How to Create the Perfect PDP for your Staff [free template]

We get it. Your staff often write to-do lists. They make promises. They attend meetings and have informal discussions about their future. You, as the HR manager, do your best to guide them. And still, they’re sat in the same place that they were 3 years ago. Doing the same thing. Going around a vicious cycle of boredom, demotivation and soul-destroying work.
 
But it doesn’t have to stay that way, at all. In this article, I am going to cover what PDP is, and give you a 6 step process on how you can get your staff to do easily this.

So, what is PDP?

PDP is an acronym for Professional Development Plan. There are other terms referred to this, such as:
  • IDP (Individual Development Plan)
  • EDP (Employee Development Plan)
And they are refer to the same thing. Which is a professional development plan on how to reach your career goals. Talking about ‘goals’ – a Harvard Business Study revealed 3% of their MBA graduates ended up earning 10x as much as the other 97% put together. You might think – what makes the 3% different to the rest? It was the simple act of writing down goals.
 
Thanks to the likes Tony Robbins and GaryVee, writing down positive affirmations and goals has become a new age concept that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. So, I wouldn’t call it a trend.
 
Even Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum announces his vision and sets it with strategies and goals. You can read more about his goals here. They all contain one common similarity, which is that they use SMART goals.
 
When writing a PDP, it has to be in the following format:
Specific: What exactly does your employee want to achieve?
Measurable: How will they know they achieved this?
Attainable: Is it possible to reach their goal within their capabilities?
Realistic: Is it realistic for them to set this goal?
Timely: How long does the employee have to reach this goal?
 

Writing the Perfect PDP – A simple 6-Step process 

If you google “PDP”, you’ll come across many different styles and questions. There is no right or wrong way to do this. As long as you use the SMART goals as a framework.
 
Now you have an employee that you want to help. You want them to grow and excel in their career.
 
The next question is: how do you help them write the perfect PDP?
 
Here at Alpha Training, we’ve put together a simple 5 step process to creating the perfect PDP. Follow the steps and let us know how it goes. At the end, you’ll have the option to download our FREE PDP template.
 

1) Focusing on the present: Where they are today.

Sit down with your employee, and ask the following questions:
  • What tasks have you done in the past 2 or 4 years that you feel has helped you develop?
  • When you applied for this job, on a scale of 1 – 10 how happy are you of being in this role?
  • Are you where you imagined yourself to be when you first applied?
  • How do you feel about the stage you’re at in your career?
  • Has there been times when you have looked at certain job roles or ads and thought “I wish I could do this” or “I am capable of doing this”
By talking to your employee and analysing their current situation is the best place to begin.
 
Allow your employee to write down their responses and note down any positives or negatives related to their development.
 

2) Focusing on the future: Where do they want to be?

To help your employee with their career goals, ask the following questions:
  • When you think of success – what comes to your mind?
  • What motivates you to set targets and achieve them?
  • In work, what tasks do you enjoy doing the most?
  • Are there any tasks you do outside of work time that you’d love to do during work time?
  • If yes – do you feel like you’re succeeding?
  • Where would you ideally like to be in 3 years time? What about 5 years? What about 10 years?
This is where their answers will start to reflect on SMART goals.
 

3) Identifying the professional skills required

This is where you wear your HR cap. When your employee has identified their short and long term goals, they’ll need to break them down into steps and then identify the skills.
 
So, for example, if your employee wants to be promoted to a manager from an admin role – they need to know what skills are required at every step of the way.
 
Current job: Administrator
Current skills: IT, computer, telephone, customer service, etc
Dream job: Manager
Dream skills: leadership, CRM experience, communicating with stakeholders, etc
 
As a HR manager, you can be as realistic and helpful to your employee as possible. You would know that you can’t just jump from an admin role to a manager without promotion or training. So these are the things you’d discuss and bring to surface.
 
For example: 
To get to a managerial role, your employee will need to undertake certain training and also go through a supervisor role first. This will mean they will need skills in A, B and C.
 
You could break down the skills into 2 categories for training purposes. One labelled ‘soft’ skills, and the other labelled ‘hard’ skills. This makes it easier to break down which type of training is best for each skill.
 
TIP: Sit with your employee and research what skills and requirements are necessary for their dream job. Nothing feels demotivating having to do it yourself and feel you’re not capable. As a HR manager, this is your opportunity to become their mentor. 
 

4) Skills analysis & Training

So your employee knows what their career goals are. Now it’s about seeing how to develop themselves to reach them.
 
With the skills that were written in the previous step, review the ones that your employee is already proficient in. These are marked as their strengths. And then review the skills that need to be developed. These are what the training will be based on.
 
Once the skills are highlighted, as a HR manager you will need to plan how your employee will be trained on this.
 
Side note: Alpha Training are specialists in training and development. We offer many public courses and also in-house training. Call us for a quick chat if you find yourself stuck on the best training.
 

5) Setting dates and a timeframe for the SMART goals

 
Remember step 2, when your employee was asked what motivates them to achieve goals? Their answer will be useful in this step.
 
Knowing that goals are set with deadlines and in a timeline can motivate your employee to strive in achieving them.
 
This is also what made the 3% of MBA graduates at Harvard successful. They simply wrote down their goals. And stuck to it.
 
The timeframe can be entirely up to the individual, but it should be realistic and not disruptive to their current job.
 
Write them down and save it all in a document to reflect on. A PDP shouldn’t be forgotten about. It should be recorded and reviewed, and used in the future for further development.
 

6) On-going monitoring & measuring

So this is the final step, and the step that is probably the most useful to the HR department. 
 
This is about making sure the employee is sticking to their PDP. And PDP should be an on-going development plan that should be regularly updated and reviewed. 
 
Questions to ask, at this stage:
  • Are they attending their training?
  • How well are they performing?
  • Are they on track to achieving their goal?
  • Do they have access to the resources and training?
PDP’s are not compulsory for an organisation. In UK, they are more common in public sectors like the NHS than in private companies. But this is highly effective and is proven to work.
 
Bearing this in mind, as a HR manager you don’t have to chase your employee to make sure they’ve done their PDP. The individual, who commits to their own PDP, should be responsible and accountable for following it through. As studies show, if done right – the individual can become very successful.
 
By offering quarterly meetings and reviews with your employee can help them stay motivated. And, also help you as the HR manager identify any new skills or goals required for them.
 
“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.” —Andrew Carnegie