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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 interests or skills would you like to develop?
- What is stopping you from moving towards your goals?
- How do you find you learn most effectively?
- What are you looking to get out of working here?
- What would make you more confident in your job?
- 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.
- Do I have the resources to achieve what has been agreed? If, say, you have agreed to give an employee training in Microsoft Excel to help them do their job more efficiently, check whether you have the resources and capacity to carry out this promise.
- 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.