you know, my business name is DIG HR. DIG stands for Develop, Inspire, Grow.   When I came up with that name I was going through a lot of changes in my working life. I started studying….again! After I swore off it…it’s hard raising a young family, working full time and studying!   But during that process I learnt so much about myself and where I wanted to be.   Because I invested in myself. And along the way I have grown in so many ways.

Let me ask you a question. How many of you have been sent on a course that you showed no interest in? I know I have. And let me guess…..your engagement in that course was probably pretty low? I’m sure you didn’t implement any of what you learnt when you were back in the business, right?   Let’s face it, we have all had to go to courses or training in our time that we didn’t see the value in.   But when you do see the value in something you attend, you’re like a sponge. That information goes in and stays there.

So from my experiences there are benefits all round. I believe that both personal development and professional development work hand in hand and that the responsibility is all ours. If we want it badly enough we will do what it takes to get it. Yes we may need some support from our employers, however we shouldn’t be doing it just because they are paying for it.   As an individual you have to want to improve yourself personally and be committed to undertake professional development.

Just like Richard Branson says …….treat employees well enough so that they want to stay. That includes taking a collaborative approach and communicating with our employees to get that win/win situation.

For those of you that are leaders, you also have to want to improve yourself personally and professionally to be able to want that for your employees. And when that happens, when you want your staff to have what you want for yourself, that’s when all the possibilities and growth happen.

That’s when you Develop, Inspire and Grow yourself and others.

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