“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Benjamin Franklin’s quote applies to many choices we make, including personal development. Personal development is a term used for the lifelong process of actively improving your skills and gaining knowledge and experience.
Without a plan, however, it is difficult to stay focused and reach your goals. Studies show that only 8% of people who set goals actually achieve them. One primary difference between these individuals and the other 92% is that they have plans in place to meet specific, measurable goals.
Personal development plans (PDPs) are not only a roadmap to success for individuals—they also help improve an organization’s overall performance. As people achieve their goals and acquire new skills, businesses benefit from their improved skills and productivity.
This article will help you learn the importance of planning your personal development to achieve your goals and cover the steps involved in making personal development plans for business needs. It will also give you tips on how to create a PDP using the visual productivity tools in MindManager®.
Benefits of personal development plans
From entry-level workers to seasoned career professionals, everyone benefits from strengthening their abilities, learning new skills, and becoming more effective in their role. This is because PDPs help individuals map out their growth path to achieve an overall goal, such as learning new hard skills or developing soft skills.
Personal development plans hold the following advantages for businesses and employees alike, as they help you or the organization to:
- Increase profitability. Establishing an overall goal provides a clear sense of direction and purpose, which helps keep motivation and productivity levels high. When employees are highly engaged, businesses are 21% more profitable and 17% more productive on average.
- Minimize employee turnover. Personal development plans help organizations reduce attrition rates. This is because PDPs help to identify disengaged individuals who might be in the wrong job or role, providing an opportunity to re-engage them in their existing position or move them to a new role.
- Promote career development. PDPs demonstrate a commitment to enhancing an employees’ value and confidence in their work. Surveys indicate that a lack of learning and development opportunities are a leading cause of job resignations, highlighting the importance of investing in employees’ job satisfaction and fulfillment.
Steps to create personal development plans for business
A personal development plan outlines the skills and personal attributes individuals need to work on to support sustainable business growth. This is why many companies incorporate PDPs as a standard component of the performance management process.
Personal development opportunities keep people motivated, which in turn increases engagement and reduces employee turnover. As employees expand their skills and advance their careers, they are better positioned to achieve business-related objectives.
Keep the following steps in mind when making personal development plans:
1. Start with self-assessment
Most PDPs start by compiling a list of a person’s strengths, weaknesses, areas of development, and goals. One effective way of organizing this self-assessment is by using a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats:
- Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, such as your existing skills, available resources, bad habits, and areas for improvement.
- Opportunities and threats are external factors, such as events, projects, and activities that can help you attain your goal, as well as obstacles that could derail your success (e.g., lack of resources, skill deficiency, a large number of competitors seeking to achieve the same goal).
A SWOT analysis helps individuals evaluate their existing knowledge and skills and identify factors that could impact their ability to meet their goals. This is achieved by answering questions relating to each component of a SWAT diagram.
A thoughtful, well-organized SWOT analysis helps provide clarity when creating the goals of a personal development plan. By understanding their strengths and weaknesses, as well as any threats or opportunities, employees are able to identify what they want to accomplish.
2. Set SMART goals
Once team members understand how their knowledge, interests, and skills relate to their career goals, each individual can identify areas for improvement. Start by talking with employees to gain insights into their career goals. This helps you assess how their goals can be aligned with the requirements of your company’s objectives or business plan.
The goals set in a professional development plan should be SMART, which means they are:
- Specific. The goal should state precisely what you want to change or achieve.
- Measurable. Making goals quantifiable enables you to monitor your progress and set milestones.
- Attainable. Goals should be challenging but still achievable given your current timeframe and available resources.
- Relevant. Each goal should contribute to the broader objective of the PDP, keeping you focused on activities that support your development and are aligned with the company’s overall goals.
- Time-bound. A PDP should include a deadline as well as incremental milestones to keep you motivated and working to reach your goals.
SMART goals are more realistic and attainable than generic, loosely defined ones. For example, a weak goal might be something like “I will help my team communicate better” or “I will help my team close more sales.” By using the SMART goal framework, you have defined steps to take, understand what resources are required, and have milestones to track your progress along the way.
A PDP breaks down SMART goals into manageable action points and structures them as short-term objectives. This makes it easy to achieve goals by completing one small step at a time, keeping PDP followers focused on the benefit of realizing their larger end goal.
3. Develop goal attainment strategies
There are various resources and strategies that can be used to achieve the goals of a personal development plan. According to the 70-20-10 model, employees perform best with a combination of informal, formal, and social learning strategies:
- 70% of learning should be experiential. Experiential learning is informal, self-guided, and gives the individual control over what they are learning. Mentoring, podcasts, on-the-job experience, and discussions with coworkers are just a few examples of experiential training and development.
- 20% of learning should be interactive. Social learning is an effective way to receive guidance and mentoring from others, such as coworkers and managers. Adding a social element to the learning process promotes collaboration as individuals gain knowledge by interacting with their peers.
- 10% of learning should be formal. Structured training such as enrolling in a certification course, participating in workshops, and other educational programs help individuals learn and practice new information or behaviors. Formal training has defined learning objectives and applies an evaluation or exam at the end of the training to assess the participants’ performance.
For example, if an employee needs specific IT certifications to advance in their role, they will benefit from formal learning in a certification course. If another individual struggles with public speaking, they might seek out networking events where they can develop their communication skills.
4. Monitor progress and adapt accordingly
Meeting regularly with employees helps monitor their progress in obtaining their PDP goals. Ask for specific feedback regarding what is going well, where they need support, and if parts of the plan need to be adjusted or improved.
As individuals work on their goals, they can document the changes made and steps taken to achieve their objectives. If they are struggling to complete tasks within the specified timeframe, find out what is going wrong and why.
For example, was the goal not achievable within the given amount of time or did they not have enough support? Then, rectify and update the plan accordingly. A personal development plan is not rigid, and it can and should be adapted as individuals work toward their goals.
How to use MindManager to create personal development plans
There is no one way to prepare a PDP, but whatever format you choose, ensure that it is easy to follow and update. One way to bring clarity and structure to personal development plans is by using the mind maps and other visual tools available from MindManager.
When creating a personal development plan, you can use a visual map to brainstorm potential goals:
As was mentioned in an earlier section, you can also assess your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats with MindManager’s SWOT analysis template.
Mind maps are useful when establishing SMART goals for the PDP. Thanks to MindManager’s SmartRules™ feature, you can easily view how changing certain elements in the map affects others. For example, if you extend the timeline of one goal, how will that impact the availability of resources?
MindManager features pre-built templates in several categories, including personal productivity, strategic planning, and other options. Thanks to the ability to combine multiple map layouts on a single canvas, PDPs can be customized to suit an array of individual needs.
Personal development plans for business are detailed roadmaps that guide you along the journey to successfully achieving your goals while benefiting the organization as a whole. Using mind maps for your PDP helps you expand your creative thinking to better connect your ideas to actionable insights.
Ongoing learning and personal development are key to individual and business growth.