Planning personal, professional and career development

Where to start with development planning?

Development planning helps you identify areas where you can improve your skills and knowledge and where you can support your own growth.

Firstly, think about development in three separate areas:

  • Personal development
  • Professional development
  • Career development

Personal development is there to support and improve your physical, emotional, or social well-being in some way.

Professional development is there to support improve your performance in a your role and may have a strong link to

Career development is there to support and develop you for your desired broader career path, if you have one.

Now it may be that all three are covered by the same one or two development actions and opportunities, or it may be that all three areas need specific, unique actions. That’s all fine.

It may be that personal and role-related development is very important to you and that wider career development is not. All of those things are fine too.

The important thing to note is that each year, as part of your CDR cycle, you and your line manager should be discussing and acting on your development ideas, wishes and goals.

How do I know what I need?

This is probably the most difficult stage to define. Only you can answer this question but be aware that there are many factors to consider when finding the solution. You may find the following questions provoke thought in many areas……

What do I like doing?

In my job, as a hobby….

What is my motive for learning?

Promotion, personal improvement, overcome a problem, improve in my role….

What qualifications and/or experience do I already have?

Some of these may be transferable and may give indications of where you would like to go next. 

What method of learning would suit me best?

Courses, book-based learning, e-learning, work based projects

How much time do I have to complete my learning?

Be realistic – development takes time

What is my ultimate goal?

A qualification, personal fulfilment, career development.

How will I measure my success?

Recognised qualifications, personal goals…..

Where can I get help and advice?

Your Line Manager is available for advice and support. Also consider discussing any problems or questions with colleagues – they are developing their own plans at the same time and you may find that you have things in common.

Once you have considered all of the factors, decide on a future goal. This may be one single objective, or many smaller goals that make up a larger one.

What are some examples of learning goals?

Personal development:

Improve my time management, be a better active listener, be more resilient, make better decisions, be more proactive, develop better workplace relationships, develop a growth mindset, manage stress, gain a better work-life balance.

Professional and career development:

Be better at X part of my role, develop my management or leadership skills, learn a new skill or how to use a new programme or piece of equipment, develop my project management skills, gain the next level professional qualification, develop a professional network, develop my presentation or report writing skills.

What support is available to me?

Your development, whatever your goals is an important part of your CDR, so do discuss your goals with your line manager and document them on your CDR form. Your line manager should support you with time and opportunities to action the plan across the academic year.

In terms of personal development, Organisational Learning offer lots of opportunities, check out Learn for you, our course programme and our online learning resources. You may also want to check out the wellbeing offer.

In terms of professional and career development, again we offer lots of opportunities from coaching to external course funding, to online learning to full workshops. You can find out more here. But it is important to note that you shouldn’t just think about formal learning activities such as course and workshops. Practical activities like shadowing and stretch assignments can be even more relevant and useful learning. Find out more here.

What should I do with my action plan once I have it?

Add your goals to your CDR form for the year, but remember that this is a living document, so frequently review it and update it as you make progress, and of course take time out both to enjoy your learning activities and reflect on them.

If you need any support with your development action plan, please do let us know at