Unlocking potential: 8 effective people development strategies

Discover people development strategies to boost growth in your company

Regardless of your industry, advancements in tech and changes in demand are likely causing your business’s needs to evolve. This is why people development is a critical part of every business. Empowering your staff with the right tools and knowledge is at the core of organizational success. People development aims to equip employees with the skills, attitudes, and know-how they need to excel in their roles. The outcome is engaged employees who contribute to your business’s growth. 

In this post we’ll explore the essential aspects of people development, shedding light on its importance, strategies, and effective implementation methods. Having a solid people development strategy in place will unlock both your individual employees’ potential, and your business’s potential.

What is people development?

People development is the process of providing employees with the essential skills, knowledge, and mindset that drives your company’s success. Although often used interchangeably with employee development, it extends beyond just addressing skill gaps within the organization. This encompassing strategy covers four main domains:

Employee onboarding

Ensuring new team members are equipped with the essential tools, resources, and knowledge for a smooth transition into their role while aligning with the company’s culture.

Training and development

Investing in employee growth through learning events like workshops, courses, and online training, promoting ongoing skill enhancement.

Performance management

Providing regular, constructive feedback and conducting performance assessments to boost individual and team performance.

Career progression

Supporting staff in their professional journey by offering transparent career pathways. 
An effective people development strategy empowers organizations to cultivate robust employee skill sets, ultimately reducing turnover rates and enhancing overall productivity. This is an ongoing effort that requires proactivity by training managers and HR.

People development versus employee development 

People development is closing skill gaps. It adopts a more expansive look, considering the long-term growth and success of employees and the organization. 

Employee development is about advancement in the organization. Its primary focus is on enhancing immediate job performance. 
Both approaches hold significant value and are integrated to create an effective learning and development program.

Why developing people matters

All sectors are feeling the pressure of inflation, labor shortages, and historic quit rates. No one is experiencing the fallout more than industries with deskless workers. But the challenges don’t end there. Industries with deskless workforces are experiencing major skill gaps as well. 

A recent report by TalentCards revealed that 72% of surveyed companies have unfilled positions due to their inability to find qualified workers.

Furthermore, the most common challenge onboarding managers face is that 48% of new hires need more skills for the job and require a lot of training to be brought up to speed.

People development has been under-prioritized among deskless workers for too long. For organizations to keep up, that must change. Here are some key reasons why people development matters:

Empowered staff

When given the right tools, individuals feel more confident in their roles. Confidence leads to better decision-making, enhanced problem-solving abilities, and improved productivity. This benefits the organization as a whole, creating a culture of growth.

Closing the skills gap

The world is evolving rapidly, especially in the workplace. Technologies change, industries transform, and new skills become essential. People development helps bridge the gap between the existing skills of employees and the skills needed for current or future roles. This ensures that your workforce remains relevant and competent in an ever-changing landscape.

Boost employee engagement

A Gallup report found that 59% of millennials look for growth and development opportunities when job searching. Investing in people development shows that your organization values its workforce and is willing to invest in their future. This enhances employee engagement and job satisfaction, reducing turnover rates and making yours a desirable workplace. When employees see a clear path for growth and progression within the organization, they’re more likely to stay and contribute to long-term success.

A culture of learning

People development fosters a culture of continuous learning and improvement. Learning becomes a shared value within the organization, encouraging collaboration, innovation, and adaptability. Cross-training employees is a great way to develop staff. Well-trained employees are more efficient, increasing productivity and better business outcomes.

Increased profits

A well-developed workforce contributes to the organization’s success. They’re more likely to drive innovation, improve customer satisfaction, and increase profitability.  

Investing in your people development strategy isn’t just an option, but a necessity. It’s a key driver for organizational success, ensuring employees are well-prepared, engaged, and adaptable in today’s business landscape.

8 people development strategies

People development is an excellent way to invest in your staff, without breaking the bank. Traditional learning and development can incur costs, but the staff development strategies below can save money while improving employee retention, engagement, and performance

1. Conduct a skills gap analysis

A skills gap or training needs analysis involves a clear definition of an existing situation, the desired situation, and how the two are disconnected. This focused strategy aids in prioritizing actions and interventions based on the most critical needs.

2. Just-in-time training

On-demand or just-in-time training provides learning for employees right when they need it. This type of training is supplementary to longer learning events. When someone needs to reinforce or learn a new skill in the moment, they can access the necessary resources. Increased productivity, reduced training costs, and improved accessibility are just some of the benefits of this strategy. 

3, Mentorship

Providing new hires with a mentor is important to early support. It significantly improves employee retention rates, as employees with mentors guiding their growth and advocating for their advancement are less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. Productivity is enhanced by allowing mentees to learn from a broader spectrum of experiences their mentors share. Skill gaps are closed by elevating learning beyond mundane courses and ensuring accountability for skill development. A more inclusive culture will occur within your organization. 

4. Job shadowing

Shadowing someone in their role at work, known as job shadowing, provides employees with valuable insights into various positions within the organization. It encourages a collaborative environment, allowing employees to understand the inner workings of different company departments and how they collectively contribute to achieving your business’s goals.

5. Peer coaching

Colleagues tend to approach each other for advice rather than reaching out to a manager. They feel more at ease seeking help from their peers, and your strategies for developing people should acknowledge this. Promoting peer coaching within your organization is a logical step. Pairing employees encourages sharing knowledge, creating a culture of learning and collaboration.

6. Targeted training

Targeted training addresses specific skill gaps through both formal and informal learning methods. It aids in optimal preparation and support for both new and existing employees in their roles. A study found that one week of targeted training can increase employee productivity by 10%. Targeted training helps accelerate onboarding and help improve staff success. 

7. Upskilling or reskilling

Keeping up with new developments is tough in a swiftly changing business landscape. Identifying critical skills helps tailor upskilling or reskilling. Empowering employees with new skills boosts confidence for new roles. A focused strategy pinpoints performance improvement areas by defining current and desired situations. It prioritizes interventions based on pressing needs.

8. Job rotation

Job rotations involve periodically moving employees to different organizational roles, promoting skill diversification, knowledge sharing, and employee engagement. It helps identify potential leaders and promotes collaboration.

Tips on implementing people development

Creating an effective people development strategy involves careful planning and implementation. Here are some key steps to help you build a comprehensive approach:

  • Define organizational objectives

Begin by understanding the specific objectives and goals of your organization. This will guide you in identifying the skills, behaviors, and capabilities crucial for your people development strategy.

  • Conduct training needs analysis 

Perform a thorough training needs analysis to uncover existing skills gaps. Ask relevant questions like what the organization aims to achieve, what skills are necessary, and if there are alternative approaches to training.

  • Choose development methods

Tailor your people development methods based on identified skill gaps. For example, consider job rotations to enhance understanding between executives.

  • Develop and implement plans

Create personalized development plans for each employee, considering their needs, interests, and role requirements. Align these plans with the organization’s goals to ensure a cohesive approach to skill development. Implement the plan following steps so everyone knows what to expect. 

  • Monitor progress

Your people development initiatives shouldn’t be the type of thing that you set and forget. After rolling out your initiative, be sure to follow up with your managers and their employees to see how particular skills or overall productivity are changing.

  • Gather feedback

One good place to start when it comes to people development is by asking employees themselves what parts of the job they’d like to learn more about, and where they’d like to improve or progress. A quick and easy way to do this is through the use of pulse surveys.

Create mobile training that your teams can complete from anywhere

Deliver learning and development resources that employees can access directly from their smartphones.


What is the role of people development?

People development is important in:

  • Providing employees with the necessary skills and knowledge
  • Closing skills gaps
  • Boosting engagement and retention
  • Improving profitability and productivity
  • Creating a culture of learning
What is people development in an organization?

People development is a comprehensive strategy aiming to equip employees with vital skills, knowledge, and attitudes for organizational success, and goes beyond just addressing skill gaps. It encompasses employee onboarding, training, performance management, and career progression.

What is people development in leadership?

Leadership people development involves elevating the skills, knowledge, and capabilities of leaders and their teams, cultivating a growth-focused environment. It offers learning opportunities and support to enable individuals to reach their maximum potential, particularly in leadership roles.

Embark on a growth-fueled future

People development is more than just a buzzword; it catalyzes organizational growth and success. By prioritizing the growth of individuals within an organization, we create a productive, engaged, and forward-thinking workforce. From targeted training, to job rotations and mentorship programs, there are plenty of opportunities to engage talent and bridge skill gaps. 

In today’s fast-paced, tech-driven landscape, implementing a high-quality mobile training platform in your learning and development strategy keeps you from being left behind. Implementing continuous people development is more than just a “nice to have”, it’s a strategic necessity.

Key takeaways

  • People development is a holistic approach that focuses on nurturing skills, knowledge, and attitudes crucial for employees and the organization’s success.
  • Conducting a training needs analysis and identifying skill gaps helps organizations strategically bridge gaps with targeted training methods.
  • Creating personalized development plans for employees based on their needs and aligning them with organizational objectives ensures more effective outcomes.