Focus On Individual Development Plan, with a real-life career development plan example
A good individual development plan will help you achieve your potential as it will help you identify skills gaps and improvement areas. Call it an individual development plan, a career development plan or a personal development plan - whatever you fancy - you need to consciously think about your future in order to achieve your potential. Then you'll be able to get that job, go for that promotion, build your business further, or whatever you want.
The following article is republished, with permission, from the
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) student magazine
September 2006. Find out how one student fairs when challenged to
create their own career development plan (example included).
Swinton practices what she preaches. 'Setting goals has enabled me to be where I am now,' she says. 'I used to be focused on my own career, but I also wanted to spend more time with my husband and do something more interesting. My husband, who runs his own business, and I decided to travel and ended up spending some years in New Zealand. We sat down and discussed what our long-term strategy was and set goals for ourselves so that we could realise that strategy. In our case, we wanted to be able to work anywhere in the world. As a result, I set up Management for the Rest of Us, which I manage from Scotland - although this could be done in any country.'
Swinton believes that the goals you set for yourself need to be SMART - that is, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. She also believes that setting yourself between five and seven goals enables you to focus on and complete these more effectively. 'Once you have set your goals, write a PDP to help you to achieve them,' she explains.
'A PDP allows you to turn your dreams into reality. Break a PDP down into its parts: 'personal' means individual, own, special; 'development' means growth, improvement, advancement; and 'plan' - often the area that most people avoid - means structured preparation, ground-work, and scheduling.'
Writing a PDP allows you to work out how you will achieve your goals. You can also consider which direction to go. Before you start writing a PDP you need to work out where you are starting from. This, explains Swinton, becomes the 'baseline' from where you measure your progress. In addition, it is also a good idea, before you start to write a PDP, to get feedback from family, friends, and colleagues, in order to find out what others think your strengths and weaknesses are. Ask for constructive and specific feedback so you can find out what you are good at and where you could improve.
Once you identify your goals, you will have to create some areas for development in order to be able to achieve them. Swinton explains: 'Generally, your development areas will fall into two categories - building on existing strengths or developing new skills and competences.'
PDPs can be written using seven steps.
ACCA student Sarah Sharp, management accountant at Homewood Housing Association in Surrey, UK, agreed to use Swinton's guide and write her own PDP. Sarah read the advice on goal setting and put together a draft PDP which was analysed by Swinton.
This candidate has adopted a very structured approach, using both the PDP and goal-setting guidance together. I think this candidate is highly likely to achieve their goal. In the PDP, there is a comment about getting constructive feedback from her work colleagues and boss, which shows great self-awareness and recognition that other people can help you improve - it's not a lone journey. Also, I like the fact the candidate is planning to talk to her chief executive, because it is always good to be talking early to senior managers if that's where your career is heading. I'd be slightly concerned by the comment about revision timetables falling by the wayside, and would expect to see some more detail about what the candidate can do to improve on this.
'The whole process has been constructive from my point of view,' says Sarah. 'It has helped me to focus on the steps needed to achieve my goals, rather than looking at the end result, which can be quite daunting.'
Investing in your future
Identifying your goals and working out a plan to achieve them might take some time - but, Swinton believes, the process is incredibly satisfying. 'In addition to setting the goals you will achieve, the feeling that you have completed something worthwhile builds your confidence and boosts your self esteem.'
Useful development resources
Citation Information: Swinton, Lyndsay. " Focus On Individual Development Plan, with a real-life career development plan example." Mftrou.com. 14 December 2006. < http://www.mftrou.com/individual-development-plan.html >.blog comments powered by Disqus
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