A Personal Development Plan (PDP) is for most of organizations, like a map that would lead to the development of a career and stimulate the employees. PDP is a tool that helps professionals to set  career goals and develop the skills to do so. Currently, Managers use it to help their teams grow by connecting the opportunities within the organization with the skills acquired by the associates throughout the years. Clearly PDP is not about correcting performances because it has to be focused on the qualities of the employee so it can develop his potential, allowing him to grow in the organization.

A personal development plan primarily focused on two approaches: the first one is about all the  new skills and expertise that are necessary to guarantee the performance of an employee beyond his current position, the second one is about using the actual qualities and dispositions of that specific employee to not only identify his specific abilities but also use them to seize an opportunity for career development within the organization.

the PDP structure is different from one organization to the other, but most of the time, it is elaborated around 5 steps.

Setting goals for the 3 next years to come.

This step is about giving an opportunity for the associate to think about his own goals and identify the real prospects within the organization. It is also an incentive because the associate will project himself in the future.

Identifying the qualities that are specific and exploitable

It is about spotting 2 or 3 of the biggest qualities of a co-worker and look for ways to use them for his own development. For example, an associate who is an accountant with good abilities in project management could be involved in the implementation of some specific projects that are not really part of his job description but will help him show his skills.

Identifying growth opportunities in relation to the needs of the organization

This step will require to identify all the opportunities that will allow the employee to use all his specific abilities and skills not only for his own benefit but also for the benefit of the organisation. All the opportunities will have to be relevant to allow an increase of the performance of the organization.


It is not all about developing the PDP, but mostly about using it wisely and putting all the efforts that are necessary to its achievement. The commitment of the Manager and the associate are essential to the process. Both parties will need to put their signatures to show their agreement and commitment. 

PDP Assessment and Correction

The final step of the PDP development is about regularly assessing its relevancy value and adjusting its content in compliance with the different developments that happened during the year. The assessment also helps to measure the progress of the associates in terms of reaching their goals.

PDP is not a legal document used as a way to compel the Manager and his associate. However it is an important tool to use in career management which requires for the Manager and his associate to have a lot of time in their hands to take all the necessary actions to establish it. The lack of commitment will undermine the relevance of such a tool and create frustrations. The PDP is an excellent asset to use in the stimulation, the development and the planning of the organization. 

Luc Herve ZOK