Professional Identity:
a Game Changer
in Talent Development

Why do organisations invest in their personnel? Mostly because they want to maximise the available skill-set and increase productivity. But what do employees want? Seeing people-development through the lens of professional identity brings a fresh perspective to talent management.

Simply put, people want to be seen and valued. Aspiring professionals want to grow towards their own chosen objectives and be able to objectively measure their growth. They want to “be someone” at work, not just to
“do stuff”.

An organisation that provides a framework for their employees to grow, develop themselves according to their own priorities enhances the chances of retaining key talent, thus avoiding the expenses of recruitment and training, not to mention the pressure often placed on other team members in the interim.

Professional Identity for Teams

With employee engagement at an all time low and over 60% of workers experiencing some form of work related burnout, it’s clear things are less than ideal. How then is Professional Identity different from traditional approaches to talent-development?

Talent Development & Growth

In a dramatic reimagining of L&D, Professional Identity is less about the skill-set an organisation wishes to accrue and more about the identity that an individual wishes to develop. What do they want to grow towards? How do they see themselves developing? What insights does this bring to the customer world?

A deeper understanding of themselves affects how and what they choose to learn. By improving the self-worth of individuals we’ve seen countless times how they worry less about themselves and shift their focus to better understand their clients and the business ecosystem they inhabit.

professional identity for teams

Team Cohesion

When team members value each other’s strengths, they more effectively relate to one another, avoid potential conflicts and boost team cohesion. However, for a variety of reasons, people have difficulty expressing their strengths. For example, to say, “I’m organised”  or “I’m creative” can mean different things to different people.

Professional Identity supports individuals in a process of reflection: to understand where their strengths lie and turn those strengths into insights that others can relate to. The team dynamic, therefore, evolves as members understand each other better and know who to turn to with specific issues.

Employee Engagement

Most professionals innately believe that, “If you look after me then you will earn my engagement.”  They want their welfare to be cared for, to have a healthy work/ life balance, to develop their careers etc..  However, employers often believe that “We expect you to focus on your work, we pay you well, so that should be enough.”

Professional identity re-imagines motivation based on intrinsic values, rather than the usual extrinsic motivators such as perks, bonuses and promotion-pathway. When an organisation explicitly develops individual identity, it demonstrates engagement in tangible action. This counts as a significant plus in the psychological contract between organisation and individual.

“A worker’s self-image as jobholder and her ideal as to how her job should be done,
can be a major incentive in itself”

Identity and the Economics of Organizations
(Akerlof & Kranton, 2005)

Professional identity is a means to raise the value of HR work

Professional Identity is a game changer at all touchpoints along the employee journey. Starting at the very beginning – recruitment. Without exception, every organisation we have worked with on professional identity has embedded a clear message into their recruitment campaigns: “we develop your professional identity” Why? Because they have found that this is exactly what their recruits are looking for. As a result, these organisations are attractive to work for.

Nobody wants to be hired as just another “human resource”. Today’s professionals are seeking development in their own right, so the message “we develop your professional identity” is exactly what they want to hear. Of course, they want organisations to follow-up on that promise.

A deeper psychological contract

If organisations recruit talent based on extrinsic rewards (pay, conditions, perks etc.), then they invariably attract candidates who are motivated by those extrinsic rewards, who will leave the moment someone offers them more attractive rewards.

But if you attract candidates based on developing their Professional Identity – and genuinely follow-up on that promise – you are offering something much deeper. You are offering intrinsic rewards: roles that will develop their identity. This attracts people who are intrinsically committed to you, not just to the perks.

Consequently when the agreement between employee and employer is founded on a deeper psychological contract you can raise the bar of employee engagement and retention.

Could Professional identity be the next step of your talent-development evolution?

If you feel inspired by what you’ve read so far, and would like to find out more about working together to revive the motivation, cohesion and engagement of your team, then let’s talk.

Contact Us

Please take a moment to fill out the form, briefly telling us about your organisation, the methods you have employed until now and where you hope to go from here. Or alternatively click on the button below if you’d prefer to have a conversation face to face.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Organisations we have worked with
as seen in - logos