Personal Development Plan

April 15, 2012 at 5:16 pm 4 comments

Workforce development activities are focused on expanding employee talent to help workers be more effective and prepare them for new roles (Noe, 2010). While training tends to address specific knowledge and skills with the goal of improving performance, development activities tend to be more future oriented and can help workers take advantage of new technologies, manage change, and prepare for other roles in an organization or their profession (Noe, 2010). Development activities can include education, assessment, job experiences, and mentoring and networking. A personal development plan can help an individual build on his or her strengths and prepare for new professional opportunities. My personal development plan includes ongoing assessment, mentoring, job enlargement, and a personal learning network.

Ongoing Assessment

Ongoing assessment involves routinely gathering data about an employee’s knowledge, skills and performance in order to identify strengths and weaknesses. In my organization, formal performance appraisals are conducted twice a year. Feedback is also collected from colleagues and people who have received training or technical assistance from me. This information helps identify my strengths and weakness, which provides guidance in identifying developmental needs and creating an individual development plan (IDP). It also helps me set goals and objectives, and measure progress. In addition to assessments conducted by my employer, professional organizations establish competencies that can be used as benchmarks to identify developmental needs.  As a Certified Health Education Specialist, my responsibilities and competencies have been outlined by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC). NCHEC has identified both entry level and advanced level competencies in 7 areas (NCHEC, n.d.). I can compare my current knowledge, skills and experience to the competencies established by NCHEC to set developmental goals. This approach provides a professional standard that can be used to select developmental activities that are aligned with the requirements for my profession.

Job Enlargement

Job enlargement occurs when challenges or new responsibilities are added to an employee’s job (Noe, 2010). My employer provides job enlargement opportunities by giving me the opportunity to work on special projects. Based on the results of performance assessment and professional development needs, I can work with my manager to identify projects within my organization that can serve as development opportunities for my IDP. These opportunities can involve learning new technologies or techniques, learning about other areas of the organization, or taking on responsibilities outside of my current position such as managing others. Special projects allow me to learn and apply new skills that I might not otherwise have the opportunity to practice. Because the learning takes place on-the-job, the skills tend to be more easily transferred to other work assignments. Special projects also give me the opportunity to work with people who are not on my team, which strengthens positive relationships and expands the number of people in my network.


A mentor is a more experienced professional who helps to develop a less experienced professional (Noe, 2010). Mentors provide career support, advice, and guidance on developing interpersonal skills. I have mentoring opportunities available through my employer that are designed to help me learn the culture of the organization and prepare for more senior positions. I can also develop mentoring relationships outside of my workplace through professional organizations. These can help expand my knowledge of various career paths and identify the types of knowledge, skills and and experience that will be necessary to take advantage of opportunities in my profession.

Personal Learning Networks

A personal learning network (PLN) is a group of people with whom you share common interests who are willing to share their knowledge and experience (Nielsen, 2008). Working collaboratively with the people in your network can help expand your knowledge of the field, transfer learning to practice, and open opportunities to grow as a professional (Bozarth, 2011). It is a collaborative approach to staying up-to-date. Instead of just reading a professional journal article, engaging with a PLN is like discussing the article with colleagues, sharing examples of the new knowledge in practice, and getting feedback on your own attempts to apply the knowledge. PLNs can be developed using web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, social bookmarking and Twitter. This is useful when funds for traveling to conferences and professional activities are scarce. Online PLN’s are also useful for people like me who cross disciplines. For me, structured learning and development opportunities tend to focus on public health or instructional design, but not both. Developing my own PLN allows me to create the best mix of both worlds that meets my specific learning and development needs. It also gives me the opportunity to learn from people in seemingly unrelated fields such as visual communication and game design.

Becoming a life long learner is as much about preparing for the future as it is about improving current performance. Employee development benefits organizations by helping to build a competent and agile workforce. Employee development is also helpful to the individual professional by helping her develop her talents and prepare for a rewarding career path. Employees can work collaboratively with leadership to identify mutually beneficial development activities. Workers can also use professional resources and web 2.0 tools to identify and create their own development opportunities.

Click here to see my recommendations to a pubic health agency for organization-wide workforce development strategies.


Bozarth, J. (2011, April 5). “Nuts and bolts: Building a personal learning network (PLN).” Learning Solutions Magazine. Retrieved April 13, 2012 from–pln

Illustration of computers. Retrieved April 15, 2012 from

Image of man talking with mentor. Retrieved April 15, 2012 from

NCHEC. (n.d.). “Responsibilities and competencies for Health Education Specialists.” National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. Retrieved April 15, 2012 from

Nielsen, L. (2008, October 12). “5 things you can do to begin developing your personal learning network.” The Innovative Educator. Retrieved April 13, 2012 from

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.


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High-Tech Training

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. celia wilson  |  April 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Hello Alexis,

    Being that our assignment was to convince our organizations of the benefits of employee development your inclusion of statistics was great. I think ongoing assessments are also important in the field of healthcare because things change so quickly and innovations are always forthcoming. You ensured that the development opportunities would help employees transfer their learning to their jobs. They will know how to add skills, knowledge and abilities to their resumes in order to assume different and growing roles within the organization (Regan, 2007). The externships will provide employees with the opportunity to gain experience in areas that interests them specifically (Noe, 2010).

    The PLN experience offers such a wide array of sources for you to obtain feedback and knowledge. The fact that you mentioned how cost effective PLN’s are would be a definite selling point since social learning can accomplish what traditional approaches often cannot…{It} can supplement instruction with collaboration and co-creation, and in doing so, blur the boundary between the instructor and the instructed…It can bring far-flung employees together into new communities in which they can not only learn from one another, but also fashion new offerings for customers (Ketter, 2010). Also, communities of practice help you commit to implementation according to Dr. Stolovitch (, 2012).

    Since job experiences refer to relationships, problems, demands, tasks, or other features that employees face in their jobs you have the opportunity to focus on particular areas in which you feel you need to grow (Noe, 2010). I think that is an excellent choice. The interpersonal relationships can assist you in developing skills and increase your knowledge about the company and its customer by interacting with a more experienced organizational member (Noe, 2010). I wish you success in implementing your plans.


    Ketter, P., & Ellis, R. (2010). 2010: Six trends that will change workplace learning forever. Training and Development, 64(12), 34–40. Retrieved from the Academic Research Complete database.

    Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

    Regan, B. (2007). The future of training. Ezine@rticles. Retrieved from

    Stolovitch, H. (2012). Trends and Issues in Training and Development at

  • 3. Dr. Burke  |  April 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    I agree with Celia, you did a very good job in the selection of your development activities to support the identified needs.
    Personal Development Plan
    I think it’s a great ides to compare your current knowledge, skills and experiences to the competencies established bt the NCHEC. It would be interesting to compare those competencies with the benchmarks established by your organization. Working on projects outside your department, as you pointed out, is a great way to network, learn from others and gain a better overall view of the organization.
    Having the opportunity to participate in a PLN is a fantastic learning experience. I liked your suggestion to develop your own PLN; however, don’t pass up the chance to participate in other relevant PLNs. Your personal development plan was very well designed.

    Employee Development Plan for Health Workers
    I reallly liked the fact that you started with a needs assessment and than stated how workforce deveoplment can address those needs and challenges. I appreciated that you included creating a positive work environment amoung the benefits. You made a very good point regarding the value of providing an externship for employees.
    Focusing on mid-career staff for leadersip training is a very good strategy for addressing turnover and the retirement of all the babyboomers. I think that the “Two-In-a-Box” job enlargement strategy is a great suggestion for building on employee strengths and creating a positive work environment.

  • 4. Alexis Williams  |  April 19, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Thanks Dr. Mike. I was really interested in the concept of two-in-box management. I really admire and respect my supervisor, but I have no desire to have her job. I find that friends my age also express ambivalence about moving up in their careers because they worry about maintaining life-work balance. I think two-in-box opportunities would be appealing to people like me because it would give us the opportunity to leverage our strengths, develop professionally, and maintain our life-work balance.


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