Tips to kickstart your perfect Personal Development Plan

Personal Development Plan

Ongoing development and awareness of a clear career pathway are both key factors for many employees when it comes to their engagement with an employer. With challenging times potentially ahead for the logistics sector, it’s more important than ever for employers to retain their valuable talent. That’s why it’s a great time to ensure that you and your employees have the right development plans in place.

Not sure where to start with creating Personal Development Plans (PDPs)?

First, stop, and reflect

It would be easy to download a PDP template from the internet and start filling it in, but it’s important to do some self-reflection or self-assessment first. Skipping this step will make the PDP less effective, as well as a more difficult process to complete.

Start by considering some key questions:

  • What do you like or dislike doing? – There will always be some tasks that you prefer to do over others, but if you are thinking of a career change or moving to a different job role, then this is an important area to focus on so that you can ensure you’re fulfilled and happy in your new role.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? – There is always a case to try and work on improving your weaknesses, but this doesn’t have to be the focus. Maybe it is more important to maximise your strengths instead and become even more highly skilled or expert.
  • What do you want to achieve? And how you will measure your success? – It’s important to consider how you want things to be different going forward and how you will know when you’ve progressed. Also, to consider how this will improve your performance and what effect it will have on the business.
  • How do you want others to view you? – Thinking about your own “brand” is part of your personal development. You should consider the relationships you have with your stakeholders – so employees, customers, sector peers, line management, project management teams, senior leaders – and how these could improve.

The Johari Window

Another method for self-assessment is a very well-known and popular model (in the world of HR) called the Johari Window.

This technique encourages you to consider what is/isn’t known to yourself and what is/isn’t known to others and has a four-box window – one of which is the Arena. This is what people can easily see and what you like to share about yourself.

The aim for your personal development journey is to get as many things as possible into the Arena, with less in the other boxes – the Blindspot, Façade and Unknown.  To do this you may need to share more skills openly, embark on some self-discovery, or ask for feedback, to discover what others see in you, that you may not be aware of. Which leads us to the need for 360-degree feedback.

How to gather 360-degree feedback

The purpose of this is to gather the thoughts and perceptions about you from your stakeholders to help guide your development journey.

For instance, if you’re looking to move into a certain management position, there may be key skills needed to do that. Through the 360-feedback process, you could ask people how they think you perform in those areas, whether that’s delegation, time management, communication, or anything else. Or maybe you want to see how people think you are performing against certain business objectives, such as customer service, communicating change, working as part of a team etc.

Before embarking on collecting feedback, it’s good practice to check with management that they are comfortable with this. Explain why you want to do it and why now, what business problem this may help to solve, what makes this important to you and what outcomes you want to achieve.

You could do this with face to face conversations, via email or preferably via an anonymous online survey (there are many free tools for this out there) or paper questionnaire. However, a good feedback survey will:

  • Not be too time consuming and long as to put people off – be selective with questions and set a deadline for responses
  • Have well structured questions so they are answered in the manner you intend
  • Be tailored to different people depending on their role (if relevant)
  • Encourage people to be honest
  • Be anonymous where possible, and should not have an impact on your relationships with any stakeholders
  • Link to your particular objectives, projects, or key soft skills

In general, 360-degree feedback can be a great thing to implement business wide to create a culture of honest feedback and to put ownership in the hands of the individual. However, rules should be communicated to ensure this process is treated with maturity and guidance on how to provide constructive feedback can be helpful.

SWOT analysis

After you have asked questions of yourself and gathered feedback from others, you can start to do some further assessment.

A good place to start is with a SWOT analysis. This works just as well for an individual as it does for businesses. To recap:

  • S is for Strengths
  • W is Weaknesses
  • O is for Opportunities
  • T is for Threats

You should have by now identified your strengths and weaknesses it should be simple to write a list of these under the relevant heading. However, the more challenging, yet most useful part of completing a personal SWOT analysis, is the opportunities and threats.

Opportunities will help you identify where you could go, what trends you could take advantage of, what you could capitalise on. In threats you should consider what could happen if you don’t maximise your strengths, improve the weaknesses and grab hold of the opportunities. What’s coming up that could get in the way? Keeping threats in mind can help to motivate you and push you to continually develop.

The Personal Development Circle

You may find that a SWOT analysis doesn’t work for you. In that case, you may prefer to map things out with a Personal Development Circle.

Choose four key areas of development – these should be bespoke to you. For instance, your character, profile, knowledge, and skills. You could also look at this with the 4 P’s in mind – People, Processes, Platform (Software and Systems) and Performance (against KPI’s/Objectives).

Once you have decided on your development areas and created your circle, start to write down some development actions to take against these.

Personal Development Plan

Personal Development Plan templates

Once you have completed the self-reflection, received and evaluated feedback, and considered all the outcomes, your assessment is complete. Next comes the really important part – creating your personal development plan! This is what will help you get that job or promotion. But remember, you can’t create an effective plan without the assessment phase first.

To enable you to take this next step, we have created a free resource download which contains example templates for Personal Development Plans. You can choose the one that works best for you and complete it to form the basis of your plan.

Download Personal Development Plan templates now.

Your development should never stop!

Remember, developing your Personal Development Plan is not a one off. You need to have support, follow up and reflection.

  • Reflect upon your learning experience, so remembering why you did it and what you have learnt
  • Think about how you have put theory into practice and put your learning to work
  • Improve the knowledge of your teams/peers by sharing your learning with them if you can

And don’t forget to measure the overall impact your learning has had on the work you do. So, at some point, go back to the self-assessment phase and do the whole process all over again so that your plan is up to date.

Watch Personal Development Plan webinar

To learn more on this topic and how to fill in our Personal Development Plan templates, watch a recording of our recent webinar.

And good luck!