Personal Development Plan
Whether you need to take on new challenges, keep on top of developments in your field or enhance your
performance at work, undertaking learning and development can help. By making sure you have the right balance of knowledge, skills and behaviors, you can achieve your goals and increase your job satisfaction.
Your development needs are unique and to make sure you progress in the way you need, it's worth thinking through your approach. The Learning & Development program offers a range of ideas and opportunities to help you develop. There are many other development opportunities in your workplace and outside. The step-by-step approach may help you arrive at an effective personal development plan.
Step 1: Identify
Identifying your development needs can be challenging. Often, we find ourselves looking at what training courses are available and deciding which of those would be most helpful. In fact, it is better to try and identify what the development need is and then to work out ways of meeting that need, which may or may not be a training course.
Annual Review is a great opportunity to discuss your development needs with your line manager. You may be able to discuss the changing requirements of your role, as well as your personal development aspirations (for example, career development). It is important that you have considered your development needs before your Annual Review meeting as this will enable you to make the most of your discussion.
There are three stages to identifying your needs.
Stage 1: Identify what skills, knowledge and behaviors are 'required' for you to do your job well.
- Review your current job description as it will list the things that you are expected to do, and the skills, experience, knowledge, and behaviors that you need to do that job well.
- Talk with your supervisor to determine areas of growth or where improvements could be made. Annual Review is a great time to do this but you can always raise the issue of development at any meeting with your supervisor.
- Think about the skills, knowledge and behaviors that you may need to develop in the future in your current job. Make a list of current and future skills, knowledge, and behaviors that you need.
Stage 2: Look at the skills, knowledge and behaviours you actually have now.
Look at the list you produced. Now ask yourself how effectively you match against each one. It's important to ask yourself some rigorous questions at this stage and answer honestly!
- Are there areas of your work, for example, where developing more confidence would make a real difference to your success in your job?
- Are there knowledge, skills and behaviours that you only need on occasion that would benefit from some development?
- Can you identify areas where you feel confident and believe you perform well that could be an even greater strength for you with some development?
Stage 3: Compare 'actual' with 'required' to identify the gaps. These are your development needs.
Try and be as specific as possible about what you need to do differently. This will really help you when you are deciding how to best address your development needs. It will also help you review and measure your success.
Step 2: Decide
Step 2 is deciding how best to address the development needs you have identified.
It's worth thinking about the practicalities, such as cost, timescales and the urgency of the development need at the outset. How much funding is likely to be available and what solutions are available and when, will all have a bearing on how the needs are met. If you are asking your department to fund the cost of your development, remember that your HOD will need to consider your request in light of budgetary restrictions and within the wider training needs of the department. This may mean that your preferred option may not be feasible in the short term so it might be helpful to consider a number of ways of meeting the identified development need where possible.
Also think about how you prefer to learn or how you learn best. For example, do you learn most successfully observing, trying things out, reading, listening, discussing, reflecting, researching or questioning? Think about the times when you have learned something successfully and try to identify what it was about the experience that helped you learn effectively. You might find it helpful to think about a time when you didn't learn well and compare it to a more successful experience to identify what it is that makes learning work for you.
Finding the Best Solution
Remember to start by identifying what it is that you need to learn. Try to be as precise as you can. What is it that you need to do differently? Make sure that the development you choose will result in the change you need. If you are thinking about a course, check the content and learning outcomes advertised and then review these against your development need. How well do they match?
Remember to consider all the options to make sure you don't miss the right opportunity. This may not always be a course or a formal training session.
Where to Go for Help
Learning & Development may not offer all the specific development you require. If you have considered all your options, are struggling to find a solution and need advice, then contact Carrie Herrig at carrie.herrig@UND.edu.
Step 3: Plan
By producing and recording a development plan, you are much more likely to achieve the goals you have set yourself.
Your Annual Review would be a good opportunity to produce or review your plan.
You may find the Personal Development Plan useful. You will need to consider:
What do I need to learn?
These are your development needs, the knowledge, skills or behaviours that you identified in Step 1 of this process
How will I do this?
These are the development methods or solutions that you selected in Step 2 of this process.
When do you aim to complete each activity? Prioritize the most important and consider what is manageable for you in terms of time commitment.
Step 4: Review
Reviewing and recording your progress means you can track your development. The Personal Development Plan is useful for recording what you have learned compared to what you planned, and will help you prepare for your Annual Review meeting, or apply for jobs.
You may also find that you develop skills, knowledge or behaviours that you didn't plan for, perhaps because new opportunities have come your way in your role. And don't forget that development can happen in informal ways such as reading, networking and on the job training. It's worth recording all of these on your Personal Development Plan too. In this way, your Personal Development Plan becomes a record of your ongoing growth and progression and celebrates your achievements.
Remember to make time to review your Personal Development Plan. As you complete learning, you need to start thinking about the process of planning your development again. Our work contexts are evolving all the time and this inevitably means that our roles and priorities change, with a resulting impact on our development needs. You may also have career aspirations that will encourage you to think about your development needs. Developing yourself opens up new opportunities for both you and the University.