Personal development plans that actually lead to personal development

A typical personal development plan runs like this:

  1. I need time management training … so …
  2. I will do a time management course

As a personal development plan this isn’t really very good.

In fact I’d go as far as to say that it is pretty bad.

The only thing it has in its favour is a two-step structure: a need; and an activity to meet that need – but because the learning need is not properly understood, and the activity insufficient to meet the vague need, what actually happens with that plan is this:

1. Nothing

Then …

2. Quickly do a “Time management” training course five minutes before the performance management review

And then …

3. Nothing changes

I was recently delivering a workshop on building personal development plans and I introduced two key approaches that worked really well. This is nothing special, it’s just doing some proper gap analysis using coaching questions to dig deeply when defining the question and not rushing headlong to the answer.

The first question to ask is something like this:

  • What do you need to be able to do?

In the “time management” example above, the delegate hadn’t really thought it through in that sense, they just knew they were busy and quite overwhelmed with the volume of work and so needed “time management”.

Gap analysis 1

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