Today, Personal Development is greatly impacting job performance. Companies are investing more resources in the subject and giving employees opportunities for personal growth. Subjects such as awareness, identity, talents, potential, and others are becoming part of company’s vocabulary.
In a publication done in 2011 by the International Journal of Business and Social Sciences (1), Abdul Hammeed and Aamer Waheed make the case that employee’s personal development has a remarkable effect on organizational effectiveness.
And what about women? According to the World Bank (2), on average, women represent 50% of the workforce in many countries. But in companies mainly run by men, we wondered how do they see this subject of personal development, in particular supporting women?
We decided to have an informal conversation with three expat executives working in Vietnam and their experience in supporting women in the subject.
When asked about the value of personal development for women, they all agreed that they take ownership of their progress. TH an executive working in the construction industry in Vietnam says:
“Women tend to take this extremely serious, and extend this learning into to all the areas of their lives, not just at work. They become more confident and enthusiastic about life, and if they are happy, then we are all happy.”
In a more general context he says:
“Regardless if you are a man or a woman, self-development leads to personal satisfaction and therefore words like potential and awareness take a real meaning to all of us.”
Going back to the conversation about women, for them women personal development connect to courage, will, passion and enthusiasm, which results in a contribution to businesses and companies. According to them, it can really change women’s thinking in gaining new perspectives on the decision-making that eventually enriches their lives.
Personal development topics that are considered most relevant for women at the work place according to these executives are self-esteem, recognition, authority, and independence. Also depending on the age bracket, dual roles like home responsibilities and professional concerns become very relevant; however, for younger women, competition, independence, and success seem to be the subjects.
They all agreed that work performance is greatly impacted by personal development.
For CM, who works as a consultant for different companies in the country: “it brings more commitment; more meaning (the behavior connected to their meaning is obvious) then women become more active and relevant in their roles. Women want to feel empowered and they don’t want to depend on anyone, especially with new generations.” However, they also recognized that sometimes due to personal development, employees decide to change career and leave work. “It is part of the risk we take as employers, however we also see that sooner or later those employees will find something that is meaningful for them.”
There are several areas in which they believe women need more support. CB an execute of the supermarket services in Vietnam says: “politics for example, mainly internal politics in companies, are a tricky territory for anyone, and women tend to shy away from the conversation. This is due to many reasons and one of them is the lack of preparation and tools to seat at the table and have the necessary discussions. Another territory that is hard for women is balance between family responsibilities and work; they seem lonely in this terrain and many times they have too much on their plates. I believe that to have initiatives to break traditional gender roles are also a huge topic.”
These men also agreed on facilitating personal development for women in the work place, mainly because it helps them and the company to create environments conductive to positives changes and involvement. However, some women can be a bit uncertain to move away from the traditional roles, and the possibilities that can be created for them. TH: “it is always good to show them examples of people who have had the experience, it helps them to energize and to contribute to the company.”
Currently, it is relevant to bring different viewpoints, but this is more about having diversity of ideas/different perspectives. Women are bringing these to companies and many men are appreciating this new conversation, because it allows them to explore new territories. It is important to invest in people who can bring a holistic perspective to the work place, balance ideas and finally make companies better for their employees.
Personal development has a huge impact in companies and also in the societies as a whole; it is becoming important to find places in which men and women can support each other and contribute to a better world, additionally, women can take a step towards their own personal development to find a more balanced and fulfilled life.
By Ivonne Garrido, Life Coach.
(1) Employee Development and Its Affects on Employee Performance. A Conceptual Framework. Abdul Hameed & Aamer Waheed. International Journal of Business and Social Sciences, Vol 2, N13 [Special Issue – July 2011] – See more at:
(2) Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship: Final Report to the MCM 2012. http://www.oecd.org/employment/50423364.pdf. p. 17.