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personal professional development plan PDP

Writing a Professional Development Plan

What is a Professional Development Plan?

A Professional Development Plan is widely known as an Individual Development Plan or Employee Development Plan, is a record that helps you document all your prospective career goals and lets you set a strategy to achieve them.

Creating a PDP requires you to invest time and planning. It is a perfect tool to use for self-improvement. Working on your PDP will benefit you in multiple ways. Majorly in identifying and developing the professional skills required to achieve your future goals. It will also help you keep track of the progress and to attain successful results.

The whole process will not only help you recognize your potential but will also bring you closer to your goals. It will also contribute to your professional development. So if you have not already, this is the time you must think about your future goals and where do you want yourself in the coming years.

You must take account of your career and create a PDP.

Professional development is vital. Though it is a part of a performance review process at many organizations, doing this will help you steer clear of the goals that will prevent you from risking the job and help you evolve as a professional.

Creating and planning your own PDP can benefit you to set and accomplish long-term career goals. It also assists you in recognizing your abilities and the course of actions you need to take to reach them. Believe it or not but PDP can be your getaway to fulfill all your dreams.

Setting goals; be it long-term or short-term guides you throughout your career. It will assist you in identifying whether you wish to work on a complex project or need a particular job altogether. As you’ll have your plans structured, it will bring fruitful results. Here we will explain why PDP is crucial and how you can create one along with the example.

How to Write a Perfect Professional Development Plan?

There are nine vital steps that you can use to complete a PDP:

  • Analyze your current position
  • Find your career goals
  • Collect all the information
  • Recognize your skills & abilities
  • Assess how you will work to achieve those goals
  • Set a timeline and follow it judiciously
  • Make a note of everything
  • Evaluate your strategies time and again
  • Measure the growth and progress

1. Analyze your current position.

Are you making a progress in your career? Assess your current position and do some assessment like:

  • What you have done over the past one, two, or five years to contribute to your professional development?
  • Are you at the place you wanted to be at this point in your career?

If your answer is negative, say, ‘NO,’ you must consider creating a PDP. Even if that was not your answer, the PDP will only bring you closer to achieving your goals. It will help you do the right assessment regarding your plan of action and strategies.

Use your PDP as a tool to assess your plan of action, and be truthful to yourself. Also, you must take note of the actions taken by you that previously helped you or slowed down your professional development.

2. Find your career goals.

Where do you see yourself in the coming years? It might take some time for you to answer this. You should give it some time, do some self-assessment, and do not rush.

Here’s how you can recognize your goals and the questions you need ask to yourself:

  • What exactly is success for you? What does financial success means to you or a promotion or having your own business? You need to understand your meaning of success. So figure it out first.
  • What activities do you enjoy doing the most? Do you get to do it in your current job? If not, do you want to change this?
  • Do you feel successful in your current position or current job?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years or maybe the next 10 years? Now is the time when you must identify and set some long-term goals.

We know the process is not that easy, and so is setting your long and short-term goals. It is a process that demands time, and you might find this a lot to handle, but it is fine. But what you must keep in mind is that you need to dream big. It is because when you create your PDP, anything is possible.

But before you set your goals, you need to make sure they are SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

3. Collect all the information

To achieve your set objective, what professional skills you require? Once you are done with setting your short and long objectives goals, you must do some research to find out what should be your next step. Find out what skills you need to learn to ace your interviews and make you an ideal candidate.

Break your long-term goals into small manageable steps. In case, one of your long-term goals is to hold a position of Area Manager, then you need to strategize and plan what steps you will need to take to be there. These could be getting promoted to supervisor positions like Area Manager or Team Manager. Each one of these positions requires a different set of skills. So you must break it down into multiple small steps to achieve your future career goals.

To understand things better, you can also consider meeting your line manager as they are the right person who can brief you about the areas you are required to work on. They can also guide you on upcoming training opportunities available in the company. Understand the criterion for your dream job and enroll yourself in the workshops that help you gain the skills you need for your profession.

This step is vital as it can help you recognize the professional abilities and skills you need to come closer to your goals. It enables you to plan new learning and development opportunities related to your professional development.

4. Recognize your skills & abilities.

Now that you know what professional skills you need for your growth and career path, you must tick off the ones you are already good at. It is always good to know your strength. These, in, turn; help you distinguish what is holding you back from growing.

5. Assess how you will work to achieve those goals.

Moving on, here is the time when you must figure out what steps do you need to take to accomplish the goals. To be real, your professional development should be;

  • Job embedded.
  • Planned.
  • Constant and ongoing.

You can also consider attending workshops and seminars that your company is provided. Participate in formal CPD training (like business courses offered by High-Speed Training), or stay updated with the new technology related to your field.

You just need to adapt some strategic ways to grow the skills and remember that it is a continual development process and not something you can do in one day.

6. Set a timeline and follow it judiciously.

Deciding on a timeline is important as it motivates you to achieve a target at a fixed time frame. So make sure you set a timeline that works for you and follow your PDP actively. It will increase your chances of meeting the targets. Set your targets on yearly basis and make sure to give it the time it needs. Do not rush, and do not lose patience.

Through proper planning and setting up your professional development, you will not just achieve the goals, but it will also help you become the ideal candidate by the time of the promotion.

7. Make a note of everything

It is always wise to jot down important things, and that’s what you are required to do with your PDP. Make sure you update it and alter it as you go along. It will help you remember the strategies and steps you need to reach the goal.

Your PDP needs your time and attention. You can’t forget it after creating one. It is one such tool that you must follow regularly. There are many advantages of following Your PDP as it will help you keep a track of skills you have developed for the new position.

8. Evaluate your strategies time & again.

Before you rigorously follow your PDP, go through it. See if the plans and steps you have stated in it are ‘SMART’ as listed in the second step.

No matter how big your dreams are, you need to be realistic about your goals and targets to achieve them. Setting unrealistic goals will only lead to disappointment no matter how much you work on your PDP. So you must evaluate your goals to meet your targets and ensure they are achievable.

9. Measure the growth and progress.

Is the PDP working for you? Have you met any of your targets? Tracking your progress regularly is vital.

Keeping track of your progress is not just motivating but it will also help you measure your professional growth and progress. For the future, you can consider setting new targets, more manageable strategies, or some new goals if you want.

What you must keep in mind is that with time, your plan and goals change as well. And learning is not a short-term process. It is something that keeps on doing at every point of your life. So make sure you follow a PDP to ensure your career success and professional development.

What are PDP goals?

PDP goals are what to aim to attain by means of your professional development plan. Fulfilling these goals may require other objectives and steps along the way, while the goals themselves are subjective and differ from person to person. You can have an overarching goal and many contributory goals facilitating it. A primary goal might be to achieve a certain position, reach a certain income level or establish your own business. The goal could be purely professional and related solely to your career or be related to your personal aspirations.

How to make PDP goals and set a plan

If you desire to set your own professional development goals and formulate an effective plan, consider the steps listed below:

  • Identify your motivations
  • Think about possible career pathways
  • Assess your current skills
  • Set milestones
  • Be consistent and celebrate success

Example of professional development goals

Victoria is a financial assistant willing to retire early. Her main considerations are financial security and independence in the long term. She realizes that what’s important for this is a lot of hard work and saving before retirement. To attain this, she wants to maximize her income and minimize expenditures. She identifies different types of training opportunities and certifications making it easier for her to quickly attain more senior positions with higher pay.

She is aware of the fact that knowledge of investment is going to be beneficial to both her career and prospects for early retirement. Therefore, she identifies learning and training opportunities that are to enable her to become an investment consultant within a set number of years. She fixes a budget for herself to spend and then identifies saving and investment options for the rest of her money. In addition, she considers that financial consultants can work independently, meaning she might have work opportunities after retiring, but she could choose when to work because she’d already be financially independent and secure.

GUIDE to the COMPLETION of A What is a Personal Development Plan?

The objective behind creating a personal development plan is to record the process of personal growth, self-assessment, as well as acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses. It is undoubtedly the best tool that one can use for self-improvement. The entire idea of this is to help you understand the importance of the leadership and management training you have undergone and to consider your future leadership development.

What does it require you to do?

We have provided an example of a perfect PDP at the end of this guide with all the requirements outlined for help. The task is considerably easy and does not take much time to complete. It is highly beneficial for assessing your leadership development. It allows you to do some introspection of your recent experience and help you to pay attention to the upcoming stage of your training and development. You need to follow these three stages as listed below to create a PDF:

a. Stage 1 – Personal Analysis.

This stage is designed to assess your strengths and weaknesses. You will be able to analyze your career and the decisions you have made in various situations. It is followed by observing the opportunities and threats that may have been derived from those experiences.

b. Stage 2 – Setting Goals.

In this stage, you need to set fresh, measurable, and clear goals for yourself. The example listed below provides complete guidance on how to identify your goals. But for this, you will have to consult your superior; it could be your first line manager or first reporting officer.

c. Stage 3 – Personal Objectives.

You need to make personal objectives in this stage. You can make these objectives relevant to your civilian employment given in the example below, which will be beneficial in strengthening its value.


Example of a Personal Development Plan

Mr A is a 25 year old graduate working for a well-known mobile telecommunications company. He is 2 years into their graduate recruitment programme. He joined the organisation while at university and transferred to his current department following graduation. After a year he was encouraged to enter a managerial leadership and management development programme. He re-joined his department as a junior manager.

His employer is supportive and has been reasonably flexible and supportive in making allowances for the additional time off work to complete all the training modules.

Once properly qualified and with more experience, he is keen to take on more responsibility and be seconded to another part of the company.

The example PDP is set out over the following page -


Name: Mr A Department: Organisation: Date Personal Development Plan Completed:

Part 1 – Personal Analysis

Before setting your short medium and long term personal development plans, you should conduct a personal analysis: Eg - What are my strengths and weaknesses? What external opportunities or threats might affect any plans I might make?

Strengths Areas for further development

My personal administration in the company and basic skills are good and my detailed knowledge is generally sound for my level of training.

I gained confidence from proving that I could cope with the pressures of the L and M course, even with sleep depravation. I was assessed to be composed during practical work and provided clear direction.

Having the opportunity to lead a team over an extended period of time, I demonstrated that I have the ability to provide clear direction and manage people to achieve specific tasks whilst under pressure.

It was difficult to maintain the work/life balance and maintain my physical fitness standards during academic studies. As a result I have lost some physical fitness.

I need to take more time in planning a task thoroughly before briefing my subordinates. Ie provide the solution not present the problem. My understanding of the estimate planning process is still superficial in places and requires more detail.

In order to build my confidence in command I need more experience of team management in different scenarios.

Opportunities Threats

Demonstrate to my employer that I have had both structured management and leadership training and experience of leading teams to achieve specific tasks. Also to highlight that I have been exposed to a more structured approach to analysing problems which will assist me in providing clear solutions will be of value to the quality of my work for the company I work for.

This activity provides a space for renewal in a hectic business environment to achieve a better work life balance allowing me to be refreshed and more focused at work.

I can call on the support of my line manager to give me guidance on personal development.

The company formal annual appraisal process will provide a source of guaranteed feedback.

Balance work and personal commitments.

Part 2 – Setting Goals

What do I want to learn? What do I have to do? What support and resources will I need? How will I measure success? Target date for review?
Greater depth of knowledge of leading in the business external activities Complete M and L Course (4 weekends) Training and the company Young Managers (YM) development programme
  • 1. Regional Training Centre and YM Course Directing Staff.
  • 2. Finding 2 weeks for the YM could be difficult.
  • 1. Courses Assessment.
  • 2. YM Course Assessment report.
  • 3. Line managers

Appraisal Report (LMAP) including mid-year appraisal will assess performance and potential.

Post 31 Mar report
Get to know my department team and build their confidence and trust in me. Advice from my Line Manager and team feedback
  • 1. Formal and informal appraisal.
  • 2. Self-appraisal.
Post 31 Mar report

Identify key training opportunities in the Business Forecast of Events and de conflict with work and social life.

Because of YMs course I may not be able to engage in all business activities.

I will need to discuss and agree my priorities with my Line Manager.
  • 1. Prioritisation of goals forms part of my appraisal process.
  • 2. Ensure that I have attended all the agreed high priority training.
Post 31 Mar report
Widen my understanding of leadership. Learn from the more by observing experienced managers. Gain their friendship and trust. Senior colleagues. Mentoring and performance appraisal. During development programmes. Post 31 Mar report
Improve my personal fitness. Allocate specific evenings during the week for fitness training and allocate time at weekends.Develop personal fitness programme to improve fitness and stamina. Advice from Gym Fitness Instr Improved fitness levels will be self-evident.Improved Personal Fitness Test score. Quarterly Bi-annually Annual
Achieve core business skills. Complete mandatory organisation update training i.e. CPD Secure bonus benefits as appropriate 31 Mar annually
Build confidence in as a leader/management. Volunteer to lead ad-hoc cross functional projects to build credibility and experience as a leader Line manager Feedback from the team and the project sponsor. End of the project.
Improve planning/decision-making skills. Gain further experience of business analysis processes.Use this in a working environment to speed up and improve complex decision making. Use training opportunities and revision. Good YMs course report.

Part 3 – Personal Objectives

Short Term Goals (next 12 months)

Complete Young Managers Course in order to become eligible for engagement in complex business project activities. (I accept that some of these goals may slip into year 2 but no further).

Have accountability for a significant cross-functional project at work.

Medium Term Goals (next 2 – 3 years)

Be given responsibility for leading and managing a small team of in support of a challenging business project.

Engage in supporting some functions of a cross-functional project team which gives me significant business exposure.

Longer Term Goals (beyond 3 years)
Gain promotion to middle management and gain a support of work colleagues and senior managers. Be given responsibility for managing a large team of direct reports/ a number of teams (Work towards becoming a Head of Department).

Example of PDP

What are your long-term goals? What are your specific career goals? (Divide them down into individual, more manageable steps) What are the key skills needed for each one of your goals? What skills do you need to work on? What actions are you going to take? (What training opportunities are you going to take advantage of?) When are you going to complete your training by? (Set realistic timelines)
Promotion to an area manager position Become a team supervisor Leadership skills,communication skills. - Leadership skills
  • Online CPD leadership training course.
  • Company leadership course.
6 months
Become a team manager Leadership skills, project management skills,presentation skill, management skills.
  • Project management skills.
  • Presentation skills.
  • Management skills.
  • Online CPD project management training course.
  • Ask line manager what higher level responsibilities I can take on at work.
  • Volunteer to lead company meetings to build presentation skills
12 months
Become area manager
  • Management skills,
  • networking skills,
  • thinking skills,
  • self-management skills,
  • decision making skills.
  • Networking skills.
  • Strategic thinking skills.
  • Self-management skills.
  • Decision making skills.
  • Online CPD strategic-thinking training course.
  • Volunteer to go on networking sessions with line manager.
24 months

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