A professional development plan (PDP) is a document outlining an employee’s path to career advancement. Essentially, it’s a working tool for career growth that employees and managers can adjust and build upon over time.

For example, a PDP for a first-year training manager may focus on effective diagnostics or portfolio rationalization, whereas a PDP for a seasoned training manager may focus on proving the business impact of training or gaining stakeholder buy-in for new programs.

What to Include in a PDP

While employees and managers can customize PDPs to an organization’s unique goals and interests, a typical PDP includes an employee’s current strengths and weaknesses; career goals and the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) needed to reach them; and suggested continuing professional development activities. A PDP for an employee aspiring to move into a managerial role, for example, may include a leadership development course or certification program.

Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong way to craft a PDP, as long as it clearly outlines a path for career advancement in a way that benefits both the employee and the business.

Benefits of PDPs

PDPs offer employees invaluable insights into their career progression and potential for advancement. But they also benefit managers: PDPs help leaders take stock of their employees’ current skills and capabilities, evaluate their progress toward their career goals, and suggest learning and development (L&D) activities that can help them achieve them.

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