What is a PDP? – Personal Development Plans Explained

Sep 19, 2023 | Personal Development Plans

DPDs explained - a guide to personal development plans


Ever felt like you’re stuck in a professional rut? You’re not alone. In today’s fast-paced work environment, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and directionless. Enter the Personal Development Plan, your very own GPS for career growth. In this article, we’ll unravel what a PDP is, why you absolutely need one, and how to create a development plan that truly works for you.


What is a Personal Development Plan (PDP)?

PDP Definition

A Personal Development Plan, often referred to as a PDP, is a strategic document that outlines your career objectives, the skills you need to achieve them, and the steps to get there. Think of it as a road map for your professional journey.

Components of a PDP

A typical PDP includes a few key elements:

  • Career Objectives: Where do you want to go?
  • Skill Inventory: What do you already know?
  • Skill Gaps: What do you need to learn?
  • Action Items: What steps will you take?


The actions that you take often includes things like:

  • Gaining relevant experience, perhaps by asking to get involved in related projects
  • Training, which could be;
    • Professional development through structured professional bodies
    • In person training courses
    • Online courses
    • A simple bit of You-tubing or reading
  • Joining professional bodies
  • Enlisting the help of a mentor


Relevance in Broader Performance Management

Now, you might be wondering how this all fits into the bigger picture of performance management. Well, a PDP is not a lone ranger. It’s often an integral part of a comprehensive performance management system. For instance, PerformanceHub’s PDP feature can seamlessly integrate personal development plans within your overall performance review process.

One advantage to using performance management software like this is that your Learning and Development department get a centralised view of all development needs. This helps them plan and anticipate your overall organisational requirements.


Why Do You Need a PDP?

Career Growth

First up, let’s talk about your career development. Dreaming of that corner office? Or maybe you’re eyeing a leadership role? A PDP serves as your personal road map, showing you the quickest route to your career destination.

Skill Development

Next, we have skills, the tools in your professional toolkit. A PDP isn’t just about identifying these skills; it’s about sharpening them. Whether you want to master Excel or become a pro at project management, a PDP lays down the pathway.


Ever set a New Year’s resolution and completely forgotten about it by February? We’ve all been there. The beauty of a PDP is that it keeps you accountable.

When you document your goals and the steps to achieve them, you’re making a commitment. A commitment that’s much harder to break. Sharing your PDP with your manager can also help you with effective personal development.

Reporting and Analytics

Now, how do you track your progress? This is where PerformanceHub’s reporting and analytics come into play. By having detailed analytics at your fingertips, you can monitor how well you’re sticking to your PDP, make data-driven decisions, and adjust course if needed.


How to Create a Successful PDP

Assess Your Current Situation

Before you plot a course, you’ve got to know your starting point. Take a step back and assess your current skills, responsibilities, and career aspirations. This sets the stage for everything that follows. Talk to your manager and peers about this too. Your manager should be able to help you create a personal development plan.

One way to help you look at this by SWOT analysis. Listing your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (for not developing) in a grid.

Set Clear Objectives

Now that you’ve got a handle on where you stand, it’s time to set your sights on where you want to go. The key here is to set realistic objectives or SMART goals—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Nail these, and you’re already halfway there. Think now and plan for the future, so remember to think about short term and long term goals.

Identify Resources

You know where you’re going; now, how do you get there? List the resources you’ll need. Whether it’s training programmes, mentors, or tools, identify what will help you reach your objectives.

Create an Action Plan

All set? Fantastic! Let’s get those plans into action. Break down your objectives into actionable steps. Make them as detailed as possible, from timeframes to responsible parties. The more specific, the better.

Use Tools to Simplify the Process

Why reinvent the wheel when there are tools designed to make your life easier? PerformanceHub’s personal objectives and employee feedback can automate, streamline, and enrich your PDP process.


The Benefits of a Well-Executed PDP

Improved Productivity

First and foremost, a good PDP is your passport to peak productivity. When you know exactly what you’re aiming for, every action becomes more intentional. It’s like having a GPS for your workday.

Better Job Satisfaction

When you achieve your goals, work becomes more than just a 9-to-5 grind. Your tasks gain meaning, and before you know it, job satisfaction soars. It’s a win-win for both you and your organisation.

Greater Adaptability

The corporate landscape is ever-changing. A solid PDP prepares you for these shifts. It equips you with the skills and mindset to adapt, ensuring you stay relevant in your field.




We’ve walked you through the what, why, and how of Personal Development Plans. From setting SMART objectives to leveraging PerformanceHub’s PDPs, we’ve covered it all.

Final Thoughts

A PDP isn’t a one-time event; it’s an ongoing process. Keep revisiting, updating, and—most importantly—acting on your plan. The road to success isn’t always easy, but a well-crafted PDP makes the journey worthwhile.


So, what are you waiting for? Unlock your full potential by creating your very own PDP. And if you’re looking for a tool that brings it all together, PerformanceHub’s comprehensive personal development plans has got you covered. 


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