People Development: The Key to Unleashing Employee Potential

Lorenz Illing 7/13/2023

We show you how to increase your employees' satisfaction through people development and how to conquer the shortage of skilled workers.

Table of contents
  1. What is meant by People Development?
  2. What is the goal of People Development?
  3. What does a People Development process look like?
  4. Which methods are there in People Development?
  5. What makes People Development successful?
  6. Why does People Development fail?
  7. Which KPIs can measure People Development?
  8. Which People Development tools are helpful in implementation?
  9. Conclusion

People Development is a critical element in the growth process of every company. It allows us to recognize and promote the skills and talents of our employees, creating a more productive and satisfied team. Studies such as the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey also show that younger generations in particular are actively looking for employers who can offer a robust growth environment.

What is meant by People Development?

People Development is a strategic process that aims to expand the skills and abilities of employees. It helps them unfold their personal and professional potential, making them more satisfied, efficient, and connected to the company.

What is the goal of People Development?

As stated, the main goal of People Development is to increase performance, satisfaction, and retention of employees in the company. Following the motto
“Recruiting is King, Retention is Queen” it is essential to understand People Development not as a “cost”, but as an investment!

Companies often spend hundreds of thousands of euros on recruiting new employees. However, if they forget to invest in their existing employees, these recruitment costs rise disproportionately because employees leave the company quickly due to a lack of perspective and their positions need to be filled again.

By investing in the development of our team, we enable them to achieve their professional goals, fulfill their role, perform better in the long term and economically grow the company in an innovative way.

What does a People Development process look like?

The People Development process varies depending on the size of the company, but consists of at least 4 steps:

  1. Potential recognition: This is about identifying, recording and understanding the strengths and potential, skills and interests of employees as the basis of the growth process. Modern human development often talks about the principle “Strengthening strengths” . And even if the main focus on strengths makes sense: Identifying potential for improvement, is equally important to know apparent “weaknesses” and to eliminate them as much as possible so that they do not prevent employees from fully playing out their strengths.
  2. Planning: Based on potential recognition, suitable developmental measures are planned on a content and time level. The most important thing here is to ensure that employees can concentrate 100 percent on the development measures. It is pointless to place a further training measure in a particularly stressful period of work, so that the person has no head for inspiration and the implementation of what has been learned. 
  3. Implementation: The planned measures are carried out, e.g., through training (like a Leadership Program at TAM ;)), mentoring, coaching etc.
  4. Evaluation and adjustment: The effectiveness of the measures is evaluated and the program is adjusted accordingly.

Which methods are there in People Development?

There are countless methods in People Development (and more and more are emerging through Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, AI and Co.). The most relevant methods are:

  • Coaching and Mentoring: Here, experienced colleagues or external coaches support employees in improving their skills, achieving their developmental goals, or solving personal challenges.

  • Job Rotation and Cross-Training: Here, employees gain experience in different areas or positions in the same - or a cooperating company, to expand their skills and knowledge.

  • Training and Further Education: In this mostly largest (and most complex) part of People Development strategies  specific skills and knowledge are conveyed through training, seminars or courses. The Training and Further Education part is so complex because the further education market is extremely large and unregulated . Almost anyone can call themselves a trainer and consultant and sell further training. Whether these trainings really enable the employees is usually only known by the company afterwards. It is therefore worth obtaining experience reports from other human development officers in advance and to bring reliable further education partners on board in the long term in order to establish a uniform training standard in the company. As a company, you don't necessarily have to go to great lengths to search for trainers, plan, book and optimize yourself. Especially for companies with smaller HR departments there are numerous possibilities, to develop employees in open programs of further education academies. These can usually guarantee a standardized quality standard and also have the advantage that the participants in peer-learning formats can learn not only from people from their own company, but also from experiences from people from other contexts.

What makes People Development successful?

Successful People Development requires a clear strategy, communication, commitment, and support at all levels of the company. This goes from the management to the employees who ultimately benefit from the further education measure - or are influenced by it. It is important that the development is based on the individual needs and goals of the employees and that regular feedback and recognition are part of the process.

Why does People Development fail?

Perhaps a small personal digression on this: We at TAM Academy have been supporting companies from startups, scale-ups to large corporations for many years in the areas of Modern Leadership Development and New Work. And if you do your job as a further education partner correctly, People Development projects don't fail. However, there are some stumbling blocks that can make such measures difficult and can affect success:

  • Lack of Strategy: A successful People Development program requires a well-thought-out and clear strategy. Without such a strategy, there is a risk that efforts are scattered and inefficient and ultimately lead nowhere. Therefore, the question of why should always be at the beginning. Do we want to become more innovative as a company and learn new hard skills? Do we want to modernize our culture and therefore start with the management culture?
  • Lack of Management Support: The support of the management level is crucial for the success of People Development initiatives. If management does not fully support these efforts, carries them along and ideally even sets a positive example, it is unlikely that they will be successful.
  • Insufficient Resources: People Development requires investments in time, money and resources. If these are not available, no program can be run effectively.
  • Lack of Individualization: Every employee has individual needs, skills and goals. A "One-Size-Fits-All" approach generally does not work. People Development should be tailored to the individual person. And that does not necessarily mean that HR employees have to develop an individual program for everyone in the company. But at least care should be taken that there is enough room for individual consideration and development in the common measures.
  • Lack of Feedback and Tracking: Without regular feedback and evaluations, it can be difficult to measure progress and make necessary adjustments. Therefore, consistent tracking and feedback are crucial. And not only directly after the measure, but also 1, 3, 6 or 12 months later.
  • Lack of Employee Participation: If those who are supposed to benefit from the measure are not ready or motivated to participate in the development programs, the success is greatly restricted. They have to recognize the individual value of participation and be ready to engage actively. Here good communication and internal advertising are absolutely key. Measures must not feel like imposed training sessions, but must have the impact of an experience, a real incentive.

Which KPIs can measure People Development?

KPIs for People Development can include employee satisfaction, employee retention, performance improvement and the progress in achieving individual development goals.

In addition, participation in training and further education as well as feedback from employees and superiors can also be used as indicators.

At a meta level, it is also important to view development measures from the perspective of corporate strategic goals: Which company KPIs does the measure contribute to and how can I measure the contribution to company success?

Which People Development tools are helpful in implementation?

There are many tools that can be helpful in People Development. These include:

  • Learning platforms or Learning Management Systems (LMS) for the delivery and management of further training, for example: 


People Development is a decisive factor for the success of every company. It allows managers and employees to recognize and develop their skills and talents and contributes to the creation of a positive and productive company culture. By using suitable methods and tools, People Development can be effectively controlled and measured, leading to a stronger tie and satisfaction of employees and helping companies to defeat the shortage of skilled workers.

Lorenz Illing
Lorenz Illing

Lorenz Illing ist Geschäftsführer und Cheftrainer der TAM Akademie mit tiefen Wurzeln in der Digital­wirtschaft und einer großen Begeisterung und Expertise in den Bereichen Corporate Culture, Modern LeadershipNew Work. Sein beruflicher Erfahrungsschatz birgt einen facettenreichen Mix aus strategischem und operativem Unter­nehmertum, Mentoring und Kulturentwicklung von Hypergrowth-Startups. Seine Erfahrung aus sieben Jahren Leistungssport auf Weltmeister-Niveau haben ihn mit Methoden und Tools ausgestattet, die Führungskräfte dabei unterstützen, an der Haltung, Selbstwirksamkeit und der Performance ihrer wichtigsten Mitarbeitenden zu arbeiten.

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