Personal Development Planning Toolkit

Staff development is important for professional and personal growth for current roles and future careers.

Staff members and their line managers/PDR reviewers/mentors have a role in ensuring relevant and rewarding development. 

What is development?

Development means gaining the capabilities necessary to carry out our current role well, prepare for changes in our current role or to move to another role.  As few jobs remain the same, development is essential for everyone throughout their career.

‘Capability’ captures the concept that more than skills and knowledge is required to carry out a role successfully;  it is also the understanding and experience to apply those skills appropriately on the job. 

The 70/20/10 model (Lombardo and Eichinger, 1996) is a useful and widely used rule-of thumb based on the idea that most effective professional development will take place in the course of doing our work, not by going on training courses:

70/20/10 Model


What is development planning?

The two key elements of development planning are:

- identifying the capability gap(s) that you want to address

- determining how you will know any development undertaken to fill the gap(s) has been successful

Developing Yourself

Most work-related personal development takes place through activities or experience in our current role, both to develop capabilities for our current role and to prepare for future role changes. 

As most roles change and many of us aspire to different roles in the future, personal development needs to be ongoing.

Personal development planning should have three elements, as described in the 70/20/10 Model:

  • 10% formal learning - books, courses, workshops (classroom or online)
  • 20% learning from others - sharing ideas, seeking feedback, interacting with others; this can include coaching, peer learning, conferences
  • 70% on-the-job learning - challenging tasks, special projects, applying new knowledge, secondments

For example, an individual who wanted to close a capability gap in the area of project management might:

  • attend a formal course on project management (10% formal learning);
  • then arrange with their line manager to work as a team member in a project where they can learn from and be mentored by an experienced, successful project manager (20% learning from others);
  • and then tackle a suitable project as project manager and receive feedback on their effectiveness (70% on-the-job learning)

‘Capability’ includes an element of competency, which is the area you are most likely to be able to influence through personal development planning.  It also includes elements which your manager/reviewer is more likely to be able to influence, such as a motivational environments and access to tools and/or resources.

The focus of your personal development should be on the areas where there is the greatest ‘capability gap’ between where you are now and where you want to be. There are various resources you might find helpful for assessing capability gaps such as:

It can be helpful to use a Personal Development Planning Template to guide your thinking for short and longer term development goals.

Your annual Performance & Development Review should provide an opportunity for you discuss personal development plans for the upcoming year (including resources you need to achieve them).


Developing Others

In development conversations with staff the conversation is likely to focus on competency and areas where there is the greatest ‘capability gap’ between where they are now and where they want to be. It can be helpful to use a development need template to inform your thinking about possible development needs of individuals and groups in your team. (Individual Development Needs Assessment Example and Group Development Needs Assessment Example   

The GROW Template for Development Conversations can also provide a useful structure for a conversation about personal development planning.

Please refer to the "Developing Yourself" section above to find some useful resources in how to help you prepare for discussions with others in supporting their development and for assessing capability gaps.

The annual Performance & Development Review should provide an opportunity for you to discuss personal development plans for the upcoming year (including resources you need to achieve them). Remember that a development conversation can occur at any time so being aware of opportunities and resources for your staff is important. You might find our guide to building a development culture in your team helpful. 


Leadership and Management Development

Many roles to which staff aspire to require leadership or management capabilities (or both).

The Leadership Development Options Matrix provides suggestions about possible routes to leadership development depending on the needs of the staff member.

The GROW template for Leadership Development Conversations may be helpful.

Our Managing People pages have information on courses, programmes, self-study resources and toolkits. 


Talent Management and Succession Planning

Personal development planning can be a key activity linked to talent management and succession planning initiatives.

Talent management is about identifying, developing and retaining individuals with ability and ambition to apply for more challenging roles.  Succession planning is about identifying critical roles in a Service/School and who might be able to apply for such roles in shorter and longer term.  Both these activities are elements in effective strategic workforce planning (along with workforce analysis and strategic capability assessment).

For advice on talent management and succession planning contact your local HR office