Development and learning – how important is it to engage with your people?

Development and learning – how important is it to engage with your people?

We are often asked ‘how do we get our people to be more engaged with our development programmes?’

Perhaps it is because we are also often told that we win work because the client has heard how engaging our programmes are and that we have a real impact on client teams.

But, in our experience, even the most brilliant presenters, or fantastic resources can’t create long-lasting engagement. Getting people to be enthusiastic about learning, growing, and taking action to improve performance needs much more. The key concept is CLARITY.


A big problem is that many people just don’t see the why.

With Continuous Professional Development (CPD), it is easy for people can see where it fits in. It’s another clear step along the learning journey that started with structured exam/qualification training. It is clearly relevant, and the learning can usually be directly applied to client computations, advice, and solutions. The Why.

For an individual to engage with or undertake any professional development, they need to clearly understand three things:

  • What’s in it for me? (WIIFM?)
  • What’s in it for the firm?
  • What’s in it for my clients?


For 2 and 3, the business needs to clarify and communicate its vision and strategy, how this will help the firm and how staff can use it to better serve the needs of clients. The business also needs to identify the key skills that staff (and managers) will need to drive this, and how they should, and could, continually reinforce the core values and behaviours.


For 1, individuals need to understand just how the developmental support will help them be more effective, grow and progress, and how it is relevant to their role, career, and their performance. There must be clarity about:

  • The expectations placed on them
  • The deliverables of their current role
  • How they can progress in their role or progress vertically or horizontally in the firm

For those firms who have created frameworks and career development ‘maps’ then it is a fairly easy process to align development programmes with these resources. For other firms, it may require a bit more effort, but it can make a huge difference.

Another problem with engagement is that many people feel that they can’t ‘apply’ learning, or that they do not believe they have support from management to apply it.

Taking the lead with development and learning

We often hear “I think this management programme is excellent and there are so many takeaways. But can I just ask, have our partners been through the same or will they soon?”

The answer is usually no. The message this gives is ‘why should I engage with this if the partners aren’t?’. The best results we see are when the senior level actively promote, lead, and support development programmes.

This means providing ‘space’ to embed learning, through adjusting chargeability, productivity, and utilisation targets. It means creating effective metrics and measures linked to the learning to support and incentivise individuals to act as measures to drive behaviours.

Engaging people with development means that the £’s is an investment, not a cost. It will improve performance and retention and accelerate career growth. It really is worth taking action.

How can we help you?

Would you like to learn how other firms have turned the tables and developed engaging programmes that people fight to join as participants?  The most successful implementations of a learning environment are where senior teams have led the way. Find out how we can help you and your firm. Email Kate or contact us here.