Training vs Personal Development

Training and Personal Development, are they the same thing?

In this new blog, Ayo explores the details in what separates the two and put emphasis on the need for leaders to lead the conversation to push for personal development, implementing it as part of their organisations strategy.

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Training vs Personal Development

What’s the difference between training and personal development?

You might be thinking this is a trick question, “How can there be a difference?”, “They’re the same thing, no?”.

Well… shock. They are not the same. Sorry!

The next logical question you’d ask yourself, and quite rightly so, is “How are they different?”.

Let’s take a look…


Let’s start with Training. Training usually covers the basic skills and tools needed for the current role we are in or entering, a means to fill the gaps of the technical sides of the jobs required activities. This might come in the form of qualifications we work towards, building technical knowledge of the software you need to do your work or gaining an accreditation.

This also highlights how job specific training can be in comparison to personal development.

Personal Development

Now that we’ve gotten that down, how do we define personal development?

In contrast to training, personal development is more forward looking and contains an element of upskilling for the challenges or opportunities of the future. The process of personal development is therefore continuous and fundamental to the growth of both employee and employer.

Training is hailed as an important aspect of our job roles, employers should also treat personal development as such, with  87% of millennials saying professional development or career growth opportunities are very important. Although it is generally on the organisation to provide training and for employees to find time to focus on career development, employers should encourage and create a culture that supports such endeavours. It can be difficult as a leader to gauge the returns of personal development, where job specific training often time is faster and has more tangible results.

The gain from personal development, though can develop slower, adds invaluable motivation and improved performance in the long term, for both the employee and organisation.

At NKD, we believe leaders are to play a larger part in their employees’ personal development and to take it on as a means to nurture talent; not just look at it as an operational task.

The Benefits 

So, what are the benefits?

  1. Personal development helps to future proof both the employees career trajectory and the growth of the organisation they work for
  2. Personal development provides more than technical skills but also soft skills (aka the new “power skills”) that translate across job roles (74% of workers say that a lack of employee development opportunities is preventing them from reaching their full potential)
  3. More than transferring across job roles, ‘soft skills’ acquired also aid in promotion to leadership and seniority within functions
  4. It helps in building the confidence of your employees and in turn improves their performance
  5. In addition to confidence feeding into performance, it also improves employee retention as employees feel more comfortable and satisfied in their work

Personal Development in Performance Conversations

When we can get to a place of seeing value in personal development, it puts us in a place to think of how to encourage personal development, especially from a leadership perspective.

An example of this is when a manager incorporates it into their performance conversations , where this might be a regular catch up with both a present and future focus, on the individual and the task. 

Having a relationship with your team which allows for dialogue on personal development is key. It creates a comfortable environment to encourage uptake of programmes and share future dreams and aspirations means so, team members will be more comfortable asking for time or resource to be put towards their personal development (If companies invested in staff development, 94% of employees would stay longer, according to ClearCompany). 

Finally, we leave you this, the thoughts of Steve Hawter, Vice President of Learning and Development at The Learning Experience, professional development “controls an employee’s readiness for contributing to a company in new ways, whether the company adopts a new strategy, expands or requires change.”

How we can help

Now that you’ve got some insight of training and personal development and how managers and leaders can implement this discussion into their organisations, NKD are here to help you on your journey.

At NKD, we offer a range of e-learning modules and live or virtual workshops aimed to help leaders improve, the often dreaded, performance conversations and create progressive discussions and targets for employees. 

For more information on these products, get in touch with us here or if you’re looking for something bespoke – check out our previous work