Personal development planning

At the end of your appraisal, when you and your manager have agreed your objectives for the coming year, it’s likely that you’ll turn your attention to your personal development plan (PDP).

This is the title given to it in the NHS, but you may hear it described as a ‘professional development plan’, or even a ‘personal and professional development plan’, or as something else – regardless of title, all have the same goal of giving you somewhere you can set down what it is you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it.

Perhaps the most important point to raise on PDPs is that you need to be realistic about what you can achieve over the timescale. The vast majority of positive changes in health care services don’t come from giant leaps forward, but from small steps which, when taken together over time, make a really big impact. The same goes for your own development – think of it in terms of setting realistic short- and long-term goals towards an overall destination.

So, when discussing your PDP with your manager:

  • recognise what you’re good at now
  • recognise which areas you want to learn more about so you can support the team more fully
  • identify what kinds of activity will help you gain the new skills and knowledge you’re aiming for
  • set out an action plan for getting the new skills and knowledge within a defined time period
  • identify what gaining the new skills and knowledge will do for you and the team – what will you do differently or better that will help the team?
  • make sure that once you’ve got your new skills and knowledge, you’ll have opportunities to put them into practice in the workplace.

All of this is recorded on a form that’s often combined with your appraisal. This is something you can refer to throughout the year and, if circumstances change, you and your manager can amend it to suit.

The kinds of issues you might want to look at through personal development planning are very varied – it could be something on communication, an aspect of clinical care, finding out more about person-centred approaches or legal issues related to your role or brushing up on your English language or maths skills. If you want to improve your English or Maths, a good place to start is the Union Learn website; if you have particular doubts about your maths,  take a look at the resources on the National Numeracy Challenge website.