When Employees Don't Want to Be Developed

by Tim Sackett | Posted | Performance Management

When Employees Don't Want to Be Developed

Sometimes in HR and Learning, we start to think everyone wants to stand out. That everyone craves being an "A-player" and knocking the ball out of the park. But the truth is, some employees have absolutely zero desire for development. They just don't want to bring their A-game and are perfectly content to be on Team B or even Team C.

And you know what? That's okay.

I know this line of thinking runs counter to everything your team may be working on. Right this very moment, you may be dashing to a meeting about the next Big Thing in learning and development. But some of your employees are happy to simply come to work and do the job they were hired to do.

That's it – no more, no less.

In our latest episode of TalentTalks, I dive into the challenging topic of why some people just don't want to be developed and I give you some next steps so that you, and your employee, can both continue to move forward.

Finding the high-potentials and the so-so potentials

We all know how to find the high-potential employees. Whether through data, reputation or programs to develop rising stars in the organization, we all have our high-potentials (HiPos) list. These employees stand out with three characteristics:

  1. Ability
  2. Aspiration
  3. Engagement

We look to HiPos to take up future positions in leadership that are crucial for the company's success.

Our employees who are not HiPos are also easy to spot: They do their job without asking for more responsibility or advancement. They may not want to be developed. Another way to find these types of workers is to ask them, "Do you really want to be developed?". But if the answer is "no," we in L&D have to accept it. It's okay! After all, do you really want a team of nothing but A-players? I think that would be too intense for most of us.

Checking in with your B and C teams from time to time

So, what happens next? Do we abandon our colleagues who aren't interested in development? Nope. We don't give up on them. You could suggest some self-development activities and ideas that allow for self-reflection.

Definitely check in with your employees at least once or twice per year and see if their situation is still the same. For instance, personal situations can change and the employee may now want to make more income or develop a skill they have discovered they possess. In that case, the development game is on and you can take them through the process.

We still all need B-players on our teams

Not every employee wants to be developed. We all need B-players on our team. They often love the company, the culture and their daily tasks. But going to the next step? Not going to happen. And we have to be okay with that.

Embrace all of your team members and where they are on their employment journey. There is a place for everyone and an L&D team that realizes this and accepts people where they are is in a position to thrive.

The Definitive Handbook for Creating Exceptional Experiences at Work

Arm yourself with 101 effective talent experience strategies from industry experts.


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Cover of the book
Cover of the book

The Definitive Handbook for Creating Exceptional Experiences at Work

Arm yourself with 101 effective talent experience strategies from industry experts.


Download Now


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