Management Advice - Personal Development Plans
By Professional Academy Contracts Manager, Jill Towner
Magazines are full of fun questionnaires to help you find out whether you are compatible with your partner, where your dream holiday destination might be, and even what should be in your wardrobe based on your eye colour or shape.
I often wonder whether anyone really does finish a relationship based on the results - if so, it was probably coming anyway! – sign up for a camel trek in Mongolia because they said they like animals, outdoors and warm temperatures, or rush out to the nearest shopping center to replace their entire wardrobe because they should be wearing teal instead of taupe!
However, believe it or not, questionnaires can be useful as a means to clarifying traits you don’t often take the time (or have the time) to really think about. In management terms this is called ‘personal development planning’. It’s all very well managing other people, but it is a good idea to be able to manage yourself first. And the benefits are not just those of having a few holiday destination suggestions directed towards you, but being able to recognize and adapt to a heavy workload or stressful situations, recognize your ambitions and understand what you are good at and what you need to work on to improve (your strengths and weaknesses).
Once you start your PDP it soon becomes clear that there are several levels of detail you can go into, but it’s easiest to start with three basic questions: Where am I? Where do I want to be? How will I get there? The first question is relatively easy; the second question is more tricky as you need to consider your professional and personal situation e.g. how much support do you/will you get; how will you finance any changes; are things settled or in a state of flux … The final question can be answered as extravagantly as you like – after all this is a ‘personal’ development plan and you don’t have to share it if you don’t want to. You might want to consider if you want to share your ambition to be the Managing Director of your company with the existing Managing Director – although your degree of ambition may be admired, it could be tinged with concern!
Once you have identified where you want to be you need to think about short-term, medium-term and long-term objectives which are the stepping stones to achieving your goal. It can be compared with doing a jigsaw. The short-term goals are the individual pieces, the medium- term might completing the outside. But if you think about it, it is much more difficult to compete the puzzle if you don’t know what the picture is going to be when it is completed. Similarly, if you don’t know what your ultimate goal is it is difficult planning how to get there.
So, next time you see a questionnaire in the media, think about the value of completing a personal development plan to help you personally and professionally. The Chartered Management Institute regards this an important part of developing good managers and leaders. If you want any more information about how to study for your CMI Management & Leadership qualifications, you can contact Professional Academy directly for some advice on which course is right for you or download a copy of our latest prospectus for more details.