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How to Create a Professional or Personal Development Plan for Employees | PDP | Personal SWOT

If you are an employee and career minded, you need to have a development plan in place. If this is something you would like to have but not sure where to start from, look no further as I share top tips as to how to create one.

What is a personal or professional development plan or PDP?

Personal or professional development plan ('PDP') is a career planning process that consists of establishing aims and objectives (or goals), i.e. what you want to achieve or where you want to go, in the short, medium and long term. You really need to focus on your career to date, assess your current realities and aspirations, identify needs for skills, knowledge or competence selecting appropriate development activities to meet those perceived needs or gaps.

Personal or professional development plan is usually understood as a cyclical process, where improvement comes from moving around the loop. We all need to take personal responsibility for renewing and updating our skills and knowledge throughout our working lives. It is a continuous lifelong process of nurturing, shaping and improving skills and knowledge to maximise effectiveness and ongoing employability.

Personal development does not necessary imply you are always after a higher grade and promotion, it is really about enabling individuals to improve their performance and reach their full potential at each stage of their career.

Undertaking Development at Work and Outside Work | 70:20:10 model

This can be achieved through training, shadowing a colleague at work, secondments, job rotation, project work, networking, community or volunteering involvements.

Please note that you are responsible for your learning and your personal success will depend on your motivation, how you approach learning and focus on your success in the longer run.

Some suggested verbs to consider when drafting your personal or professional development plan:
  • Adapt - Achieve - Apply - Arrange

  • Build - Balance

  • Change - Collaborate - Communicate - Complete - Contribute - Create

  • Define - Decide - Deliver - Demonstrate - Design - Develop - Determine

  • Encourage - Enhance - Establish

  • Facilitate - Focus

  • Guide

  • Identify - Implement - Improve - Increase - Influence - Inspire - Investigate

  • Launch - Lead

  • Maintain - Manage

  • Reduce - Resolve

  • Straighten - Survey

I am currently developing a few templates that you will be able to download, however for now, please focus on below sections when drafting one:

  • What do you need to develop or learn? - What skills, knowledge or behaviours do you need to develop?

  • What do you have to do? - List all of the activities (to do list) that you will undertake to achieve your objective.

  • What resources and support do you need? - Who and what will you need in place to complete your to do list?

  • How will you measure success? - What will success look like? What will help you evidence successful outcomes?

  • Target date for review

Personal SWOT Analysis - What is it?

I also suggest that you consider doing a personal SWOT analysis. If you are not sure what SWOT analysis is, it tends to be used a lot in the business world where organisations try to analyse their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Try to look at your yourself from an external perspective - what would others say about you?

Highlight your development needs in your draft professional or personal development plan. What themes are beggining to emerge? What skills or knowledge do you need aquire or improve? What gaps do you see?

  • What professional qualifications you have that make you stand out?

  • Can your expertise in some area make a difference to the organisation?

  • What projects have you completed successfully?

  • What do others think your strengths are?

  • What are you not so good at?

  • What bad habits do you have?

  • What tasks do you usually avoid doing?

  • What do you need to improve?

  • What other traits do you need to be more efficient?

  • What do others think your weaknesses are?

  • What trends do you see in your professional area?

  • How can you get noticed/raise your profile?

  • Are there projects you could join which will benefit your career?

  • What obstacles do you face?

  • Who/what may get in your way?

  • Are your personal traits hurting your career advancements?

  • Is technology changing your professional field?

  • Are you marketable/credible?

I hope you have found this blog useful.

If you cannot do this on your own, I suggest that you look for a career coach who should be able to help you draft a personalised development plan. I also offer 1:1 Upgrade Yourself | Career Coaching sessions which you can book HERE.

If you have any questions, please sign up as a member/subscribe to my website below and/or send me an email on You can also find me on Instagram at @yourself.focus, Facebook at @focusyourself and Twitter @YourselfFocus

Best wishes


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