Development plans sound like a great idea but somehow installing this as a practice in organizations can sometimes be quite challenging. There is a tendency to focus so much on the ‘template’ that we forget the actions the template is supposed to scaffold and enable, and the results and value those actions are supposed to achieve and deliver.
Like everything else in life, some of the things we do with conscious, rational thought and decision have become habits such that we are no longer aware that we are doing it or in some cases why we are doing it.
Development is one of those things that we naturally do in response to things we are trying to achieve that we currently can’t. How effective we are in selecting and executing development actions differ and this might over time result in either a belief that we can develop what is needed or a belief that we cannot. For example, people decide they can’t learn certain things or do certain things because of previous experiences of failing while trying to learn or do those things.
The beauty and opportunity that reside within development planning in an organisational context are the opportunities within tasks you are required to execute daily. These are the tasks you execute to achieve certain results to deliver certain value in your current role or for a future role. The concrete, grounded nature of this reality means development is probably already happening as you pursue these goals but risks being highly inefficient and ineffective which could potentially lead to conclusions like “I can’t do that job” or “I am not cut out for this” or other growth and performance potential limiting beliefs. Therefore, the goals associated with implementing a development plan in an organisational context include:
- To bring conscious rationalisation to the effort of development – this way you can know what you are working on and avoid emotions clouding the definition to equate all experiences to the same thing (positive or negative)
- To be able to draw on support to ensure you are clear about what you are working on and that the actions you are selecting to take to achieve it can help you achieve it
- Be able to check if you’re making progress without being, once again, blinded by emotions associated with experiences that do not contribute to actual progress
- Ultimately, this process, that forces a conscious reflection on development goals and actions, conditions and positions the individual to pay attention to all experiences of those actions with a development mindset which, by itself, has the potential to drive development results and value immediately.
The only way to achieve the above goals is if the approach to development planning is tightly integrated to the tasks of the role and not to an abstraction from these role tasks towards generic content. Much like the visual below, the approach needs to be more of the image on the right; task-performance focused and not so much of the left, knowledge and skill focused.
What is a Development Plan?
A plan is an articulation of what actions one intends to take to achieve a desired goal. You need the goal, you need the actions and you need an assurance that the actions will achieve the goal. The creation of a plan indicates the investment of conscious rational effort towards what it will take to achieve a goal. It is not a passive exercise.
The plan is created by the individual, for the individual. While certain aspects of preparing a plan might require input from others, the actual decisions reflected in the plan have to be by the individual for individual. This is because unless the goal is owned by the individual (results and value), the development actions which are deeply individual, will not be executed with much effort.
So in a nutshell, what does having a development plan mean?
A development plan has 2 sections
- A role task focused, work based learning plan
- A formal training plan (as required)
The formal training plan is not compulsory, but the role task focused, work based learning plan is the minimum requirement
Work Based Learning Plan
Your work based learning plan is the main section of the development plan.
It focuses on how your day-to-day experiences serve as primary drivers of your growth and development. These experiences have the potential to expand your capacity for broader skillsets while developing your expertise and mastery in your current ones.
However, learning from experience does not happen simply because you have the experience, it requires some conscious desire to become better and taking concrete steps to ensure the development value of each experience is carefully extracted.
A work based learning plan provides support for this conscious effort by making actual role tasks the anchor for development goals
Guide to Identifying Development Goals
Guide to Identifying Knowledge & Skills To Be Developed
Guide to Identifying Effective Development Actions
Guide to Defining Appropriate Progress Indicators
Guide to Target Dates to Measure Progress
Finally, you want to give yourself a timeframe for when you expect to see that you’ve made progress. You might also want to decide how often you want to check in on that progress.
Your progress check will primarily be to check on your progress indicators and see what they are showing.
All you are doing now is trying to pace yourself and give yourself some milestones. By this date or after this much time practising I expected to be this much closer to achieving my goal or to have achieved it.
Without pacing yourself with progress milestones, you might lack the motivation to follow through on your development plan and risk not achieving your goals.
Guide to Creating A Formal Training Plan
The training plan is just one type of development action and we want you to focus on the knowledge and skills you have already identified as key to helping achieving your development goal. In the training plan,you want to identify the right formal external support from an expert that will further enable you.
There are 3 types of you should think about:
This is digital in nature and is always available to you when you need it. It doesn’t require you to physically leave your workplace.This type of support serves a dual role of training when you actually sit through complete digital lessons or as just-in-time references to provide support to you on the job while trying to complete a specific task. we’ve introduced a few of these libraries and will continue to try to make more available to you.
These are scheduled events for which you need to register and then attend. Hence they require you to physically leave your workplace or disconnect from work for a period of time. We have core offerings that we schedule and publish the calendar on the learning portal. However you can also include other programmes you identify as suitable or the learning team helps identify based on the externally published calendars by the providers.
These are coaching or tutoring sessions which allow you to learn directly from someone who is an expert. This person can be a peer / colleague, your manager, external trainer etc. You can identify these people if they are within the organisation and approach them or your line manager can help you orchestrate the opportunity.
The knowledge and skills indicated in the work based learning plan is used in the training plan to identify the right training support
The attached presentation presents a detailed view of how this might play out using a template to drive the explanation and narrative. Using the template allows the narrative to address the “so how will someone do this” while retaining a complete emphasis on “why is someone doing it”.