Tips to Manage your Personal Development Plan


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Every employee should have a personal development plan (PDP). Managers can use PDPs to help employees reflect on their abilities and find opportunities to improve.

What is a personal development plan?

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It’s an official record of the skills your employee has and the skills they need to develop. It’s a framework to help them reflect on what they want to accomplish and how to go about it. For employees, it’s a source of discovery, inspiration and motivation.

For managers, PDPs can become the basis of performance appraisals. They inform overall goals and objectives, but they can also become a guide rope that keeps them focused on development.

How to write a personal development plan

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Your HR department will subscribe to a method of delivering PDPs, so they’re your first port of call for guidance, but you’re more than likely to use SMART goals.

  • Make a list of business objectives. Then, list what the employee wants to achieve. Look for crossovers.
  • Assign specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound benchmarks to each goal. Help your employee to understand what they’re aiming to achieve and how to achieve it
  • Put the goals in priority order
  • Acknowledge the barriers and explore what could get in their way.
  • Highlight the opportunities to learn

What to Include in a Personal Development Plan

Personal Development Plans will differ from person to person because they’re dependent upon an individual’s goal. Most PDPs, however, contain a list of strengths, weaknesses, areas of development and goals.  After you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and list your goals, make a list of the skills you need to reach your goals. Don’t forget to include ways you can develop those skills, like signing up for a continuing education course or learning a new software platform. When setting your goals, remember to make them SMART. The SMART goal method is an effective goal setting strategy that brings structure to your objectives, making them easier to achieve. If you’ve never used this method before, note that S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

  • Specific: Be specific with what you want to achieve. Instead of a vague goal like, “I want to make more money this year,” turn it into something more specific like, “I want to make 30 percent more money in the next 12 months.” 
  • Measurable: Make your goal measurable so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Include a specific number or date, so that you have something concrete to work towards. 
  • Attainable: Don’t set yourself up for failure. Set goals that are realistic and that you have full control over. For instance, “Getting a promotion” is heavily dependent on your manager.  
  • Relevant: Is your goal relevant to you? Will it help improve your career or quality of life? Look at the overall picture and be sure that your objective is relevant to you your long-term career objectives.
  • Timely: Every goal needs a date or deadline. Having a time-bound goal will help keep your priorities in check and tasks on track. When setting a deadline for your goal, be realistic. Can you really complete your task in 6 months, or is one year more attainable? 
  • Keep SMART in mind when writing a new PDP or updating your existing goals. And each time you complete an objective, replace it with something new that will keep driving you on to greater and greater success.

These are some useful tips to manage your personal development plan.

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