Create a Personal Development Plan and Take Action

Use Spidergap reports to create a tailored development plan/PDP/IDP, including prioritizing where to improve, and how to take action

When you’re given 360° Feedback, the end goal is not to simply review the report. 

Of course, it’s important to review the report, and we recommend reading our guide on how to review your 360° Feedback report before this one.

The real end goal is to put the feedback to use, to:

  • Take action on your personal development

  • Grow in your career

  • Be happier in your role.

So the next step is really important: It’s time to create your personal development plan and take action!

We've found that the steps below work brilliantly if you first spend 30–60 minutes working through the steps on your own, and then use a coaching call with your manager to ask questions and agree on your goals and action plan.

1. Look at the big picture

Before you start creating your personal development plan, take a step back and look at the bigger picture:

  • What are my organization’s values?

  • What business goals am I supporting?

  • What responsibilities do I have?

  • What are my career goals?

  • What do my colleagues see as my top strengths? 

  • What do my colleagues see as areas to improve?

If you’re not able to answer some of these questions, then don’t worry. Your first personal development goal can be to review these questions with your direct manager and get clarity.

Tip: Write down your answers to the questions above in a format that you can easily refer back to and update in future!

2. Choose where to focus your energy

Once you’re happy with your answers to the questions above, think about where you want to focus your energy:

  • How can I better support the organization’s values?

  • How can I better support our business goals?

  • How can I better deliver on my responsibilities?

  • How can I make faster progress towards my career goals?

  • How can I use my strengths?

  • How can I address the areas to improve?

Tip: You don’t need to make detailed notes here. Just highlight the few areas that you want to consider in the next step.

It’s possible that you can improve in every area, so remember that the goal is to come up with a shortlist of just a few areas that are worth focusing on now.

3. Agree on 1 to 3 realistic goals

Now you know where you want to focus your energy, it’s time to set 1-3 personal development goals to work on now. Being focused helps to make the goals much more achievable, particularly as you will be doing this alongside all of your other day-to-day activities.

Goals should be “SMART”. This simply means that they should be:

  • Specific: It needs to be really clear what you intend to do

  • Measurable: You need an easy way of seeing whether or not a goal has been completed

  • Achievable: The goal you set needs to be realistic.

  • Relevant: It should be consistent with your wider goals (— it will be if you’ve followed steps 1 and 2 above!)

  • Time-based: You need to set a deadline for when the goal needs to be achieved.

Make sure your deadlines are realistic. When deadlines are too optimistic, they can actually be counter-productive, causing you stress as the time approaches, and frustration with the whole process if you miss your goal. 

If needed, here’s some further guidance (with examples) on how to write SMART goals.

Agree your goals with your direct manager or coach, who will hold you accountable for making progress. Research shows that having someone hold you accountable significantly increases the likelihood of you taking action!

4. Plan the actions you will take this week 

You’ve now looked at the big picture, decided where to focus, and set some awesome personal development goals. Good job!

So how do we turn these goals into action?

The temptation might be to make a detailed action plan for each goal, broken down week by week. You know… a bit like this:

Fortunately, there’s a simpler and much more effective way to plan your actions. Simply write down the actions you think you should take this week to make progress.

For example:

This approach works great because it forces you to be realistic about what you can achieve this week. Then, in one week’s time, you can review the actions you planned to take, see what helped and what didn’t, and then use this knowledge to make a new plan.

Tip: Think about how you can easily demonstrate that each task is complete to your direct manager. This makes it much easier for them to hold you accountable, and increases the likelihood of you completing your tasks!

5. Schedule regular reviews (and coaching!)

To stay on track, you’ll need to review your progress regularly — ideally, this should be at least once a week.

If you have a weekly call with your manager or coach (which we highly recommend), then:

  • Review your progress ahead of the call

  • Share your progress and plan your next week’s actions on the call

Tip: If you have less frequent calls with your manager or coach, then you should still schedule time in each week to do your own review, and share progress with your manager by email. A California study found that people who thought about their goals and shared progress with a friend each week achieved 43% more of their goals than those that did not!

Over time, you’ll start to either achieve your goals, or you may decide they’re no longer relevant. That’s great, and you can use your time to prioritize new goals instead.

As well as a weekly review, schedule time once a quarter to review that you’re still working on the right goals. In this quarterly review, you can simply repeat the 5 steps in this guide, starting by looking at the big picture again.