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Developmental Activities 



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Self Development

As individuals in the workplace develop personally, the organization as a whole benefits.  A team member who is engaged in growth activities generally has increased motivation, morale, and effectiveness.  This section of Workshop Exercises provides a look at ways for individuals to enhance their skills, to be more effective in their current capacity, and to prepare them for other work related opportunities.  Employee development is a collaborative effort between the supervisor and the employee. It balances the employee’s needs and interests with the organization’s goals and objectives - a win-win situation for both.

Types of Developmental Activities

Learning Styles

Emotional Intelligence


Unlearning: A Strategy for New Learning

Productivity Blockers

Ten Types of Developmental Activities for the Workplace 


Teams and organizations that support and implement developmental activities often see positive growth in motivation, morale, and performance.  Providing employees with meaningful developmental activities can increase skills, encourage collaboration, expand knowledge, and nurture a desire for additional learning. The best developmental activities balance the employee’s needs and interests with the organization’s goals and objectives - a win-win situation for both.  In short, developmental activities are a means to creating an engaged and valued workforce. 

The United States Department of State, Bureau of Human Resources, has outlined ten basic types of developmental activities.  Team leaders may skillfully implement these types of developmental activities to strengthen the capacity and depth of their teams.

Ten Types of Developmental Activities

1. Cross Training.  Cross training is training someone in another activity that is related to his/her current work.  This is a good way to learn new skills, combat boredom, and increase an individual’s value and flexibility.

2. Formal Training.  Formal training is a classroom type of learning that can be done “in-house” or externally (training centers, colleges, private vendors, etc.)

3. Matrix Teams. This is the formation of work groups, cross functional teams, problem solving teams, task forces, committees, and special project groups.  The goal is to share information, knowledge, collaboration, and expertise.

4. Mentoring.  Mentoring falls into two basic categories: formal and informal. 

A. Formal mentoring is based on an explicit agreement with specific goals and a structured process to achieve those goals. 


B. Informal mentoring has a looser structure where a more experience employee takes another “under his or her wing.”  The mentor provides the protégé with advice, insight, and support.

5.  On-the-Job Training. Here the employee is working as he/she learns a job.  We only get about 25% of what we use in our jobs through formal learning. The other 75% of learning happens as we creatively adopt and adapt to ever changing circumstances. It happens when we ask a coworker a question and get an answer or when we collaborate with members of our team on a project.

6. Position Enhancement. This kind of learning involves modifying an employee’s responsibilities to meet a personal development objective. Job responsibilities are stretched in some way. This can either be vertical or horizontal.

Job Enlargement is the horizontal expansion of a job. It involves the addition of tasks at the same level of skill and responsibility.


Job Enrichment is the addition to a job of tasks that increase the amount of employee control or responsibility. It is a vertical expansion of the job.

7.  Self-Directed Learning Projects.  An employee is assigned or voluntarily undertakes a specific project that promotes the expansion of skills and knowledge through self-directed learning or research and produces a final product that contributes to organizational objectives.

8. Special Assignments.  A Special Assignment is a learning strategy in which the employee performs temporary duties on a full or part-time basis. These duties may be performed within or outside the current organization.

9. Special Developmental  Assignments.  When working on a developmental assignment, employees are still assigned to their regular positions, but for a period of time they will work on a particular assignment often with a different team leader. During the assignment they will perform tasks assigned, based on the identified career goals and interests and/ or the position they are filling. It can be a great learning experience and can assist employees in their career goals and help them determine if a particular job would be right for them. It broadens their knowledge of other functions and departments and offers them different and challenging job experiences.

10. Self Developmental Learning.  Team members are directed self-learning materials that they can use on their own time to enhance their skills and knowledge.  This may include books, DVDs, Internet courses, workbooks, etc.