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125 | Create your perfect professional development plan in 8 simple steps
Episode 12510th May 2024 • HR Coffee Time • Fay Wallis
00:00:00 00:29:44

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Creating your professional development plan is a great way of ensuring you don't stagnate at work and get bored in your role. It can help you thrive at work and feel fulfilled no matter what stage you're at in your HR/People career.

In this episode of HR Coffee Time, host, Fay Wallis talks you through how to create your perfect professional development plan in 8 simple steps.

Key Points from This Episode

[04:14] Step one: Identify what you’re aiming for

[11:52] Step two: Record ideas you already have

[12:00] Step three: Look Back to Look Forward

[16:36] Step four: Capture your values

[20:13] Step five: Seek feedback

[21:26] Step six: Consider key HR areas of influence

[23:35] Step seven: Identify career-enhancing skills

[25:23] Step eight: Set your goals


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You can find the transcript on this page of the Bright Sky Career Coaching website.

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Fay Wallis:

Hello and welcome back to HR Coffee Time. It's wonderful to have you listening today. I'm your host, Fay Wallis, a career and executive coach with a background in HR, and I've made HR Coffee Time especially for you to help you have a successful and fulfilling HR or people career without working yourself into the ground.

Today we're going to be taking a deep dive into how to create a professional development plan that will have a big impact for you in your HR or people career, no matter what level of seniority you're at with your role. I know there are lots of reasons you might be listening to this episode, whether you're just starting out in your HR career and you're keen to progress, you've been working in HR or the people function for a while and you want to focus on your next steps or you're a senior-level HR or people professional, and you don't want to stagnate. Whatever the situation you're in, I really hope you're going to find this episode helpful. The big bonus about it is that I have a nice and easy format that I'm going to be sharing with you. It's a plan that fits on just one page, so it doesn't become overwhelming.


But although it is just one page, it will have a brilliant impact. There are eight sections to it that I'm going to talk you through. And once you filled in those different sections, you'll find that you have a plan you're excited about putting into action. One that is going to really help you have a career that fulfills you,

instead of one that frustrates you. If you have a copy of my HR planner, you'll find that is a template in there ready and waiting for you, if you haven't already started using it. So of course, if you have got an HR planner, you can fill the template in there. And then if you want to either leave it in your planner and just keep referring back to it throughout the rest of the year, or you can even tear it out and stick it on your wall.


So you've got it right in front of you and you can keep it up front of mind. If you don't already have an HR planner, the hardback version has sold out for this year, but you can download a PDF version from my website, Bright Sky Career Coaching, or you can create your own template. It's really simple.

You'll realise as soon as you hear me talking you through it. All you have to do is get yourself a piece of A4 paper and just draw out Eight boxes on it. Those eight boxes can be pretty much the same size, it really doesn't matter. It's just that there are eight sections we're going to work through together.

And I need to say a big thank you to Andy Chalwood for giving me the idea for today's topic. I always love hearing from listeners of the show and I think that some of the most helpful episodes have come directly from listeners getting in touch to suggest ideas. I really want HR Coffee Time to be as helpful for you as possible, so I know that if you suggest a topic and I'm able to cover it, then not only is it going to be useful for you, it will hopefully be helpful for lots of other people as well.


Andy got in touch more than a year ago, oh gosh I'm sorry it's taken me so long Andy, to ask if I had a template for drafting a three to five year plan. It was him asking me that question, that gave me the idea for creating the one page career plan. that is now available in the HR Planner and which is the template I'm talking you through today.

the time when I'm getting the:

I created the one page career plan template with the idea of it being a one year plan but there's absolutely no reason that you couldn't use it for thinking about longer term goals across three or five years if you'd like to. Andy, if you're listening, thank you so much for helping me shape not only the HR planner, but also this episode.


I really hope you're going to enjoy listening to it and that it's going to be helpful. The first box to fill in on your professional development plan is labeled What I'm Aiming For. So your first step is to identify what you're aiming for in your career. This is going to help give you focus and keep you on the right track as you start working through the other seven steps in the template.

And I found that there tend to be four main paths that we can choose for our careers. They are to grow in your role, to step up, to move sideways, And I'll quickly talk you through those four options in a bit more detail to help bring them to life, so you know which one you'd like to choose.

If growing your role feels like the right option for you, this probably means that you're happy where you are and with the role that you're in, but you don't want to stagnate.


You want to make sure that you're still developing and growing and doing great work and enjoying your work. You probably want to set yourself goals that are going to increase the impact of the people function and your contribution to the success of the organization you work for.

If step up feels like the right option for you, this means you probably want to step up into a more senior role.

So perhaps you want to be promoted in your current organization, or you want to gear yourself up for moving into a more senior role in a different organization.

If move sideways feels like the right option for you, this means you probably want to stay in the world of HR but not in your current role.

Instead, you'd like to make a sideways move. So perhaps you want to move from a generalist HR role into a specialist one, like reward or learning and development, or it could even be that you'd like to branch out on your own as an HR consultant. If step out feels like the right option for you, this probably means that the world of HR isn't for you anymore.


You're ready to move into a different career and you need a plan of action to make it happen. If this is how you're feeling, the rest of this episode may not be quite as helpful for you as for anyone who's choosing to grow, enroll, step up, or move sideways. I keep on meaning to make an episode of HR Coffee Time

especially for anyone who would like to change career from working in HR. I'm afraid I haven't created one yet, but hopefully it won't be too long until I do. I do have some blogs on my website to help with career change. So you might want to hop over onto the website to take a look at them while you're waiting for the podcast episode to come out.

But for everyone else who's still with me, who has decided that one of the other three options is right for them, now that I've talked you through them, choose the option that feels right for you and just write it in the box. I'll share what I wrote in the box for myself at the beginning of the year because that's when I filled in my one page plan in My HR Planner.


I wrote down that I'm aiming to grow in my role. I then also wrote down what this means to me, because how one person wants to grow in their role is going to be completely different for someone else. So have a think about how you want to grow in your role, or what stepping up or moving sideways looks like for you.

For me, growing in my role means lots of different things, but one of the key things that leapt out at me when I was doing this activity was that I would really like to build my team coaching skills, because I've done a huge amount of one to one coaching and a lot of group coaching now, but I was still quite new to team coaching when I started off filling in this plan for myself at the beginning of the year, and it's an area that I wanted to deepen my expertise in. So the exact words that I wrote in my box were, to grow in my role, and then underneath that I wrote, to build and develop my team coaching skills. Of course what you choose for yourself is going to be completely different, I'm just sharing my example to help bring it to life a bit.


The reason I gave this episode the title Create Your Perfect Professional Development Plan in Eight Simple Steps is because for it to be perfect for you, it has to be driven by you. Don't worry about what I've chosen to put in that box or what you think anyone else might put in that box or what you think other people think you should put in that box.

Focus on what's most important to you and that is what's going to help make this plan the perfect one for you. If you need to pause the podcast while you quickly fill in that section of your plan, pause it now and then just come back to me when you're ready. Great, hopefully you've got that first section filled in, now let's move on to step two.

The second box on your one page plan is titled Ideas I Already Have. This is because often you may already have a few ideas floating around in your mind about what you'd like to do for your professional development over the next year, or of course over the next three or five years, whatever the timescale is that you'd like this plan to stretch across.


Maybe there are some courses you're interested in signing up for, some webinars or events you'd like to attend, some books you'd like to read, a project you'd like to be assigned to, or a project you'd like to recommend getting started with. You might want to be making changes as to how you manage your workload, The possibilities for what you write in that section are endless.

Don't worry about whether you'll do them all or not at this point, just jot down any thoughts that you have. It's always a good idea to get them out of your head and onto paper, and you can decide on whether you want to move forward with any of them at the end of this exercise, when we've got all the way through to box eight.

And if you're thinking, Fay, it's all very well for you, all you do is think about HR career stuff, I have absolutely no ideas and no clue what to write in that box, then don't worry, I completely understand. I know not everyone is obsessed about career stuff like I am. I have got another podcast episode that should help get some ideas flowing if that's how you're feeling.


It's actually one of the very first episodes I ever created. It's episode number five, and it's called How to Progress Your HR Career Using the 3E Method. It talks you through the three main ways that we all tend to develop professionally. The first E is experience, so that's pretty much on the job learning, when you develop by doing things.

The second E is the one we tend to overlook the most, but that is really important, and that E stands for exposure. It's mainly about exposure to other people. So that might be certain people in the organisation you work in that you can learn from, or it could be people who it would be good for you to get to know better, but it also might be exposure to people outside of your organisation.

And the final E is the one that we tend to jump to whenever someone says the words professional development. Well, I know that it's the one that I tend to jump to whenever anyone says those words to me and that is Education. Whether that means signing up for a course or a programme or self educating at your own pace through books and webinars or a podcast like this, that's what that third E stands for.


I've given you a super quick rundown of the three E's and hopefully just even hearing about those three different ways of approaching your career development might have started sparking some ideas for you straight away. But if you'd like to know more about it or you're feeling really stuck, why don't you hop back and listen to that episode now.

So as a reminder, it was episode five. Once you've written your ideas down, you're ready to move on to the third box in your professional development plan. This one is titled, Look Back to Look Forward, and it's probably my favourite activity within the plan. If you've been listening to HR Coffee Time for a while, you may have heard me talk about it before because I've created two episodes about it before.

That's how much I like it. There aren't many things that I've created two episodes about. Look Back to Look Forward is all about looking back over the previous 12 months and seeing what you learnt from them.


It's a nice positive activity because we're often really hard on ourselves or our memories only seem to easily stretch back over the past few weeks which means it can be easy to forget just how much we've done. From reminding ourselves of what we've been up to over the past 12 months you suddenly find ideas popping up in your head about what you'd like to do next.

If you have a copy of the HR Planner, you'll see that there are 10 Look Back to Look Forward questions for you in there for you to answer. I'd recommend answering the questions separately on a separate piece of paper, so answer them in the HR Planner, or if you haven't got an HR Planner, don't worry, I'm going to read out the questions to you in a minute.

You can just write them all down on a piece of paper and write down your answers. Once you've written down your answers, you read them through and you'll find that you'll get some key insights and some key actions and ideas springing to mind. And that's what you can then pop in the third box of your professional development plan.


I always answer the Look Back to Look Forward questions at the end of each year or the very beginning of the year. And if you're interested in hearing me talk through the activity in detail and sharing what my own answers to them were, So you can see, I promise I'm trying to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

which is called Reflecting on:

It's fine to do it whenever it's best for you and whenever you want to create your professional development plan. Part of the reason I thought of recording this episode now, which is May, is because I was running an HR Planner accountability session. I started doing those this year for anyone who has a hardback HR planner.


We meet on a monthly basis over Zoom and it's just some dedicated time for everybody to crack on with their planning and make sure that they're keeping up with the activities in there and keeping on top of everything they'd like to achieve for the year. And a couple of people who were on the last call with me in the last session mentioned that they were doing their professional development conversations at work.

So I thought, Oh, even though. It's not the beginning of the year. Of course, these conversations and this is a priority at all sorts of times in the year. So please don't worry too much about doing this at the beginning or at the end of the year. It's all about doing it whenever is right for you. But I promised I'd share the questions with you.

So let me talk you through those now. They are number one. What did you achieve? Small wins are just as noteworthy as big ones. And you may find that you're going to have to flick back through your HR planner to remind yourself about what you've been up to or search through some emails or look in your Outlook calendar.


I always find that tends to be quite helpful because there's always stuff in there that we've just completely forgotten about. Question two is what did you do to help others? Question three is what are you proudest of from the last 12 months? Question four is what did you do for your well being during the past year?

Because although work and your career are important, your physical and mental health are even more important. You're not going to be able to achieve what you want or to feel truly fulfilled by your work if you keel over from stress or overwork. Question five is what did you learn during the last 12 months?

Question six is, which relationships did you develop and build? Question seven is, what are you grateful for? Question eight is, what did you find challenging? Question nine is, what insights do you have from reading through your answers? And question ten is, how can these insights influence your goals? If you've already completed the Look Back to Look Forward activity at the end of last year or the beginning of this one, you can read through your answers and see if they spark any new ideas.

And it's also a great way of noticing anything that might have changed since you wrote them down. Or if you haven't completed the activity before, why don't you pause the podcast and have a go at answering those questions. You can then pop down any insights and ideas into the Look Back to Look Forward section of your professional development plan.

Once you've done that, it's time to move on to the fourth step, which is to write down your values in a fourth box, which is titled My Values. Our values can shift over time, so even if you've done a values exercise before, I'd always recommend doing one again and seeing what shows up for you. And when you think about your values, you're thinking about them in a work and career context.

I always describe our values as being like an internal navigation system. They are the things that are most important to us, and being aware of them can help you navigate through your career in a way that brings you feelings of success and satisfaction. Writing them down may also spark some ideas of what you would like to do going forwards that will help you feel fulfilled at work.


To give you an example from my own plan, one of the values that I identified for myself was connection. So next to it, I've written down, see more people in real life. I'd started to feel a bit lonely doing all my work from home, and after realising this from thinking about my values, I decided to start making an effort to get out and about and meet up with people in my professional network in real life.

And this has had the biggest impact. double benefit of giving me that in person connection that I've been missing, but it also taps into the second E out of the three E's that I mentioned earlier. Just from spending time with other people, I've been learning from them and having ideas that I can use for my work, or I've been able to help them and share some ideas that are hopefully useful with them.


It's all felt like a really positive experience and I feel like that value is being met so much better than it was before. Your values, of course, will be different to mine. Even if we have got some overlap, I don't think I've ever met two people who have exactly the same values. To help you pin down what your own values are, I have two things to help.

One is an earlier episode of HR Coffee Time, so that is episode 47. Discovering your values to help your HR career with my guest Zoe Hawkins and Zoe demonstrated live with me So I was her test person for the episode She demonstrated a way of helping someone unlock their values by asking them questions Or there is also the second way of figuring out your values There's HR planner that you can read through and then circle the ones that resonate with you You As you can probably tell, all the activities I'm encouraging you to work through to create your plan are ones that get you thinking deeply.


So that you're going to be able to create a professional development plan that is really meaningful for you and that is going to have a really positive impact once you start putting it into action. I feel excited for you just talking about it! Right, but anyway, back to the main point. You're aiming to whittle your list of values down to your top five.

There are then three questions for you to then reflect on, and those questions are, number one, how well are your values being met at the moment? Question two, what changes can you make to help you feel your values are being fully met in the context of your work and career? And question three, how can this feed into your goals?


Once you've done this reflection, jot down your top five values in your professional development plan, and also note down any key insights that you've had from asking yourself those three questions. Then it's time to move on to the fourth box in your plan which is titled Feedback. All the exercises I've encouraged you to do so far have been about looking inwards which is so important but one of the most valuable things we can also do to help our careers is to look outwards and that's what you're going to be doing for the next few sections of your plan.

I would love to encourage you to seek out some feedback. You might already have received formal feedback at work, but if you haven't, there are two simple questions that you can ask other people, which are, what do you think I do well? And what do you think I could be even better at? The answers that you gather back from everyone might surprise you and they can be very helpful for informing your goals going forwards.


We can be terrible at recognising our own strengths and achievements sometimes, so hearing them from someone else can be useful as you might find you want to lean into those strengths even more, and ideas about what you could be doing better can open up a whole world of opportunities when it comes to professional development.

Once you've gathered the feedback, write down any key takeaways in the feedback box of your plan and then you're ready to move on to the sixth box in your plan, which is titled Key HR Areas of Influence. For this section, I'd love to encourage you to think about all the areas that the HR or People function is responsible for or that has influence over.

and then pick out any that you'd like to learn more about or that you'd like to work on as part of your professional development. There's a list of different areas in your HR planner or you can always work your way through the CIPD profession map on the CIPD website to help spark some ideas. An example of some of the key HR areas of influence that are in the list in the HR planner are change management, culture, data and analytics, employee engagement, equity diversity and inclusion, learning and development, management development, and induction and onboarding.


But there are lots of others as well, so I'd really encourage you to take a look at them all. If you can't pinpoint any areas that you'd like to work on, another thing that can be helpful is to think about the employee life cycle. I know sometimes it can be hard to just look at a list of words and then have inspiration from them.

So also in the HR Planner, on the same page, I have got a little picture, a really simple one, of the employee life cycle. Think about What might you want to work on or improve when it comes to the different elements of the employee life cycle? So they are things like attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, life events, retention, reward, and off boarding in your organization.


Once you've thought about all this, jot down any ideas that you're coming up with in the box that says key HR areas of influence, so you'll have then filled in that section of your plan. Which means that we're now at the seventh section of your plan. We're at the seventh step and this box is titled career enhancing skills.

These are skills that aren't HR specific but that can hugely help our careers. I think these are just so important and I'm trying to make sure that I have made an episode of HR Coffee Time for every single one of these skills. I've done quite a few but I haven't got through all of them yet because I'd love to be able to share just a whole list of them with you so you can dip in to any episodes that are going to really help you develop those skills.

There's a whole list of the skills to read through in the HR Planner and I'm sure I'll think of others to add to it when it's time to create the next HR Planner but I'll read out what the list is made up of for the moment so you can make a note of any of the ones you're interested in developing further.


They are Business Acumen, Coaching, written communication, spoken communication, company wide communication, one on one communication, lots of communication in there, collaboration, conflict resolution, creativity, emotional intelligence, facilitation, giving and receiving feedback. Industry or sector knowledge, influencing, innovation, leadership, long range planning, networking, people management, problem solving, process improvement, project management, public speaking, resilience, negotiation, strategic thinking.

See if you can pick between one and five of those that you'd like to work on as part of your professional development plan. I chose three for myself this year, which were Business Acumen, Process Improvement and Time Management. They're all skills that I do have, but ones that I would definitely benefit from either strengthening or doing a better job of putting into practice.


al box is titled My Goals for:

It doesn't matter if the goals are for more than one year. Choose whatever time scale is most relevant for you. To complete this section, read through what you've written in the other seven boxes and use the ideas within them to create some specific goals and actions that you'd like to take. To give you an example of how I've done this, one of the things that I've written in the Key HR areas of influence box was induction and onboarding because I wanted to improve the induction and onboarding experience for my clients.


So one of my goals that I've written down was to create onboarding materials for anyone who joins my inspiring HR group program. Another of my goals was to complete more team coach training, which I'm part way through at the moment and really enjoying. And in fact, it's with Zoe Hawkins, the person who I had as a guest on the show to talk about values.

Of course, your goals are going to be very different to mine. I'm just sharing them to help bring this section to life, and I hope it's useful hearing them. You don't need to flesh out the goals you write down in a lot of detail at this point, just one bullet point per goal is absolutely fine. Just get the key ideas down on the page.

And once you've done that, once you've finished, you'll find you have a perfect professional development plan that has been deeply thought through, that has covered off the internal and external things that can drive your career success, and that importantly, you hopefully now feel really excited about putting into action because it is so personalized for you.


to Set Your Career Goals for:

That brings us to the end of the episode. I really hope you've enjoyed it and that it helps set you up with your perfect professional development plan. I'd love to know how you get on. If you put the ideas in it into action. Please do get in touch to let me know. I always love hearing from you. Or if you have any questions about it, it would be brilliant to hear those as well.


Questions always help me to improve the resources that I create for you because after I've spent ages on them it's hard to see how to improve them without getting any feedback. That shows why that feedback section is so important really. You can always reach me on LinkedIn. I'm there as Fay Wallis and that is Fay without an E on the end, and Wallis is s spelled with an IS on the end or otherwise.

Feel free to drop me an email at hello at Bright Sky career And before I say goodbye, can I ask you for a small favour? If there's anyone you know who you think would find this episode helpful, please do share it with them and encourage them to listen to it, because I would love to help as many HR and people professionals as I can with this free podcast, and I know that sharing it and word of mouth just makes such a huge difference.

I mentioned that one of the career enhancing skills I wrote down in my own plan for this year was to develop my business acumen. So it feels like the perfect time to mention to you that I have a whole workshop called Boost Your HR Career, where I take a group of people professionals through the activities I've shared with you today.


It's a fun and interactive workshop that leads to everyone leaving with their own fully formed professional development plan. So if you'd ever like me to run a workshop for your people team, please do let me know and I would love to talk about delivering this for you. Thank you so much. Have a great rest of your day and I will be back again soon with the next episode for you.




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