After outlining the steps in the professional development plan, figure out what resources you’ll need for each one. It might be some reading material, or it could be an online webinar or class to attend. Some resources may come from other people. For instance, a mentor can be a valuable resource as they usually have more experience and real-world knowledge. When trying to break into a new industry or learn new skills, mentors can act as guides, helping others along the way.
How to Create a Personal Growth and Professional Development Plan
To create a personal growth and professional development plan, start by defining your results and motivation. Next, determine the required skills, perform a self-assessment and identify one area that needs attention. Finally, you can develop an action plan using the “SMART” goal-setting method.
Can you speak a second language? In a room full of professionals in your field, how many are great at public speaking or understand how to work across word processing platforms? Are you naturally great at reading people, but your ability to build workplace relationships needs improvement?
Personal and professional development are seen as distinct avenues of self-improvement, but the two go hand in hand. If you’re interested in creating a personal development plan or working toward personal growth, you’re likely to experience a pleasant side effect of learning new skills or strengthening abilities you already have – achieving your personal goals for work.
Professional Development Plan
A Professional Development Plan (PDP) is a valuable document that establishes both your career development goals and a strategy for meeting them. Whether you’re starting out in your professional career or reassessing your future development, a PDP serves as a useful roadmap that outlines strengths, areas of need, and available resources.
While writing a PDP is not an especially difficult task, it does require self-awareness. Fortunately, there are a number of easy steps you can take to ensure that the plan you establish is high-impact. These steps are not necessarily linear. Information gathered or decisions made at each step could cause you to reassess previous steps. Formulating a PDP, therefore, should be considered an iterative process.
In many instances, a PDP may be put together with the assistance of a manager or an HR department. It’s important to remember that a development plan should not be treated as an administrative task that’s filed away and forgotten after completion. The PDP should be used to hold yourself accountable for your own career trajectory.
Step 1: Where are you now?
Think about not only your current position and responsibilities, but also what you have done recently to further your professional development. Are you where you thought you would be at this stage of your career? If you are just starting out, how do you feel about your current capability and position? There are no right or wrong answers at this stage, only honest ones.
Feedback from recent assessments are a good starting point, and can often be used as the basis for an initial draft. Write down your thoughts and keep them close for easy reference throughout the rest of the process.
Step 2: Where do you want to go?
After establishing your current professional status, it’s time to identify where you want to be in the future. This is the time to think about how you define “success.” Remember that the purpose is to identify your motivations, not someone else’s expectations. This step may take time to complete, but it should be as thorough as possible. You can identify both short and long-term ambitions; this is the time to think big. Since these ambitions may change over time, you should revisit this step periodically and revise your plan if necessary.
Step 3: Gather information
Once you’ve assessed your current status and identified the path you want your career to take, it’s time to conduct research to gather information about how to get there. If you’re planning to advance to another position within an organization, this is a good time to find out what qualifications might be necessary for that position. Or if you want to pursue a career in a different field, find out what education, certifications or experience is required to make that transition.
Step 4: Set goals
After gathering information about what you want to accomplish, you can get to work establishing clear, actionable goals to help you make it happen. This could be a multi-step process, identifying several intermediary steps between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. When setting these goals, you should make sure that all of them are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) goals. This will make it possible to track your progress toward them over time. When you look at your goals, it should be very clear what your next steps should be at every stage of the journey.
Step 5: What skills and experience do you have?
Now that you’ve gathered information and established a clear set of goals to follow, you need to take stock of the skills and talents you already possess. Do you have any of the skills you will need to accomplish your goals? You may find that many skills you already possess are transferable, or can perhaps be utilized in a different way. Think about different ways your existing experiences can inform future opportunities. You may have more resources at your disposal than you realize.
Step 6: What skills and experience do you need?
After you’ve made an honest assessment of your current skills, you need to identify the remaining gaps. If you need additional skills to achieve your goals, how do you get them? Are they something you can only gain through experience or do you need additional education? In some cases, you may need to take on new tasks, such as managing a turnaround, leading a cross-functional team, or working on a committee. Once you’ve identified your existing gaps, you can begin making plans to fill them. This is a great time to compare your skill gap to the skills required to perform you current job or a job in the future.
Step 7: Identify possible resources
Just as you may possess a number of the skills and talents you already need, you may also have several resources at your disposal that can help you achieve your goals. If you need further skills training, for instance, you may be able to get it through virtual classes or micro-learning resources. Also, consider on-the-job activities like job shadows, stretch projects or leading meetings. Perhaps you have a relationship with a mentor or coach who can guide you through the process. This is the time to identify any possible resources and think about how you can leverage them to your advantage.