How to create a development culture and make your people stay?

Marianne Slotboom
Dec 16, 2021

In almost every study (e.g. i4cp, Gallup, McKinsey) in which personal development is involved, the investment in it consistently shows a high positive correlation to market performance (market share, profitability, revenue growth, and customer satisfaction). 

Furthermore, a development culture also shows a high positive correlation with the retainment of talent. For example: when early-career talent is asked to describe their employer-of-choice, they consistently cite development opportunities as a key characteristic (i4cp, 2018). Conversely, the lack of development opportunities is among the main reasons people cite for leaving an organization. 

In recent engagement research, personal development is shown to be one of the main drivers (“if you invest in me, I will invest in you”). (e.g. Bersin, 2014; Grant, 2012; Masuda, 2015)

A development culture, however, is more than just adding more courses or content. Three integrated components to building a culture of development will be highlighted:

1. The organization must value development.

Nine of 10 organizations with extensive learning (development) cultures specifically address learning in their stated values. In addition, there are three essential characteristics that stand out in high-performing organizations:

  • Budgets are sufficient to meet development needs.
  • There are dedicated learning/development functions.
  • There is senior-level responsibility for organizational development.
How to make your people stay?

2. The learner needs individual development plans

In the i4cp’s study on performance management (2018), IDPs were the number-one ingredient in a successful performance management process. High-performing organizations have three components to their IDPs:

  • Each employee has a regularly updated IDP.
  • Employees are held accountable for learning and development in their IDPs.
  • Non-financial rewards/recognition are provided for learning and development.
Individual development plans

3. The manager must be a developer of talent.

High-performance organizations are 3x more likely to hold leaders at all levels accountable for actively demonstrating the importance of learning and development. There are three important components of managers as developers of talent:

  • Managers need to be provided with training on how to be developers of talent and be aware of the options available. 
  • Managers must be held accountable and measured how well they develop talent.
  • Managers who are good at developing talent need to be recognized/rewarded for it.

The power of a development culture is enhanced because of today’s tight labor market. The ability to become a talent magnet for today’s consumer of work is an essential component of this, giving organizations a competitive advantage. No matter what you call it, a development culture is the key ingredient to recruit, engage, and retain that scarce talent.


·     This article is based on a post by Jay Jamrog (2018), i4cp’s co-founder and a futurist. i4cp is a UK based research firm that conducts regular surveys on HR practices.

  • The effects of simultaneous learning and performance goals on performance. A Masude, E Locke, K Williams (2015). Journal of Cognitive Psychology. 
  • Attracting and retaining the right talent. S Keller, M Meany (2017). McKinsey.
Marianne Slotboom
The author
Marianne Slotboom

Marianne is a strategic partner and practical developer of human behavior that helps leaders, teams and organizations become more focused and effective, elevating their value to customers. In 2015, Marianne founded Yellow Training to answer the call for more inspirational and creative leadership in the modern workplace.

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