Personal Development Plans: scale the heights of your

Ever felt like your career is hanging on for dear life? Som Jandu explains how a well-considered and carefully implemented Personal Development Plan can spur you on and help you reach the top.

THAT TIME OF YEAR is upon you once again. Having had your yearly appraisal, it is now time to move on to the discussion about your Personal Development Plan (PDP).

Over my years of conducting Performance Appraisals and PDPs, I have often found that many people get quite anxious and unsure of what exactly to put into their PDP, and even how to write it and fill it in effectively. To compound this, individual line managers often have their own perception and experience of how to complete a PDP, and so variance often arises even within the same organisation.

This article will outline just what Personal Development Plans are, and how they benefit you as an individual, your line manager and your organisation. It will also include guidance on exactly how to complete your PDP using a generic template that can be adapted or embedded into most company formats.

You must remember that since your PDP is ultimately about your own personal development, you must take full ownership for its compilation, content and tracking, albeit with guidance and support from you line manager.

Who benefits from your PDP?

Your PDP has different benefits and outcomes for you and your career, your line manager and your organisation as a whole:

Benefits for you and your future career:

It enables you to learn new capabilities, skills and competencies in your current role, or to strengthen an existing capability via further exposure and experience. It allows you to learn new capabilities for the next step in your current role pathway (e.g. from Medical Rep to Senior Rep) that you have not yet acquired, or to fill any gaps between your existing competencies and those required according to your company’s competency framework.

You can learn, develop and practice new skills and knowledge to prepare you for another role, a promotion or secondment to another department.

Benefits for your line manager:

He or she has a continuously improving team, raising the bar on all levels for excellence in role, competence in role and business improvement overall. Which translates into retained staff, who feel valued, motivated, believed in and supported to improve.

Which results in reduced employee turnover, greater satisfaction amongst employees (often measured by Climate Surveys) and a real feeling of being valued and developed.

Benefits for your company overall:

There is increased motivation, development of the skills base and retention of staff.

It provides an internal “talent pool” to grow with the company, allowing effective succession planning and career development to match individual skillsets with future vacancies and new roles as the organisation develops.

It results in a dynamic, constantly improving organisation, with employees empowered to stretch

Area for development Why this development is needed What will I be able to do as a result of this development What steps need to be taken & by whom By When & Whom
Hospital Account Work To fulfil the competency profile of GP/Hospital Rep Successfully plan, make appointments and relationships with key departments to increase hospital sales or referrals Me: to have Hospital Rep training
Day out with Hospital Rep
RBM: to follow up training and monitor
RBM, next FV
Me within 3 weeks and 1 a month for 3 months
Marketing Knowledge To enable me to apply for the marketing secondment next year and my aspirations as brand manager Have a theoretical understanding of marketing and the marketing mix
Feedback into current and new campaigns
Me: to enrol on CIM Diploma
RBM: to put me forward as Product Champion and field tester for new materials
Apply for secondment
April ‘07
ABM, Next planning cycle
Me, supported by boss in ‘07

themselves and take ownership of their own career development. There is reduced employee turnover and strengthened company culture and values. It is a great marketing tool and employment factor to encourage new people to join the organisation.

Putting your PDP together

To keep your PDP achievable and manageable, I suggest you limit your areas to no more than three. For example:
1. To develop a lagging or absent skill to prevent failure in role.
2. To improve an area to ensure/maintain excellence in role.
3. To develop a knowledge/skill or competency for another role.

Keep it SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed

•First, gain agreement and support from your boss on what specifically you need to develop (Specific).

•Then agree why the development is needed; this may be to gain a new competency for a current role or to develop skills/knowledge/competency for a future role. Keep in mind how your manager/company stand to gain too. Think “win:win”, as Stephen Covey states in the ‘7 Habits of Highly Successful People’ (Specific).

•Agree what you will be able achieve/do as a result of the development and how you know you will have successfully developed (Measurable/Achievable).

•Agree with your boss the necessary steps that need to be taken to develop you; this may be a series of actions by your boss (e.g. putting you forward for certain internal/external development & training/secondments etc), things you may have to do on your own (e.g. undertake a course) or mentoring by someone who already displays competence in what you need to develop (Realistic).

•Agree timelines for the stage(s) of development so you can both track, monitor and review your progress (Timed).

Contacts: Som Jandu is Managing Director of Redhunt Ltd, The Sector Specialist Recruitment Company. He can be contacted at


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