Last week I was kindly invited to deliver a presentation to TAFE Library staff about developing a personal professional development (PD) plan. I’m no expert, but developed a PD plan as part of my ePortfolio requirements in my LIS Masters course. I was happy to help out and aimed to share my process, tips and learnings on developing (and reviewing) my own PD plan. I hoped I shed some light and made a bit of sense of the mystery around what a personal PD plan looks like, what it does and the benefits of having one handy.
My presentation was roughly divided into three parts:
- what is a personal PD plan and why information professionals should have one
- what the personal PD plan looks like: what guides it, tools available, parts of the plan and some learning options, and
- how to keep track of the personal PD plan (aka how you can make it work for yourself and your needs)
So, what is a personal PD plan and why should you have one?
1. Productive conversations
No doubt there will be (dreaded) HR processes in a workplace about PD planning every six months or so. By having a personal PD plan handy, you can have a productive conversation with your manager about opportunities in your workplace towards building your desired skills and experience. This also means that the conversation you have won’t be a ‘self discovery’ session, but a prepared and productive one, mapping out your next actions.
I have previously written about a unplanned conversation with the big, big boss at my workplace late last year. She flat out asked me ‘So, what do you want to do?’, to which I had an informed reply about the current stage of my career, my wishing to explore and I outlined a couple of goals I had set for myself. This information came directly out of my personal PD plan.
2. Meaningful contributions to your organisation, your profession and your career
With a personal PD plan, you can carve a career path that is personally satisfying and fuels that sense of progress and meaning to your career, as well as make meaningful contributions aligned with your organisation’s strategic direction and objectives. And if you’re super keen (and there are many reasons why you should be), make a meaningful contribution to the information profession. Make your mark. Be informed about where you’d like to go.
3. Make informed decisions
Just a few notes on a beer coaster or spare piece of paper and 15 minutes can chart a course and next actions that are informed. A personal PD plan can help with making strategic and informed decisions about your next career step or learning experience, and also guide where to direct your PD energies and focus. I have to remind myself fairly regularly that I can’t be all the information professional I want to be within even a short few years. This stuff takes time.
There is no magic formula to developing a personal PD plan. (I’m sorry)
What I have found helpful is to examine my current career need and be guided by my career mission. I also love collecting position descriptions I aspire to as I can conduct a bit of a gap analysis of where I am now and the skills, knowledge and experience I need to gain to become the information professional I want to be.
Having a sense of priorities in your life is important. I have a section devoted to this in my own personal PD plan. I have listed my life priorities over the next two years. This serves as a reminder to myself that it is okay to not take on everything (all at once) and that I am focused on other things in my life too, like writing (not here, but other kinds of writing).
A personal PD plan can be as long or as short as it needs to be, and as loose (think beer coaster) or as detailed as it needs to be…..to work for YOU. The plan could be a few notes to a project plan and schedule. It could be for two years, three years, five or ten years. Really, the personal PD plan is a document that charts your course from A to B. Seriously, that’s it. The PD plan is a living document and will need reviewing from time to time. My top tip is to keep track of the amendments you make along the way and I recommend having a brief review every six months and a more thorough review every 12.
The overall aim of the personal PD plan is to have a clear enough path to work with to forge meaningful career experiences, opportunities and outcomes.
Here are my slides.
It was absolutely my pleasure to present to the TAFE Library staff last week. I jumped at the opportunity and really enjoyed myself. I loved giving others a chance to work out the benefits of a personal PD plan for themselves and I really hope it was worthwhile. I was fortunate to have a tour of the Southbank TAFE library (which has some really cool chairs by the way) and be taken out for a chai latte with good company afterwards. :)