Invest in yourself: How to create your own professional development plan

by Adeline Teoh July 27, 2016
  • Are you at the peak of your career?
  • Do you believe you’ve reached your full potential?
  • Are you happy to remain at your current professional level?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all these questions, stop reading. If you didn’t, or if you believe you have more to learn and want to extend your expertise, then you need a professional development plan.

Why you need professional development

Business leaders often view professional development as an investment in the skills, knowledge and experience of their employees. They know it adds value to the business and enriches their team members individually. When you’re the business owner, however, no one looks after your professional interests in the same way – you need to do it yourself.

Professional development is more than currency of skills and knowledge. It takes stock of your current position and identifies areas for improvement so you can move to where you want to be. It also shows that you’re interested in furthering your expertise, so clients recognise you’re serious about giving them high-quality advice and service.

Develop a plan

Professional development requires some planning. The basic steps take you from discovering gaps in your professional skill set through to setting career goals and tracking your progress.

1.Undergo self-evaluation

Take stock of your knowledge, skills and experience. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Identify professional gaps, and any areas for improvement. They might not relate to broking but could be relevant to running a business, or raising your profile. You may wish to do more conference presentations, for example, and therefore want to improve your public speaking. You may want to hone your time-management skills, or learn about marketing on digital platforms. Whatever it is, make sure it will enhance your professional portfolio.

2.Set your direction

Define success for yourself. Where do you want to be in your career, by what time? This is different for everyone. Some people may want to complete an MBA within three years. Others might want to be the media’s go-to broking expert within five years.

3.Set milestones

Find out what’s required to achieve success. It might be formal or informal education or training. It could be mentoring or coaching. Once you know what you need, set short- and long-term milestones so you can track your progress.

4.Monitor your development

Keep track of your achievements in a diary or a spreadsheet. If you prefer to work online, there are a host of goal-setting apps available, including GoalsOnTrack, LifeTick and Wunderlist.

This step not only documents your plan, it encourages you to continue until you’ve reached all your professional development goals. If you fall behind, it’s a way to see where you need more effort, or an indication that the plan may need to change.

5.Re-evaluate

A professional development plan is a living document. Whether or not you’re making progress, it’s a good idea to check in to see if you’re still heading in the right direction. You may find what you thought you needed to do will no longer deliver the outcomes you wanted – and if that’s the case, update your plan.

Your plan needs to be flexible enough to cater for changes to your abilities and your goals, as well as changes to your profession and the wider industry. By continuing to evolve professionally, you’ll give your business the best chance at ongoing success.

Professional development is about self-improvement to both further your career and support your business. It’s not only a pathway to individual achievement, it’s the foundation for delivering the best possible advice and service.

For more information on managing your own professional development, contact your PLAN Australia BDM.

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