How to Build a Professional Development Plan for Your Team Members

In order for your team member’s to be happy, they need to know they’re working from a plan.  That there’s a goal they’re working toward, and that you care about helping them reach that goal.  In this article, I’ll explain the basics of building a professional development plan, for you, and for them.

  1. What is a development plan?
  2. What are the key components of an effective professional development plan?
  3. How to create a professional development plan

What is a professional development plan?

A professional development plan is really simple.  It’s just a one-page document that shows the steps a person needs to take in order to reach their career goals.

A professional development plan can be as simple as series of bullet points on a piece of paper that you tack on to your bathroom mirror.  Or, it can be as detailed as a strategic plan that you’d build for your business.

Whichever format you choose, all professional development plans contain the same basic features.

What are the key components of an effective professional development plan?

Here’s what every professional development plan should contain:

  1. Where do you want to be in 10 years?

Great business people don’t think of their lives in weeks or months; they think in ten year blocks.  So the first step is to decide where you want to be.  Do you want to be a CEO?  Do you want to be retired or working part time?  Do you simply want to get better and better at something you’re already good at?

Divide this into three categories:  Work, health, and personal.  Choose three goals under each category.  This is what goes into the 10 year part of the plan.

2. What are you happy with today?

This is a simple list of all of the things that are going well.  Bright spots.  We want to acknowledge that the person is building on a foundation of success.

3. What are you not happy with?

This part covers areas that need to change this year in order for you to reach your 10 year goals. This may include a lack of training, a need for coaching, or bad habits that hold you back.  Typical bad habits include:

  • Excessive gaming/eating/wasted time
  • Not keeping promises
  • Not speaking up when you should

4. What’s one habit you want to work on this year?

Choose one of the many you listed.  Simplicity = focus, and the clearer you are about which habit you want to fix, the more likely you are to achieve your goal.

5. What are three goals in each area (health, work, and personal) that you want to achieve this year. Take your cue from the 10 year goals you created, and break them down into one year chunks.

6. How will you hold yourself accountable to reaching your professional development goals?

Accountability tools include:

  • Telling friends
  • Posting your goals at your workstation or on your bathroom mirror
  • Joining a peer accountability group
  • Hiring a professional coach

How to create a professional development plan

To create the plan, sit down and write it quickly.  Don’t think too much or self-edit.  Just write down what you think should be in each category.

Now, put your plan away for a day or two and take it out again.  Edit the plan.

When it’s locked down, print it out and get started achieving your goals!

In summary:

A professional development plan will help you achieve your goals.  It will also encourage team members to stay on your team and not leave for someone else’s

  1. What is a development plan?
  2. What are the key components of an effective professional development plan?
  3. How to create a professional development plan

Additional resources

Thanks for reading this article on How to build a professional development plan for your team members.  Below are additional resources from Professional Leadership Institute, the global provider of online human resources and leadership tools:

Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” here:

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