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  • Writer's pictureEdwin and George

How Great Companies Develop their People

Research by Gallup in 2018 found that ‘90% of millennials placed personal growth and development in the top three reasons why they would choose to work at a company.

(‘Harvard Business Review’ March 2019).

So, what do companies who develop their people best have in common?

Three things:

  1. They have a prominent and public commitment to developing their people; they communicate this clearly, regularly and authentically. They back their commitment up and invest in people development.

  2. They’re aware that the manager or team leader makes the difference; ‘people join companies and quit their boss.’ There is an emphasis on management and leadership development. The idea that all the great performance and engagement companies want to see occurs in teams; and the relationship that the manager or team leader has with their people is critical. The best companies invest in those who are key to developing their people; and these are the manager or team leader.

  3. They understand the uniqueness of each person and that the uniqueness of individuals is a feature – not a fiction. Each person’s human nature and aspirations are different and that’s a powerful thing. Most companies don’t seem to realise this when designing and supporting development activities.

Take point 3.

Marcus Buckingham says:

‘So, you build all your people systems not around coercion or a model or a framework that they have to fit. It’s not about the steps they all have to follow. Those are the companies who don’t do well by their people. You build your people systems around the realisation that each individual has unique talents, interests and unique development needs Facebook says ‘Our whole principle for people development is one size fits one.’ (Marcus Buckingham: ‘Nine Lies About Work’).

When it comes to training, learning, coaching and careers – one size doesn’t fit all.

‘We decided to skip the frameworks and grow one-to-one development for everyone., built on their strengths and aspirations. We want people to bring their whole-selves to work – people are unique. Together we can figure out how you can make the best contribution and develop fully.’ (Ricard Eaton, Head of HR Facebook – see ‘Business Insider’ April 2016).

‘The best companies dive into the specifics of who you really are and how they can get the best out of you.’ (Marcus Buckingham).

‘Goals motivate employees to grow – but not everyone has the same vision. Managers or coaches can guide employees to identify specific interests and aspirations that are unique to them.

‘Companies should then ensure that individual learning activities align with corporate goals. In this way a win-win outcome can be created. Individuals then have career goals that make sense to them – what’s more they are more likely to achieve their development goals because they have helped originate them.’ (Ralph Taparia,

In a Harvard Business Review Article in March 2019, ‘Why a one-size approach to development doesn’t’ work,’ Sydney Finklestein says. ‘When you embrace customised employee development you become far more effective as a boss. Who knows you might event turn into an exceptional one.’

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