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Rachel Matthews The difference between personal and professional development

We’ve all heard of personal development plans, and even professional development plans, but how exactly do you differentiate between the two? And how do you know which one to focus your energies on?

There is a difference between personal development and professional development, and it’s easy to get caught in the crossfire of the two when looking to further your skills. But there is huge crossover between them as well. So, what are the main differences? 


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The difference between personal and professional development

Professional Development

Professional development involves developing yourself in your role to entirely understand the job you do and how you can improve. It involves enhancing the necessary skills to carry out your role as effectively as possible and is something that will continue throughout your working life.

With changes to our working lives happening every day, be it economical change, amendments in legislation or even the advance of technology, it is important to develop your skillset to remain effective in your career.

Effective professional development involves ensuring your knowledge and understanding of your area of expertise for your career is always at the highest possible level. It is the acquisition of skills and knowledge for career advancement, but it also includes an element of personal development.

Broadly speaking, it may include formal types of vocational education or training that leads to a career related qualification. It can also include informal training and development programmes, which may be delivered on the job in order to develop and enhance skills.

Some examples of professional development are:

  • IT training
  • Health and Safety
  • Accountancy or budgeting
  • Legal knowledge or expertise

These could be delivered in many different methods, such as classroom based learning, eLearning, coaching, consultation, mentoring and more.

Personal Development

When you think of personal development, think about what skills you need to accomplish the results required, both in your role and for life in general. It is about improving your talents and potential, both in and out of the workplace.

By having a thorough understanding of what you need to achieve and how to achieve it, you can develop the necessary skills by way of a solution.

You may have experienced something like the following example:

Imagine there are two people in your team or office, both of whom are great at managing budgets. They are both accurate, detail-oriented and deliver the results needed. However, one of them is a real people person. Their interpersonal and communication skills are fantastic and, as a result of this, they have no problem getting the information they require quickly from colleagues at any level. The other person does not have this skill and often encounters conflict from colleagues, perhaps for many different reasons.

Which of these people do you think needs personal development training?

As you can see from the example, both can do their jobs. Both have the skills required on a professional level to deliver results, however, with the added benefit of excellent relationship building skills one of the employees will always be one step ahead.

Establish exactly what skills you need to succeed in your role. This may be influencing skills, you may need to manage teams, or inspire individuals. It may be that you need to be able to manage upwards or have excellent delegation skills. When you are able to identify these needs, you are able to work towards a personal development plan.

Some examples of personal development are:

  • Leadership training
  • Management training
  • Time management
  • Handling difficult situations and conflict management
  • Communication skills

Start your professional development plan today Download your plan here

Contact us to discuss how we can help you create and deliver effective personal and professional development plans for your people.

Rachel Matthews

Rachel Matthews, Social Media and Marketing Manager

In my blogs I will look at industry constraints and issues and problems that employees face in their day-to-day work lives.


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