Use my personal development plan template to create meaningful personal development goals for your team. In this post I provide examples of individual personal development objectives that can help you create your plan and help your team create their goals.
What is a Personal Development Plan?
In simple words, a personal development plan (usually referred to as a PDP) is a management tool used by team leaders to align their group’s objectives with those of the company. A personal development plan is created when the manager meets with their team members and establishes goals that need to be accomplished that year.
Once created, the manager will meet with his or her team and review the personal development plan. This should happen every quarter, sometimes every semester in certain organizations. In the meeting, the manager will review team member performance based on the agreed upon goals.
The personal development plan will be used to establish individual goals as well as assess if the team member is accomplishing what has been agreed upon. It works very similar to a written contract between the manager and the team to help define clear deliverables and areas of improvement.
Having performance plan review meetings is a critical part of implementing personal development plans. If well implemented, PDPs can bring growth to the organization and to the individuals participating in the effort. In cases where there are long periods of time with no re-alignment between the manager and team, these meetings can bring some unpleasant surprises.
This template uses a minimalist approach, with a minimal amount of required information to build great performance development plans. Download your copy, share it with your team and have meaningful discussions. Try it yourself with your own performance goals. The template is also available in Spanish and Portuguese, upon request.
How to get the Most out of your Personal Development Plan Discussions
Personal development plans are yearly career plans that contain the employee’s goals and that are used to measure their individual performance throughout the year. Here is an example of how to implement personal development plans, based on my practical experience.
Creating Personal Development Plans
I am often asked how I deal with creating such plans for my team members. My answer is simple:
I strongly believe that development plans should first be created by the employee, not the manager. After employees define their goals, it’s then the manager’s job to align the employee’s goals with corporate goals.
This approach has several advantages.
First, employees will likely take stronger ownership of their goals. Second, it gives the manager an opportunity to discuss and address any eventual gaps between employee and company goals and, obviously, address them. Finally, it’s a good way to calibrate expectations between the employer and employee and to motivate employees by providing achievable, valuable goals that are beneficial both for them and the organization.
In addition to defining project goals in their development plans, I often instruct my staff to include a separate individual goal that relates to their personal development, such as improving a soft skill or enhancing a personal strength. This way they have a means to measure growth in their professional careers, as well as their performance when executing projects.
This approach has worked quite well in my career. After trying many different approaches to managing performance, this method was the one that produced the most positive results for both my company and the employees on my team.
One point to keep in mind is that the development plan can be part of a long-term career plan.
The clearer you make your development plan, the easier it is for you to evaluate opportunities and determine if you are progressing towards your long-term career goals. The personal development plan is an important and worthwhile investment.
A Practical Personal Development Plan Example
If you are looking for an example of how to create your own career plan, here is a suggestion on how to approach it. It’s my personal development strategy for my career.
Start From the End – State Your Long Term Goal
Instead of setting your immediate goals first, try starting with the end in sight. You need to be clear about where you want your career to be before trying to get there, so spend some time articulating where you want to be in five years. Hence, start with a long-term goal.
Long-term Goal: In five years, I see myself working as the master baker in our main bakery. Using the skills learned throughout my career, I would like to not only bake the best bread, but also the best cakes in town. To get to that stage, I need to improve my cooking skills, learn to use new equipment and learn how to bake different types of breads and cakes.
Your long-term goal is your final destination in five years and may change slightly from year to year. This goal relates to where you want to go in the organization.
Your long-term goals are completely yours and no one else has the right to say whether they are right or wrong – that’s your call.
It may take a few days to identify your true long-term goal. It is a good idea to write it down, set it aside, let it rise during a good nights sleep and then check it again the next morning to see if it still makes sense.
Taking the time to clearly and concisely describe your long-term goal will save you considerable time when it comes to creating your other goals.
If your long-term goal is confusing, too complex or all over the place, your personal development plan will likely not fit together well. So, making your long-term goal clear and specific is very important.
Create Development Goals – What Do You Need to Learn
Next, you move into a more tactical level and specify goals for the coming year. It is time to identify the areas you need to grow in to achieve your long-term goal.
What tools do you feel would help you achieve your goal? What skills do you need to invest time in, in order to develop your goals?
Instead of creating a laundry list of things you can improve, think about your strengths and identify two to three things you can further strengthen to make a huge difference in your future success.
For instance, you may decide to become a better communicator, a better baker, a better singer, a better code writer, a better tester, as well as a better husband. But, if your development goals are all over the place like this, you won’t be able to excel in any of them.
At best, you will be “average” in each of those new skills. But you don’t want to be average, you want to be “great!” So, limit your development goals to two or three choices. Choose goals that build on your strengths. Choose wisely and have a clear plan for how these goals will impact your long-term goal.
Objective: Time Management – Develop my multitasking skills
Description: This year, I will develop my ability to multitask in order to work on multiple baking orders at the same time. By the end of Q2 2008, I would like to achieve this goal (1) by participating in a time management training course for cooks, (2) by reading a book related to time management and presenting the results to other cooks in the bakery and (3) by organizing myself so I can handle multiple baking orders at the same time. This goal is relevant to me because I would like to go back to school and, if I am better able to manage baking orders, I will be able leave the bakery on time to attend my evening classes. I will measure this goal by (1) the number of times an order was late, (2) feedback from customers about the quality of their orders and (3) the time it takes to complete the orders.(Just an illustrative example)
Specify Your Delivery Goals – Build Your Track Record
Next, build your project-related goals. This is where you identify the project deliverables and outcomes you plan to deliver throughout the year.
Again, focus on substance rather than quantity and group similar tasks into common topics. This approach will help you create relevant goals.
Objective: Delivery – Create ten new multigrain bread recipes.
Description: This year I will create ten new types of bread by developing new bread recipes that use different types of whole grains, such as wheat, rye, buckwheat, barley and oats. I would like to achieve this goal by the end of Q1 2008, providing our customers with samples of the new baked goods. This is relevant to me because I would like to become more creative in the kitchen and use more of the excess grains in the bakery for two years. I will measure my success in achieving this goal by (1) the number of recipes created at the end of the year (20%), (2) customer feedback regarding satisfaction with the new bread recipes (20%) and (3) the amounts of each type of leftover grains included in the new bread recipes (60%). (Just an illustrative example, you get the idea.)
Put It All Together
Once you complete your development plan, step back and examine your goal titles. If they fit nicely together, congratulations, you have created a coherent plan!
> In five years, I see myself working at the downtown bakery as master bread baker and be the best baker in town.
Development Goals for This Year:
> Time Management: Develop my multitasking skills
> Knowledge Management: Learn to use foreign condiments & spices
Delivery Goals for This Year:
> Delivery: Create ten new multigrain bread recipes
> Delivery: Reduce the number of customer complaints regarding product quality
> Delivery: Bring three innovative ideas to the bakery owner
Validate Your Goals
When you reach this stage, you are ready to meet with your manager, identify any gaps in your plan and align your goals with the company goals. Most likely, some of your goals will change, but once you validate your goals with your manager, you will know that they are relevant and will make a difference to both you and the company.
Throughout the year, always remember to check your plan (at least once every quarter) to make sure things are still in sync. Keep your plan updated and you will be pleasantly surprised with the effect on your career.
Finally, let me know your thoughts on how you deal with development plans for your team. As always, comments are welcome.