Developing your own management career plan
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Developing your own management career plan

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All too often, we leave our career development up to others. We don’t actively seek out opportunities to develop our skills or take on additional responsibilities that will flex our ‘leadership muscles.’ By default, we think that our boss or HR should do it for us.

As a manager, it is vital that you take control of your personal development and create a career plan. If you don’t do this, not only are you risking your career aspirations by handing the reins over to others, but you are also neglecting an essential aspect of leadership.

Proactively motivating and managing yourself, including your career development, is part of your responsibility as a manager. As you begin to show an ability to lead yourself by putting your career plan into action, it will help others see and nurture the potential you have to lead others.


Questions to ask before you start

Before you start developing your career plan, do some self-reflecting. Be honest with yourself and ask what:

  • is your passion?
  • are your strengths?
  • are your weaknesses?
  • opportunities are available to you at your current employer?
  • other advancement opportunities would you like to have available to you?
  • effort are you willing to put in?


Identify skill areas requiring further development

There are many different ways to identify the competencies you need to develop. For example, you can:

  • complete a SWOT or PEST analysis on yourself
  • ask for feedback from your boss and your peers
  • use an online assessment tool to identify your areas of opportunity.

As an example of some of the online tools available, at Leadership Directions, we use:

  • Leadership Potential Indicator© – a self-assessment to help aspiring managers identify the competencies they need to work on (see the Emerging Leaders course for more information).
  • 360 Feedback Questionnaire – to help leaders already in a management role determine which skills they need to develop (see the Leadership Skills for Managers course for more information).


Creating your personal development plan

Once you have identified the leadership skills and knowledge you wish to develop, it’s time to put together your personal development plan.

It doesn’t have to be too long or complex, but a personal development plan must have some structure for it to have any effect on your development.

  • First: Identify your current leadership competencies and areas of opportunity to work on.
  • Second: Define some goals regarding the outcomes what you want to achieve. These should relate directly the key competencies you identified in the first step.
  • Third: Identify learning opportunities associated with the competencies and how you can implement them in your work role to enable opportunities to practice the skills and enhance your knowledge.
  • Fourth: Meet with your manager or mentor to discuss the learning opportunities you have identified. Seek their support and advice, and arrange a regular ongoing meeting time to review and assess your goals and receive some coaching or mentoring along the way.


Taking action on your plan

The biggest reason people don’t take action on their plan is that the plan is not very action-oriented to start with. For example, for the leadership competency of “good decision making”, some actions to include in your plan could be:

  • Read Why Bad Decisions Happen to Good Managers by HBR and discuss the content with your manager or mentor. Seek their feedback around some of your recent decision making.
  • Ask a senior manager to mentor you through an upcoming decision you need to make.
  • Talk to your boss or someone whose decision-making skills you admire, and ask them how they make effective and efficient decisions.
  • Learn about different decision making tools from online videos and skill enhancing articles from a variety of websites – e.g. YouTube.

Make sure that you plot out your personal development plan step by step. Write it down and review it at regular intervals as this will motivate you to stay on track and help you remember to celebrate how far you’ve come.


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