What is a personal development plan?

Today I’m going to share the benefits of a personal development plan at work. We’re a couple of weeks into the new year now, and maybe your new years resolutions have already faltered. At this point in the year at my job we’re starting to prepare for full year appraisals that reflect on our performance over the past 12 months and prepare for the 12 months ahead.

To do that we always plan task related goals: what work do I want to complete over the next 12 months. These objectives are easy to make smart – specifically what do I want to do, and by when? However, my favourite part of goal setting is the behavioural goals: how do I want to do it? What skills do I need to learn to help me be more effective? This is the gold dust in your personal development plan.

Why do I need one?

I think that this is really relevant for 2021 as we’ve seen just how unpredictable life can be. 2020 was full of pivots, redirections and reprioritising (i.e. complete business u-turns). As I reflect back on 2020, almost none of the things that I planned to do in the year have actually happened, because pretty quickly priorities changed so dramatically that what we thought would be needed wasn’t. But what I have been able to do – to make sure that I’m still learning and achieving things – is to focus on the HOW I’ve delivered my new goals. I have made sure that my team are well informed about changing priorities. I have made sure to over index on building relationships with the people that I need help from because everything is harder over zoom or email and open to misinterpretation. And I have had to work hard on my communication skills when it’s harder for people to read non-verbal cues or body language when we’re not all sitting around the desks in the office.

The personal development plan addresses the HOW rather than the WHAT. Let’s look at an example:

Objective (what): Create a report showing how department profitability is influenced by the mix of products sold on a weekly basis.

More importantly (how): Engage report users by seeking input before I start building it. Identify which digital product is most useful by learning from technical experts about how I will need to manipulate the data. Influence business users to actually use the report and make decisions off the back of it.

The how is where the magic happens… The how is where I get people to actually change their behaviours and is the human element to my job.

I should caveat that I’ve previously written a post about why personal development is a waste of time. I still believe that. Personal development for it’s own sake can be a waste of time. But if you have a plan to use what you learn then it can be really valuable. If you like this, read on to my next post on how to write a personal development plan.

If you enjoyed this post then make sure you sign up to our mailing list so that you never miss another post:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *