Development or Development

I talk a lot about development. The problem I’ve discovered is that when I talk about development with business organizations, there is a difference between what business leaders think of development and what I’m talking to them about.

So, we can think of development as having two sides: Employee Development (or Professional Development) and Adult Development.

What is employee development?

Employee development is defined as a process where the employee with the support of his/her employer undergoes various training programs to enhance his/her skills and acquire new knowledge and skills. We can think of employee development as a technical challenge which needs to be addressed with a technical solution. The challenge is that an update or increase in skills is needed. The technical solution is training, which can be accomplished through organizational training, outside seminars, or other education. This is relatively simple.

But what happens when there are performance issues that training doesn’t solve? It’s likely that the employee is motivated, ambitious, conscientious, and engaged. Yet there seems to be an inability to rise to performance standards, even after additional training is provided. What is the problem here?

To understand the issue, we need first to understand that most jobs today are complex. They involve a level of autonomy, and more than a routine, simple task. Jobs are complex, and in order to perform well in a complex job a certain level of mental and emotional complexity is required. Unfortunately, almost 60% of all people do not possess the level of mental complexity needed to master a complex job.