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High Performance Professional Development Plan

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How to create a dynamic high performance Professional Development Plan

Every organisation understands that a learning culture is one that yields the greatest employee loyalty, happiness and ultimately productivity. Professional development focuses on acquiring more knowledge and skills related to your career, and applies to everyone in the organisation from new employees to the CEO. Most employers therefore offer various kinds of assistance to encourage staff to further their studies and improve their skills.

Your personal development plan is a roadmap to your future and a large focus should be on your professional development and career aspirations. has compiled a few tips about how to create a high performance professional development plan that will boost your career.

Your first step

Draw up your personal development plan that clearly maps out what you wish to achieve over the coming weeks, months and years. Think of it as a document containing your life's vision and strategic plan to achieve your goals. It therefore needs to be a robust plan so spend some time on it. It also serves as a foundation for setting up your professional development plan. 

With that in place, you may now develop your professional development plan in a manner that aligns with your career aspirations as set out in your personal development plan. 

Take a look at our template that guides you through the process of drawing up your professional development plan.

Professional Development Plan template

This is what you should do to create a truly effective, functional professional development plan.

It’s all about goals!

Ensure your goals are aligned with the organisation’s goals. This is important not just to have a positive impact on your company, but it also ensures their support whether it’s financial or with time off, or in some other way that will help you on your studious quest. Company goals are already mapped out and require just a little bit of detective work to identify them. Take a look at your company’s mission and vision statements to get a view of the high-level goals and objectives. Look at its strategy for taking the business forward. If you are working in a large corporate, you may want to limit your investigation to just your department or division.

Identify the gaps

The next step is to identify the gaps in the business and specifically the ones that you could plug with your current or future skills. Speak to colleagues, both junior and senior, and identify the areas requiring attention. Prioritise them in order of urgency or value-added to the organisation, and identify the ones you could directly impact. Ensure that the initiatives that will fill the gap are aligned with the company’s overarching strategy.

For example, your company may decide to conduct projects in accordance with well-established project management methodologies. You may find that it is slow in making the transition. You could sign yourself onto a Prince2 or Agile project management course, and take that knowledge and drive the change in the organisation. This could help you achieve your personal goal of being a software development project manager within two years.

Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Speak to your manager about the areas you’ve identified and where you would like to focus your attention. This is an important step as your manager may have a better view of the company’s / division's requirements and may provide some guidance around where you may be better utilised.

Speak to HR to find out the rules around its training budget and what is required of you to access funds for training. For example, many companies pay an apprenticeship levy that assists in funding apprenticeships. There are many ways of identifying the right course to take and an education search engine like will provide you with a number of options to consider in your field of interest.

Finally, revisit your plan regularly

No matter how much work you do upfront, the nature of plans is that one observes parts that need reworking and tweaking only once it's been put into practice. This holds true for professional development plans as well.

Plans may need tweaking for other reasons as well. You may find that your professional development plan was too broad or too restrictive to be implemented. You may find that the organisation has changed tack and has adopted a different strategy. You may be planning to start a family. You may have changed your role or changed company and your current plan no longer fits into your new reality.

Revisiting your plan and applying the necessary adjustments will cater for any situation you find yourself in. It's a living document that evolves with you through life.

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Last updated: 18 Jun 2018

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Last updated: 18/06/2018

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