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  • Writer's pictureJames Mcgregor

Start as you mean to go on

Retailers should look to a much more optimistic future, saying goodbye to a period of tactical shifts and landscape challenges, the wiser ones will take some time to look not only at their own business but their own personal growth. Often these follow appraisal reviews with a need to “show willing” to develop skill sets required by the business.

Very rarely delivered alone, they need good line management and/or mentoring. Without this it starts to gain that late January Gym membership feeling; great intentions, super start, tailing off to poor attendance, excuses, and the inevitable guilt. This annual trip of shame happens more in retail than in other businesses. Many other businesses do not have the huge customer interaction in which to hang some blame or excuses on. If the first issue is a lack of follow-through, the second is the complexity of the challenges set. I recall reviewing a PDP from a marketing director last year and this well-meant and earnest individual had a task pad on her PDP as big as her job, daunting was not the word for it.

Keep it simple, but relevant.

There are many great models available to decide where your time is best spent on yourself, and we use them frequently to help people make choices on the paths to take. Once this is done, however (and let’s be frank it should be agreed, never imposed) then it is a matter of keeping it alive and becoming part of the fabric of your working life. This becomes the third challenge, keeping it relevant.

We have a Personal Development Plan Template on the website, which you can download and follow which will assist in keeping things simple and having some agreed goals. It’s self-explanatory but give us a call if you get stuck. I’d encourage you to look at your plan as a maximum of 5 things you will do to improve. This is how I do mine!

Ideal structure to your PDP :

  • One goal that is about a specific skill set that will help me do my job better, this is technical as that is not my forte.

  • Two goals that are about behaviour or relationships, frequently about understanding colleague or clients more and how best to assist. I am specific about who this pertains to and what I need to do to learn more.

  • One goal about improving something I or another had identified I am not very good at but should be. Often a painful one, this is given through feedback and has the least chance of being successful without help.

  • One goal about personal growth, irrespective of work or career. This is often the one ignored but also the most rewarding. It might be a language or sport or even a type of cuisine, by starting from a low knowledge base you appreciate growth so much deeper.

There are no hard and fast rules about forming a PDP, experience does help as does objectivity. Before you start constructing it have all the relevant facts to hand. This means talking to those who work with you, getting feedback (not just from those who say nice things), and reviewing your own personal goals.

In summary, there are four steps to a great year of development:

  1. Decide on your career goals/ambitions and discuss them with your mentor or line manager.

  2. Collect honest and robust feedback about your skills and behaviours.

  3. Construct a plan using the template that is alive and comes out every week rather than every year.

  4. Select a coach or mentor who can understand what you do and challenge you, the gym buddy you will never let down!

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