Personal Development Plan Part 2

Postby Lyndsay Swinton » Wed Sep 24, 2003 7:26 pm

Here we go with Part 2 of the Personal Development Plan postings. It's a big one, so grab a drink, put your feet up and read on...

Phase 1 – What’s Your Focus?

Where are you going?

You may have started this process with something specific in mind, or as a more general personal development process, either way, now is the time to consider where you are headed. What is it that you want to achieve? An easy question to ask but maybe, not so easy to answer.

In large organizations and companies, the personal development process is usually linked to goals and thinking in this way may help make things simpler. Goals are “what” you have to do, and it’s “how” you go about achieving them that we’re focusing on.

For example, if one of your personal goals is to raise healthy, happy children on a fixed budget, it will be useful to keep this goal in mind when you look at your personal development needs. You may be doing really well on the children front but your bank statement tells you that you have some improvement opportunities. Buying those educational books really helped your kids with their homework, but could they have come from the library instead of the pricey book-store? So, your personal development focus could be on financial management!

Generally your development areas will fall into two categories; building on existing strengths and developing new skills or competencies. In the previous example, your strength was in providing what is needed for your children and your gap was with your financial management ability. You would want to continue bringing up your children in the same way, and do something different so that you met your monthly budget.

Take some time to figure out your goals and write them down. Consider using the Project YOU Goal Setting Guide (which I will post soon). :D

Where are you now?

Before you start any kind of project, it is a good idea to get a clear picture of where you are starting from. This will become your “baseline” from which you will measure your progress. A good awareness of where you are now will really help with your development.

What kind of external feedback do you get? Your friends, family, work colleagues and other people you regularly come into contact with, are all affected by your behaviour and they will have their views on you. Some external feedback will be more objective and useful than others, and not all will be glowing! Now is the time to take stock of any feedback you have had and put it to your use.

Asking for feedback

If you are really struggling to think of any feedback, consider asking for some. This may be a scary thing to do, and you can make it less so by asking for feedback using one of the following models.

What am I good at?
What else am I good at?
What could I be better at?

Ask the person to tell you two things you are good at and one thing you could be more effective at. With the thing you could be better at, get them to be very specific about what that is and how they would prefer you to behave.

For example instead of “you don’t listen”, get them to give you a specific example when you not listening caused a problem, and what that problem was and how you could have handled it differently. The number of examples they can give will give you a clue as to the extent of the problem (and how important it is to them). Also, if you get the same message from different people, then this may be a common theme and something you want to focus on.

What should I STOP doing?
What should I START doing?
What should I CONTINUE doing?

Another feedback model is to ask for what you should “Stop, Start and Continue”. This will capture what you are doing that you should stop, what you are not doing that you should start, and what you are doing that works.

Using external feedback is useful as this helps to build a fuller picture of how your behaviour is perceived. Even those with good self-awareness benefit from some external feedback!

Using Feedback

How do you put this information to use? Make a list of what you think are your strengths and development opportunities (the politically correct term for weaknesses!). Below that, list the feedback you have from other people about your strengths and development opportunities. The more honest and thorough you are, the more likely you are to succeed with your development plan.

Feedback Source
e.g. from;your partner, boss, trusted friend, your colleague(s), yourself

List by each feedback source, the areas in which you have a strength. These will be the things you are “good” at or the things you should “continue” to do e.g.attention to detail, subject matter expertise, creative.

Development Need
List by each feedback source, the areas in which you have a development need. These will be the things you could be “better” at or the things you should “start” doing.e.g.Active listening at homePresentation skills at workBeing a role model for the kids.

Are there any repeating patterns or themes in the feedback? These will provide you with some clues about your focus areas

Focus Areas

Depending on where you are starting from (and the effort you make!) will determine the speed at which you progress towards achieving your goals. To make sure you do make progress, select a maximum of three areas to focus on for your personal development activities. If goal achievement is realistically a long way off, you may even choose to focus on one area at a time before moving onto the next.

When deciding what your focus areas will be, consider;

* Will this help me achieve my short term goals (3-6 months)?
* Will this help me achieve my long term goals (6-18 months)?

In the previous example, one focus area may be to sort out your finances by creating a budget and sticking to it, helping you achieve a short term goal of getting your finances on track. Another focus area may be to enrol on a college course to gain some qualifications, supporting a longer term goal of getting a better paid job. The crucial point is about timing and building things up in the right order.

Phew that was a lot to take in :shock: Don't worry the next phases are a bit more snappy! As ever, any comments are welcome

Next, Personal Development Plan Part 3
Lyndsay Swinton
Posts: 285
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2003 7:08 am
Location: Oban, Scotland
Likes Received: 1

  • Similar Topics
    Last post

Return to Workplace Psychology