In the modern world, planning one’s professional development is of paramount significance for any aspiring employee. It is a long-term personal and professional growth process that improves the overall performance. However, this kind of development as one aspect of the employee development has increasingly moved away from various initiatives focused on developing particular skills. There is a certain emphasis on the continuous learning for everyone within an overall strategy of organizational learning (Fenwick, 2003).
The professional development can take many forms that focus on new professional growth opportunities. Nonetheless, these are merely ideas, and they must be translated into actions in order to have a real impact (Brockett, 1991). In this regard, professional growth plans may offer an approach to work through these potentially challenging tasks. Moreover, such plans involve observation of one’s progress in undergoing the necessary stages. This system encourages individuals to establish and review personal learning goals and activities related to their work on a regular basis. According to Fenwick (2003), professional development plans also seem to foster the flexibility. Although it is a highly effective practice, the frequency of its actual implementation is relatively rare. Thus, it requires an individual’s commitment, dedication and willingness to succeed and evolve as a professional in a certain sphere.
In this sense, a planning process should involve an active, conscious effort to incorporate professional developmental activities into the daily practice. The concept of planning is crucial to successful career growth. Planning is intended to facilitate the achievement of some desired future outcome.
Meanwhile, different people can approach the process of planning their professional development in various ways. Some may wish to accomplish this through a formal process that consists of clear objectives, implementation strategies as well as evaluation procedures. Others may prefer a less structured approach (Brockett, 1991). Nevertheless, it is important to note that developing even a general outline of the plan contributes towards making the professional development an ongoing priority. Otherwise, all the efforts are likely to be in vain.
The overall process of planning may involve different number of steps that need to be implemented. It depends on the precision and specification with which one addresses the abovementioned process. However, the most essential stages involved in the professional development are easy to outline. Firstly, there is an initiating phase. It allows one to establish a rationale for further development, while assessing the professional goals and desired directions. It is crucial to determine one’s strengths and weaknesses, strategies for improvement along with the time frames for its accomplishing. Secondly, the overall planning involves assessing the available resources and determining activities that are critical in achieving one’s goals. Thirdly, the chosen strategy is being implemented. This stage consists of precisely and regularly following each step of the plan. Later, it will translate into acquiring new skills or improving the existing ones. Lastly, there is a necessity to assess the overall progress. The evaluation is focused on the extent to which purposes have been achieved as well as alterations that are crucial for further improvement. Depending on the planning model one wishes to use, these general stages can be further broken down into more detailed steps.
In order to create an effective professional development plan, it is essential to identify the type of personality. There are four such types, namely: Dominance, Interactive, Steadiness and Cautious. According to the results of the assessment, the learning team consists of three members with the Cautious style (Brian Smith, Tanya Adell and Yasmine McClendon) and also one member with the Dominance style (Nashanda Kimber). The distribution of the styles allows one to assume that the group is a perfect representation of an effective team consisting of a goal-oriented leader and persistent followers. The dominant person is focused on the achievement of a goal. Accepting various challenges and taking the authority is the result of the constant need to control. However, in the context of the team, the other members counterbalance by adding an analytical and a systematic approach. The Cautious style members enjoy the process of problem solving and improving the results of their work. Being guided by a strong leader who sets the goal allows them to concentrate on the detailed-oriented execution of the tasks.
In order to augment the characteristics of the team members both individually and as a group, there is a need of a professional development plan that addresses various peculiarities in the career advancement process. According to Brockett (1991), a professional development plan involves turning ideas into action.
In this regard, Day and Pennington (1993) stated that there are always numerous challenges that arise from the very beginning of a career. It is crucial that at a certain point, a professional plateau can take place. However, in order to avoid its negative sides, there is a necessity to focus on a persistent execution of activities that form the professional development plan.
The success of the team members’ development depends on the professional development culture. Each of them needs to be involved and understand how the chosen strategy is being implemented. Problems should be fully discussed by the group. In this sense, the atmosphere of openness is of paramount significance to the team. Development opportunities should be valued as crucial to each of the team members. According to Law and Glower (1997), it can be achieved by following a combination of instruments, such as:
- efficient management and control of the information;
- open planning;
- appropriate resource allocation;
- clear evaluation as a basis for further improvements;
- facilitation of mutual support with the help of networking opportunities.
Moreover, while creating a professional development plan, regardless whether it is meant for an individual or the whole group, there are certain decisions that need to be taken prior to start of the process’s implementation. Namely, it is essential to address the significance of self-awareness, the value of the professional literature as a tool for practice, the link between and the necessity of taking a proactive approach to one’s professional development (Brockett, 1991).
It is difficult to underestimate the significance of self-awareness and its influence on the overall process of one’s development. Understanding and accepting one’s strengths and weaknesses, aspirations and value system provides the basis for planning. The abovementioned discussion of professional styles of the team members emphasized the notion that each of them is unique and that this uniqueness is one of the greatest resources. Indeed, the acceptance of one’s distinctive features allows using and improving them at the same time. It is essential to address the experience of others in the same sphere. The professional literature is an outstanding source of such knowledge. The daily commitment to activities that matter only in the long run is the basis of any development plan, but each step brings an individual closer to the achievement of the set goals. Thus, taking a proactive approach is the key for success in creating the effective professional development plan for each member of a team.