Do you have a Personal Development Plan?

Sat in a meeting room somewhere in Manchester my quarterly review was drawing to a close. It had been a good conversation, a chance to reflect on the last few months, the trials and tribulations of a large HR separation programme; but also of course an opportunity to recognise and talk around the successes we’d had during this time.

It had been a good conversation and as time was disappearing and the conversation was quickly drawing to a close, a question was asked of me, “So Mike what’s on your PDP?”

Now PDP for anyone that doesn’t work in corporate organisations stands for Personal Development Plan and it’s effectively a place to capture your development plans and to record progress. The expectation would be to record how well ‘the development’ has supported and helped deliver against what it was there to do in the first place. It’s a working document that should reflect steps to becoming the best you can be in your current role but also your career aspirations and potential future roles. Even if it’s not called a PDP, most organisations will have an equivalent, how else could individuals track their development, identify learning opportunities and then more importantly record evidence that it’s happened?

Sounds great doesn’t it? A real ‘value-add’ document that nobody should be without?

I can imagine you’ll recoil in horror when you hear I replied, “I haven’t got a PDP at the moment, I’m getting all the development I need from Twitter and the communities I’m involved in”. Yes you heard correctly, I don’t have a PDP, a Learning Professional who doesn’t currently have a PDP or any sort of formal document to state how I intend to develop *gasp*.

I’m not saying that I’ve never had one or intend to never have one again but at this point in my career I don’t feel that it adds value for me at this time. In fact after this conversation I’ve reflected a lot around the whole approach to using PDP’s from both an organisational and personal perspective and how, in my opinion they can actually have the opposite effect and take people away from any sort of development or learning new things. I’ll be looking at the PDP and the behaviours they can drive in my next post.

In the meantime let’s get back to the (over before it began) Twitter conversation and whilst we were running out of the time I didn’t feel the conversation would have lasted long due to a lack of understanding what Twitter actually is or does. Now I’m not going to start providing detailed reasons why you should use Twitter as there are already some fantastic blogs already out there that do a much better job than I ever could, one of my favourites is 5 months in the Twitterverse…was it worth it? by @Tuppymagic

Instead, I’m going to use a quotation and an analogy to bring to life what Twitter has provided me in terms of my own professional and personal development and ability to connect with people and access information.

The quotation is by Oliver Wendell Holmes and goes like this

“A mind stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimension”

I feel like I’ve had my and continue to have my head stretched through the information I have access to via Twitter and through the connections I’ve made building my own personal learning network.

The analogy I’d like to use to bring it to life is using the film Limitless.

In the film Bradley Cooper is a down and out writer with a severe case of writers block. Without spoiling the film for anyone who’s not watched it, the film revolves around a pill that provides a period of enlightenment and increases the brains activity to be able to recall anything you’ve ever seen and needless to say, IQ scores disappear off the scale. I like the films tagline, “Everything is possible when you open your mind”. The way the film captures the first time the pill has its’ affect from the eyes of Bradley Cooper is fantastic; the screen wakes up as if moving from standard resolution to high definition, colours become brighter, sound becomes sharper and it’s like the whole film has come out of its’ chrysalis and become a beautiful butterfly.

I realise I’m no butterfly and my IQ has not disappeared off the scale but Twitter has been my pill, my moment of enlightenment and increased brain activity. It has provided the stimulation and connections for me to grow and develop my understanding of learning and more importantly organisational learning. It’s helped me develop a greater insight in to HR, social media and marketing, in to technology and how it is being used in other organisations. I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced first-hand how online communities can help build and develop relationships and spread knowledge, opinions and ideas. I’ve had my mind stretched and I’m eager for more, I feel like I’m Jonny 5 from ShortCircuit “Input, Input, need Input”…..

My development has come from being exposed to new things and ways of thinking, to then contextualising them and bringing them back in to my workplace to try them and have conversations about them. To attempt new things and use different approaches AND to learn from them is crucial to personal as well as organisational development. After all if you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

This IS my development, it’s the work that I do and the more conversations I can have to build and share these ideas and reflect on them the better. My quarterly review and the conversation was in my eyes more important than any document I could produce. Rather than ask to see my PDP at the end of the conversation this conversation should BE my development and recognised as such. A PDP isn’t some token gesture produced at review time it should be living and breathing, your development shouldn’t sit on a document it should be brought to life in the work you do and in the conversations you have with your colleagues.

I want to develop the concept around the rights and wrongs of PDP’s in the next post but in the meantime let me ask you;

  •  Have you found your pill yet? If so what was it and why?
  • Does your organisation use PDP’s or equivalents?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the value of a PDP?
  • Do you have a PDP? If so would you share what is on it?

Look forward to hearing from you



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