How do I create development opportunities for myself within the workplace?

How do I create development opportunities for myself within the workplace?


Written by Gabrielle Lee

Senior OD Catalyst & Marketing Specialist


“I'll wait for my manager to nominate me for a course."

How often have you heard this around your office?

There seems to be some kind of self-limitation when we think about development opportunities within the workplace, and the no.1 fallacy that employees subscribe to is that the manager has overview of their learning and development, and therefore it’s best to leave it to him/her to plan our development opportunities.


I must admit that I'm puzzled by this mentality. If we’re the ones being employed, doesn’t it stand to reason that we’re the ones who need to develop ourselves so that we remain employable? After all, learning fills our cup and not anyone else’s! This is especially true given that the workplace of the future is demanding skill sets that we may not yet possess - skills that the next generation is trained for and we aren’t. The reality is that we’ve got a lot more catching up to do, to ensure that we don’t become obsolete. 


Perhaps for some of us, we just don’t know where to begin because there are too many development areas we need to consider. We might have limited ideas about personal development because it has been perceived as something that’s taken care of by institutions that we are in; be it a school or an organisation. We might also have run out of ideas for development, other than going for a 2-day program that is sponsored by the company. 


In the spirit of creativity, I’d like you to try this short 1-minute exercise now: With pen and paper in hand, I’d like you to write down a list of self-development ideas that you have, without first being intimidated or limited by the “impossibility" of doing them. 


After you’ve created your own list, let’s have a look at the other ideas that we’ve come across from participants in our workshops. What could some of these personal development opportunities look like?

  • Leveraging on the organisation’s learning platforms
  • Shadowing another person at work for a period of time
  • Seeking a mentor at work
  • Getting involved in a cross-functional area of work
  • Job rotation
  • Video learning
  • Asking for feedback from the people that one works closely with
  • Finding out what core competencies are required in the role that one wants to develop in
  • Reading self-help resources or books
  • Asking quality questions that help one to understand someone's decision making processes better


I hope these ideas have opened up some possibilities for you, and motivated you to start taking action in some way! 


If you’d like to share your own creative ideas for self-development, please feel free to comment or drop us a note at - We’d be really happy to hear from you!