The ultimate guide to personal development planning

The two fundamentals of personal growth

Professional growth comes from action, not words. Even if you have no time for more regular development conversations, make sure you’re always doing the below for your team. If there’s one takeaway from this article, let it be this!

Provide challenging work that means something

Nothing is more important for individual growth than doing challenging work. Taking Excel courses on the side might help (I’m still sceptical), but the bulk of all learning must be on the job. Theory recommends 70% of learning should be from doing, but I’d argue it’s even higher.

How we classify challenging and meaningful work at Gousto

Give regular, constructive feedback

Reading the one-minute manager (summary here) changed my approach to feedback. I realised that committing to rapid feedback would massively help my team do their best work, and my ability to support them. But to be its most effective, feedback should sit within a broader cycle of expectation setting, feedback and documentation.

The cycle of expectation setting, feedback on those expectations, and documentation. I may share our levelling document for Product in a future post. DM me if you want an early look ;)

Introducing our detailed approach to personal development plans (PDPs)

PDPs are a great way to practice and check in on these two fundamentals of providing challenging work and giving meaningful feedback. They are nothing new, but I believe our detailed approach to making them highly effective is novel.

  1. Work out longer-term goals and motivations
  2. Plan challenging work for the months ahead
  3. Regularly recap on progress towards goals and feedback on that work
The cadences of different PDP conversations

The 6-month check-in: Building a ‘classic PDP doc’

We’ve framed our approach here around a personal development plan (PDP) process. In this approach, an employee uses a central document shared with their manager to articulate goals and track progress against them. We’re not precious about what format this PDP takes, the most important thing is that you write things down.

The 6-week and 3-month check-in: Zooming in on development areas and work plans

In more regular check-ins, you can move from the bigger picture of both their goals and their role to more actionable plans for personal development and feedback on patterns you’ve seen since the last PDP.

Help us make this even better

We have invested a lot of time to make this comprehensive, with some great input from Gousto’s People team. However, we know we haven’t covered all approaches to maximise someone’s personal development or all the great questions that can draw out meaningful conversation. We’ve also not touched upon the more nuanced sides of having great personal development conversations, like building psychology safety or creating a feedback culture.

VITAL framework refers to training we did internally at Gousto by the fullpotentialgroup. You can see their approach to VITAL communication skills here

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