“People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want and if they can’t find them, make them.”
Daily I meet people from different professions that feel demotivated or they find it difficult to set future goals related to their professional growth. It seems that a vast majority of people, although talented, restless and ambitious, is confused about how to shape their future professional goals.
A vital component to direct individuals towards their professional growth is a personal development plan (PDP). A PDP, which is unique to the individual’s needs, enables people to identify key areas of learning and development, while it helps them reach their full potential at each stage of their career. Unfortunately, not everyone is self-aware of the areas that call for development. In fact, many people feel lost or they do not know how to start their PDP, although they are aware that a PDP will nurture and shape their skills, behavioral attributes, and knowledge.
How can someone create a comprehensive PDP for professional growth?
1. Set a clear and specific development objective.
When someone wants to make a plan, it is really important, irrespective of what he or she wants to achieve to have a really clear and specific objective. A clear and specific objective provides the framework for successful planning. It provides guidance and direction, motivation and inspiration, while it helps individuals to evaluate and control their performance.
Before starting setting a development objective, you need to think:
-What do you want to achieve?
-Do you want to move to a new position?
-Do you want to be better at the current job?
Once you establish these questions, it is imperative to have a SMART objective, which is:
Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
Achievable (agreed, attainable).
Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
2. Prioritize the objectives.
In some cases, we might have a lot of goals or objectives and we do not know where to begin. For some individuals, it can be challenging to identify which is the most important objective. Prioritizing objectives is often the most difficult part of the process. Thus, it might be useful to think some of the following criteria:
-Which of your objectives is critical to your current role?
-Which of your objectives is beneficial but non-critical to your current role?
-Which of your objectives is critical to your progress into a future role?
-Which of your objectives beneficial but non-critical to progressing into a future role?
3. Find the resources.
Resources are valuable to gain all the required support to accomplish the objectives or your goals. When you want to achieve a goal is really important to consider:
-How will you achieve your goal?
-Do you need any support?
-Does your company have the resources?
-Do you have the support of your manager, department or colleague to enable you to undertake a learning or development activity?
-What activities or actions will you undertake?
-Are you going to follow any formal training, or on-the-job training, or work-shadowing another colleague?
4. Set a clear deadline.
A PDP might fail if there is not any clear deadline that will determine the level of progress that the individual made. Deadlines are excellent opportunities to reflect on your learning, assess your progress, identify whether your development objectives need to be amended and to identify the factors that may have prevented you from achieving your goals on the target date. Moreover, a clear deadline will build in to enable you to meet your agreed target date in the future.
The two basic questions at this level are:
-How often will you review your PDP?
-How will you measure the progress?
Assuming that you undergo the personal development process annually, maybe you should review your PDP every three or six months.
5. Build an objective based on competences and passion.
Many individuals when they are thinking about professional growth and development plan, they are more concerned about the organizational needs rather than their needs. A PDP will not be successful and will not have any value if it does not reflect the actual areas that the individual is interested in or he is passionate about. For a successful PDP we need to focus on skills and abilities in which we naturally do well and can improve, but also on things that energize us and we love to do. A PDP will suffer if it does not represent our inner needs.
“Success is 20% skills and 80% strategy. You might know how to read, but more importantly, what’s your plan to read?”