What is a Personal Development Plan?

Good question you may ask. Where on earth do I start with a personal development plan?

Well the good news is it well may have been done for you. Remember the HR Appraisal form? Well that is your company development plan and in all fairness that very well may suffice for now. Worry not, I will take you through it, but, before we begin you need to do some homework:

The Basics

  • Contact HR and request a copy of your personal development plan or PDP.
  • Is this completed every 12 months? If so request at least a 3 month review – how do you know your on track if its reviewed at the 11th hour on the 31st December?
  • Ensure that you get a copy of the PDP guidelines to complete the plan.
  • Pencil in the dates with your direct manager for the year. Yes, you request the dates, you’ll be amazed at the response.
  • Then reflect……..what do you want to achieve?
  • Reflect again…….what is the most important goal for the business and your department?

Ultimately, the personal development plan will consist of a number of factors which in turn may have some direct influence on your bonus. These will consist of completed projects, KPIs & your major and minor goals for the financial year. In addition it should also contain what training you require to meet those goals. Its your PDP so ensure that you are 100% focused on the document. If you need further training do not be afraid to ask for it. IT IS NOT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS.

How to Complete the PDP

Once you get the PDP from HR ensure that you fully understand the mechanics of it. I have managed a great deal of PDP’s and the employee turns up for the meeting and they haven’t taken the time to complete it. Its your career plan…..your development plan so please take ownership of it. Now ensure you are mindful of the following pointers to a good PDP:

  1. Spend a good hour prior to the meeting to outline your Goals. Complete in pencil….as it will change…trust me on that one.
  2. Good quality personal development plans should have no more than 4 goals – anymore and you will feel swamped and demotivated. Some companies may have more……present your case!
  3. One goal should be personal / three goals business objectives.
  4. Personal goal – what big issue will prevent you from hitting your business objectives? Mine was understanding finance! I went on a finance course!
  5. Present your case for the 3 business objectives. Your manager may have a differing view. No problem. Discuss it through. One point for sure ……he/she will be impressed that you have taken the time to prepare and you have thought through the process.
  6. Agree the times lines for review and ensure those dates are cast in steel!

But I Don’t Have One?

A personal development plan example is shown here:

personal development plan template

© Follow The Leader 2020

You can download the personal development plan template for free.

More importantly than ever take time to reflect and make sure that you are mindful of these 6 good signposts:

  1. Set yourself SMART goals
  2. Be ambitious but not ludicrous – they are your goals! I repeat they are your goals.
  3. Include the deadlines but don’t be afraid at pushing deadlines back if you have too.
  4. Recognise that the paths may change. If you have to reset…..RESET! But agree with your manager.
  5. Who can help me in achieving these goals? I don’t care who they are….ask them. Get buy in.
  6. Measure!

The Importance of a PDP

All PDPs should be simple. Brief to the point. This is not War & Peace….why would it be? The crucial point is you have a plan. Here are some of the past comments I have heard as a manager when I have circulated the personal development plan example to my direct reports:

Pointless……..who reads it?

I can’t find last years….can I write it again?

No I haven’t completed it……should I have? I thought you did it?

How do I check if I have completed this years objectives?

and my overall favourite:

……but I missed 3 of the 4 objectives…..can we say I did them then I will get my bonus!

Now remember the PDP is only valuable if you review it and act on it in a timely manner. Most employees complete the dreaded form & it disappears until the equally dreaded day of review. But you’re not like that are you? No…..you’re on the ball…on point and if managed and measured you will achieve the goals that you have agreed with your team on the bus in the right seats. Tickets please!

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