Does someone care about your Professional Development Plan?

Have you ever asked to yourself if your HR or your manager took some actions regarding your professional development plan? If you’re wondering what this is about, well… it’s not a perfect start. Your professional development plan (aka. PDP) should basically allow you detailing your career path and how you’ll grow both as a professional and individual within your company, it will list goals and ideally means to reach your expectations. While this exercise could be done on a very long term (i.e. 5+ years) and potentially involve several employers, I’ll take the assumption here that you plan to evolve in your current company.

The paradigm “Ask you what you can do for your company and what your company can do for you” is interesting but you’ll have to realize that in most of the cases, when it comes to PDP, everything is up to YOU!

In a corporation there are several occasions where your performance is being evaluated. It could be done during yearly appraisals, at the end of projects, etc., people are commonly referring to Employee Performance Management. During these meetings you’re given objectives (ideally SMART) and feedbacks on your accomplishments (strengths, areas of improvements). This is a very Cartesian approach and generally very result oriented /short-term driven (generally up to one year). And you in the middle of this? Where will you be in five years? Have you noticed that this question is asked during all hiring interviews but never afterwards? I’m wondering if nobody is interested anymore in this question once you become an employee…

Unfortunately, during this process, the PDP is very frequently perceived as optional, which to me is a mistake, and many managers tend to just forget it. This is however a crucial tool in developing their team members. Managers are dealing with humans overall, among their qualities (duties?) I would like to state this: an important part of what makes a good manager is his ability to connect with others, to build rapport and trust and his capacity to understand people’s motivations and properly respond to them. Assuming managers are more focusing on operations, results, you have to be proactive. The benefits of doing this by yourself are tremendous, you will work for you. Of course you’ll need to share your thoughts and findings as much as possible as the intend is not for your PDP to stay on your desk! The minute you’ll start coming with goals and proposals the minute you’ll be considered more seriously by your management and foster path to success.

Self-awareness and Goals definition (as opposed to objectives) will be key

  • Self-awareness: you will need to identify what motivates you, what is energizing, what are your limiting factors, what you need to prepare future opportunities or roles? It takes time and energy but this exercise is really rewarding
  • Goals’ definition: make a difference here with objectives; goals are broad while objectives are narrow, goals are general intentions while objectives are precise and finally goals can’t be validated as is while objectives can. Why goals rather than objectives? Goals without objectives can never be accomplished while objectives without goals will never get you to where you want to be.

All in all, you should be able to identify a list of soft/hard skills to develop, trainings and/or certifications to prepare. Do you want to embrace a specific expertise, manage people, deal with budgets or benefit from mobilites (vertical, horizontal, geographical)? Bring clarity in what you really want to achieve. And if your manager does not support you enough with that, help him.

About the Author

Donald Havas

French technical evangelist and blogger with extensive working experience in the technology industry field (corporate IT, professional services and product development). Passionate about software development processes, innovation, new technology & industry trends and the gaming industry. And promoting simplicity and pragmatism on top of everything.

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