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A Guide to Personal Development Plans for Business
How do I set objectives in a PDP?
This should be led by the employee themselves - you can help them determine their objectives by using a standard-form questionnaire.
The questions should be open enough to apply to all sorts of employees, so you can distribute a uniform questionnaire throughout the business. Some examples of useful questions to ask include:
- What are your strengths and what could you improve upon?
- Would you like to take on greater responsibility?
- What is stopping you from moving towards your goals?
- How do you find you learn most effectively?
- What would make you more confident in your job?
- What are you looking to get out of working here?
- What interests or skills would you like to develop?
- What new skills could help you at work?
A key element of developing a successful PDP is aligning the employee’s stated goals with those of your business. You should give each employee a copy of your business’ own goals along with the questionnaire – when the time comes to discuss development objectives, this will make it easier to agree what is compatible with your own plans.
After this, you (or a line manager) will need to sit down with the employee and agree specific development objectives to move forward. When doing this, you should ask yourself the following:
- Do I need to compromise? Sometimes you will need to concede ground to move forward; for example, agreeing one goal which suits the employee in exchange for a goal which suits your business.
- Have we reached genuine agreement? Unless you and the employee are mutually committed to the goals in a PDP, nothing will change.
- Are the objectives SMART? Make each agreed goal SMART (specific, measurable, agreed, realistic, time-limited).
- Have I prioritised the agreed objectives? Resources within your business will be limited, so arrange objectives according to their relative importance.
- Have I limited the objectives? Similarly, try and whittle down objectives to a list of three or four. You are free to add in goals later if good progress is made.