What is a personal development plan?

What is a Personal Development Plan? (PDP)

Personal: individual, own, unique, special
Development: learning, growth, advancement
Planning: Getting it on paper, preparation, structure, measurement

A personal development plan provides a process to incorporate your needs with the needs of your organisation.

  • It provides opportunities to think in the mid term
  • It allows a thoughtful and structured approach to organising development experiences.
  • It is a useful tool for project managing your self development.

    It is a continuing cycle of planning, implementation and reviewing that is mutually beneficial to you and your organisation.

    According to Corporate Leadership Council research completing an personal development plan is the second most effective method (after a challenging role change) of developing yourself or your employees.


    Sounds fantastic!


    Unfortunately the CLC research also tells us 65% of employees get little or no value from their personal development plans.

    So does that mean that the chances of your personal development plan being very effective are about 1 in 3?

    Don’t worry we are here to help


    Leopard learning will provide you with some opportunities to think and tips and tools to help you project manage your own learning


    The basic scheme for managing your own development is pretty simple;


    1. Know yourself better than anyone else
    2. Know what is required now and in the future
    3. Learn how to get there and how to add the necessary skills and knowledge
    4. Do it now, don’t wait


    When to Develop a personal development plan

    Timing can be an issue; you may be forced to stick to a 6 monthly or annual organisational timetable as part of the annual business planning process.If you are not then chances you may want to develop an PDP in these circumstances:

  • You may be new to a role
  • Your role is demanding and you need to develop fast
  • You may have set your sights on your next role and want to get moving
  • You have just participated in a 360 feedback or Development Centre process
  • You just want to be as good as you can be in your current role
  • You are required in your profession to show evidence of continuing professional development


    Completing a personal development plan can be a great reflective exercise allowing you to think through some of the “big stuff” like:

  • What do I want to achieve in my career?
  • What is my next step?
  • Where am I now?
  • What new skills and experience do I want and or need?
  • What decisions do I need to make now to get the future I want?

    So who needs to pay the most attention to your development plan?


    Who is the most interested?
    Who has it as the highest priority?
    Who has the most to gain or lose?
    We believe it is you


    So why do many people find creating a personal development plan so difficult?


    Managers struggle with three things
    1. time commitments,
    2. training and know how
    3. Tools and support


    Employees struggle with three things
    1. time commitments,
    2. training and know how
    3. Tools and managerial support

    Find out more about how to get personal development planing working

    Find out more about individual development plans here

    How To Create A Great Personal Development Plan

    personal development plan

    Definition: A great plan is one that gets you into focused action and reflectionIt doesn’t have to be prettyIt doesn’t have to be 10 pages longIt doesn’t have to be full of bull****

    What it needs is these 5 steps to a great personal development plan.


    1. Focus


    Always start with the end in mind so I recommend you focus on your motivations and your organizations.


    You What are your reasons you want to develop.What are the benefits for you in developing?How committed are you to making an effort?


    Your organisation
    What are the goals of the organisation?
    How do these goals impact on your role?
    Review your job description and any competency models that apply to you


    Don’t understand the company’s goals then how can you possibly work to help the Company achieve these goals? You did want promotion didn’t you?Find out or ask somebody and get clear how the goals relate to your particular role.Still not sure? Then arrange a chat with your manager they will probably thank you for the conversation.

    2. Self

    This is about being self aware about where you are right now.It is a critical step because we all have blind spots about our own performance and find it hard to look at ourselves objectively.Take a realistic view of your own abilities and assess your strengths and areas you think need development.

    You can do this formally by:
    Taking part in a 360 or peer feedback process
    Completing a batch of psychometric tests and personality questionnaires
    Attending a Development Centre

    You can do this informally by:
    Writing down your strengths and weaknesses
    Asking others for feedback
    Doing a self assessment against a competency model
    Reflecting on previous feedback you have been given.

    Read more about awareness in brain based learning here

    3. Opportunities

    Identify your development needs by comparing your current skills and strengths with those needed for your career choice.

    Identify for yourself what you should STOP, START and CONTINUE doing.

    Should I develop strengths or weaknesses? The answer could be both, try and identify those things that would have the greatest positive impact for you.


    Still not sure?
    Have a break for a day or two and then go back to your notes
    Get some more feedback
    Find a Mentor or a Coach to talk this over with and help you get clearer.

    Do not move on the next step until you are clear.

    Review your priority areas and write down what you want to achieve in each area.
    If you moved forward in this area what would it look like and how would you know? What would the results be for you and your business?


    4. Plan

    From all the research and studies on development there are 6 key sources of growth


    1. A job change to a more challenging role
    2. A developmental task while in a current role
    3. Role models, coaches and mentors
    4. Feedback
    5. Courses and Reading
    6. Personal learning and reflection


    See what might be available internally and useful and supplement with a bit of external research.Try and identify multiple sources of learning for yourself don’t default to “training course” mode.Put things into logical sequences depending on what’s happening in your organisation and what you feel like doing first. Be realistic about your commitments. Discuss your draft plan with your manager, get them on board and try and refine your plan further.


    5. Action and Reflect

    Well done you have done some great thinking and probably learned thing or two on the way.But it is all for nought unless you do something differently and think about it afterwards.This action and reflection habit (see more about this in brain based learning) is the basic engine of all learning.Schedule time in your diary months ahead in order to check in on your personal development plan and consolidate your learning.
    Do change your plan as you go, remember planning should provide you with flexibility not a strait jacket.


    The very best of luck with your planning

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    Find out more about getting personal development planning working

    Additional Resources

    Interested in learning 15 practical, business tested, self improvement skills that will benefit your freedom, choice and personal development. Learning the self help method, programmes you for success and develops your power and communication skills. For more information check out I choose self improvement.com