Brian's Blog

In addition to an employer’s annual appraisal process, to engage in a regular professional development planning process. The reason that the professional development planning process is important is that it is your career. If you don’t focus on your career then who will?

In engaging in my own professional development planning and coaching others, I have seen very few planning templates that are flexible enough to work for those of us in the consulting profession. Therefore, I have put one together that is general enough for consulting while enabling us to put in enough detail to make sure that the plan is measurable and attainable.

We have put together a high-level guide to Professional Development to help in this process. It makes the most sense to complete an important exercise like this in a few steps. In each step, you can go through the entire plan, adding more details from different perspectives on each pass.

 Reflection and self-awareness: The first step is to take some time to reflect on your career and do some self-analysis on aspects of your work that give you satisfaction and aspects that you don’t find enjoyable. One way to do this is to separately write about the times I your career that you were the most happy and reflect on some of the aspects of that experience.

 Seeking outside input: To gain more perspective and insights into your professional development process, I recommend that you talk to your supervisor, a mentor that can provide insights, and to your peers that are familiar with your career. In talking with your supervisor you might want to discuss specific experiences and/or training that they had in moving through their career.

 Developing action steps: In your reflection and discussions, you should think about tangible steps that you can take to get you closer to your career goals. These are separate from your short-term career goals. These action-steps could include; updating your resume; seeking out a mentor; attending classes or conferences; networking; or joining a relevant meetup group.
As you think through the professional development process, it is helpful to develop a plan in a number of dimensions. These include:

 Personal Mission Statement: In completing a personal mission statement keep in mind your broader career and personal goals. There are a few online tools that are helpful in getting us thinking about our goals and inspirations related to building a personal mission statement. The following link is a link to one of my favorite tools in helping to build a personal mission statement through Franklin Covey: I recommend completing the Mission Statement Builder and using the output of the tool as a starting point for building your own Personal Mission Statement.

 Short-term Career Goals: Once you have created your Personal Mission Statement the next step is to conduct a gap analysis between your Personal Mission and where you are now. Then think about what are some immediate steps you can take to make sure that you are moving in the direction of fulfilling your Personal Mission.

 Long-term Career Goals: Your Personal Mission can then be a foundation for creating your long-term career goals. Start with writing a list of “dream jobs”. Then compare these possible careers with your Personal Mission Statement. From this you should be able to boil down a list of your long-term career goals.

 Strengths to Leverage: Your strengths to leverage are the levers that you can pull to help you achieve your short and long-term career goals. If you went through the exercise above, your Personal Mission Statement should provide a good starting point to make sure that you strengths are aligned with your Personal Mission Statement and your career goals.

Over time as we get more experience in our careers and our lives inevitably change, our Personal Mission Statement and Career Goals will likewise change. Therefore, as a part of your career development process, I recommend that the above framework be completed from scratch annually. In addition, I recommend that as individuals we review it quarterly to make sure that we are on track for the year.
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