August 23, 2022
20 min read

The Ultimate Personal Development Plan Template That Will Get You Noticed

In this article:

Employees look for training and personal development opportunities at their respective companies. The lack of these opportunities is one of the main reasons they decide to quit. HR professionals and team leaders can avoid this using a personal development plan template to help employees reach their personal development goals. In such a case, it would be a win-win situation for both the company and the people working there. 


A proper template ensures you help individual employees work on their weaknesses and build up their strengths. This is a direct way to set personal development goals and find the shortest way to reach them.


According to a survey, 94% of respondents said they would stay at the company longer if it invested in their careers. In addition, professional and personal growth leads to higher retention. Besides, 58% of employees claim that professional development contributes to their job satisfaction. Moreover, employees who feel respected, empowered, and as if they are making a difference are much more likely to stay in a company—those who don’t have less than a 35% chance of staying. 


A proper template ensures you help individual employees work on their weaknesses and build up their strengths. This is a direct way to set personal development goals and find the shortest way to reach them. It enriches their experience at work and has a positive impact on their career. 


On top of that, it also attracts new hires to your company. Almost 60% of millennials list development opportunities as key factors in applying for a job. As this is the case, it’s high time you work on your employees’ personal development.


Let’s take a closer look at a personal development plan and see how it correlates with personal development goals to tap into each employee’s power. Keeping that in mind, we should start with a personal development plan and later proceed to personal development goals for everything to make perfect sense. 

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What is a personal development plan?

A personal development plan (PDP) is an agreement between an employer and employee that outlines that team member’s objectives. It wants to empower employees to analyze their professional life and work on self-improvement. Employees can easily achieve goals when they have a clear picture of their performance. They understand what it takes to reach a specific milestone because of their personal development plan.


HR professionals and managers usually help employees create a personal growth plan. However, team members don’t need to wait for their next performance review to learn new skills and identify areas that require improvement. They can make a personal development plan themselves. Employees can establish short-term or long-term goals and set realistic deadlines to fulfill them.


Having a personal development plan template helps all parties. You can just fill in the required fields and create a clear plan for an individual’s development. Add an HR management tool to that equation, and you’re set to take your workplace to the next level.

 Related: Top 12 Performance Review Software in 2023


Remember that a PDP must be tailored-made for a specific employee. You can’t take someone else’s plan and expect it to work for them. Each person has different skills and experiences. The plan reflects that.

Why is it important?

 Personal development is all about a process of self-improvement. The plan helps employees:

  • Outline specific goals and what they should do to achieve them
  • Identify the strengths that ensure they grow in their personal and professional life
  • Recognize what skills they need to overcome their existing weaknesses

It is essentially a roadmap that guides them through the process of achieving goals.

What kind of benefits can you expect from a personal development plan? Here are the improvements you will see with a good PDP in place:

  • Boosts employee motivation – a personal development plan makes employees aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They can use their strengths to work more productively and learn how to minimize their weaknesses. This boosts their motivation and encourages them to do more. 
  • Minimize staff turnover – it can cost more to find a new hire than it does to retain an existing employee. You should give your employees a personal development plan template to show them you’re committed to their improvement. They are more likely to stay at the company if they have a plan.
  • Advances existing skills – employees create a career plan focusing on their development. They identify performance development areas so that they can grow in the workplace. While improving existing skills, they also acquire new ones to achieve career goals.
  • Improves goal-setting – a PDP outlines both long-term and short-term goals. Managers can teach employees how to break down those goals to make them more achievable.

A PDP benefits both the company and the employee. Introducing personal development plan templates makes the process easier for managers and HR professionals.

Let’s see how you can use a PDP.

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How to use a personal development plan

According to research, 74% of surveyed employees think they don’t progress at work due to a lack of development opportunities. You can help them reach their full potential with a personal development plan.


A PDP is an effective way to learn a new skill or master a particular one. Employees can also use it to boost their careers. They just need help from their managers or HR team members.

If you’re a team lead or an HR professional, you can use a personal development plan to:

  • Conduct a skill-gap analysis – a PDP helps you understand which skills your employees lack. The company’s subsequent training efforts should strive to fill the gap.
  • Identify employees who want to grow – this plan also identifies team members who want a promotion. For example, let’s say your company is looking for a Project Manager. Instead of hiring someone outside the company, you can promote one of your employees.
  • Align employee goals with business goals – one-on-one meetings reveal individual goals. When you know a team member’s career growth plans, you can align them with business goals and help them grow.

Related: 5 Meeting Agenda Templates to Use Right Away


Remember, most employees crave professional development opportunities. If you disregard their development needs, you’ll have a team of dissatisfied members. How can a company grow when the employees aren’t happy?

How to make a good personal development plan

personal development plan template review result

You should go through several steps to create an effective personal development plan. We’ll list those steps below.

  1. Ask employees to perform a self-assessment

It all starts with us. We can’t grow or improve if we don’t reflect on ourselves. That’s why your employees must do a self-evaluation first. After all, they know their interests, professional life goals, skills, and knowledge best.


You can ask them the following questions to fuel their path to self-improvement:

  • How satisfied are you with your work progress?
  • Is there something you can do to reach your full potential?
  • What are your career goals? Do you have the skills to achieve them?


Employees can reflect on their performance and determine what they can do to develop personally and professionally.

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  1. Set clear goals

Every employee should know what they want to achieve in their career. If they don’t, you can help them set and achieve goals. These objectives should reflect their strengths and personal development plans.


When creating a PDP for your company, we suggest you focus on SMART goals. They are:

  • Specific – the goal should be precise and to the point. There’s no room for ambiguity. For instance, instead of saying, “I’m going to write an article this week,” your employee should say, “I’m going to write a 2,000-word B2B article.”
  • Measurable – there should be criteria that measure progress. You can agree on how you will assess whether they’ve achieved the goal.
  • Achievable – ensure your employees don’t set unattainable objectives. They should know if their skills and resources make it possible to achieve a goal.
  • Realistic – your employee should be willing to work towards achieving an objective. This depends on their skills, so they should evaluate them before agreeing to something.
  • Time-bound – encourage them to set a realistic deadline to meet their duties.


Setting these goals helps employees split their objectives into smaller, more manageable milestones. They complete a goal one step at a time which derives great pleasure and satisfaction. 

Related: The Best Performance Improvement Plan (+Template)

  1. Determine which strategies to implement

After setting the goals, it’s time to consider how employees will achieve them. The strategies vary depending on the objective. For example, if an employee wants to work their way up the career ladder, they might want to attend an online course that helps them expand their knowledge. They should consider the skill set they need and the best way to build those skills.

  1. Explore resources

Employees cannot achieve professional and personal growth without any further resources. It’s impossible to learn something new if you don’t have some help along the way. You can help employees determine which resources they need. Those resources include online courses, learning platforms, interactive flipbooks, conferences, niche-specific articles, webinars, and even training. Look at their personal development plan to figure out what can benefit them.


If you follow the above steps, you can make a good personal development plan for your employees. One thing that can help you—having a personal development plan template.

Personal Development Plan Template

As your company grows, you’ll have to focus on more and more employees. Each of those employees requires their own plan. Not to mention, you must follow their career development and growth after the goal-setting process. What can you do to make the process more manageable? You can use a personal development plan template. PDP in HR is a popular way to track personal and professional development progress and make adjustments along the way.


Using a template for personal development needs is quicker and more efficient. Imagine if you need to create personal development plans for every employee. This would be time-consuming. Don’t make this mistake—use personal development plan templates. These PDP templates help you create a clear picture of your employee’s goals and the steps they should take to reach them.

You won’t need to worry about missing important information that can affect your employees' personal development. We have prepared a personal development plan template to jumpstart your team members’ success! The PDP template is concise and identifies areas your employees need to answer to achieve success. 

You can use the following personal development plan template to help your company grow with talented individuals.

Personal development plan template

Employee name: _________________

Position and title: _________________

Date: _________________

Development area: _________________

Personal development goals: _________________

Top strengths: _________________

Areas to improve: _________________

Development opportunities: _________________

Action plan: _________________

Skills and knowledge needed for personal growth: _________________

Necessary resources: _________________

Evaluation period (how often will you check the progress): _________________

Deadline: _________________

Review (How am I doing): _________________

Personal development plans are the way best to get to know your employees and see how your company can influence their success and growth.

Here is a filled-in PDP sample you can use as an example of what a completed personal development plan template should look like:

Employee name: John Doe

Position and title: Social Media Manager

Date: July 30 2022

Development area: Time management

Personal development goals: Organize my time better to help my team members and learn how to prioritize tasks

Top strengths: Social media planning and delivery, communication skills, writing engaging content

Areas to improve: Time management and organizational skills

Development opportunities: Become a team leader of the company’s social media department

Action plan: Use to-do lists to better organize my day, track each task’s progress, report my progress to a supervisor

Skills and knowledge needed for personal growth: Time management and leadership skills

Necessary resources: Online courses about social media marketing, tools to better track the performance of social media posts and analyze our audience

Evaluation period (how often will you check the progress): Every month

Deadline: Three months from today

Review (How am I doing): N/A (to be completed every month)

Use personal development templates like this to make the process of creating a PDP for employees simpler and more time-efficient!

How to get started with a template

Achieving personal growth is easier with personal development plan templates. But the journey doesn’t end there. You must also take certain steps to ensure your employees are improving and meeting their goals.


Here are some strategies you can take after an employee submits their personal development plan: 

  1. Review the plan immediately – make sure to go over an employee’s plan. You must check if their goals are attainable and clear.
  2. Remind employees to check the plan periodically – a team member might forget what areas they need to improve. You can remind them to read their plan to see if they are working on the right skills.
  3. Assess their improvement so far – you can plan a one-on-one meeting with an employee. Ask them to be honest and tell you how they are doing, if they need additional help and which changes they see.
  4. Determine their success – personal development plans are about creating specific goals. The plan would be futile if you don’t check if an employee has made progress towards their goals.
  5. Decide what to do next – if you find any issues, you must devise a solution. Don’t abandon your employee—show them you're committed to their success!


When you know all about the personal development plan, it is time to proceed to the next crucial step, setting personal development goals. These two aspects come toe-to-toe and are vital for making goals and planning a reality.

What are personal development goals?

Personal development goals, or self-improvement goals, are the objectives people set to improve themselves in many ways, including habits, mindset, skills or even work ethics.  Although personal development goals are not necessarily connected to the job setting, they can help people improve their professional and personal lives.


Some of the most common areas for personal development goals include:

  • change of mindset
  • improving hard skills
  • working on social skills
  • character building

How can they help people?

Working on personal development goals has many benefits, but here are five areas where it can help employees the most:

Better focus 

One of the biggest benefits of setting personal development goals is a better focus and a clear sense of direction. Clear goals inspire people to act and easily decide on their next steps. This pushes them to be proactive and get more things done in their personal and professional lives.

Free time endlessly scrolling on the phone without a clear purpose or spreading work throughout the day is easy. Specific goals will motivate people to become more proactive and efficient.

Increased productivity

Goal setting teaches individuals prioritization techniques. This way, it is much easier to decipher what matters the most and take care of it instantly. Another major advantage has concrete, measurable goals to work towards. This makes it possible to evaluate people’s success precisely and encourages them to keep improving. The more goals they tick off, the more satisfied they will be. Over time, this will also increase general productivity. 

Better professional relationships

Self-improvement goals can improve the quality of people’s relationships with their colleagues and business partners. By becoming a better version of themselves, they're inspiring everyone who gets in touch with them to do the same. Their growth mindset is reflected in others as well. As a consequence, positive relationships in your team could dramatically improve. People in self-development tend to be better listeners and more compassionate toward others.

Improved work-life balance

Employees that don’t have a healthy work-life balance are prone to burnout more than others. That’s why this aspect shouldn’t be neglected. Employees should be encouraged to pursue their passions and learn new skills that don’t have to be work-related. Personal development goals can help people find time for themselves and remember who they are outside of their job. Consequently, they will become more motivated, and their productivity at work will improve.

Career advancement 

Finally, working on personal development goals can positively affect professional life and bring professional success to everyone. Many skills are transferable, meaning one can use them in other areas. Communication skills, soft skills, and creativity — are all crucial for success at work. New skills can help employees better serve customers and even get promotions. Sometimes working on personal development goals can bring insights and ideas that can revolutionize how you work.

Best practices for setting personal development goals

As an HR or business mentor, your job is to share some resources on goal-setting with your team. Of course, each person’s goal will be different, but here are some universal strategies that everyone can benefit from, regardless of their goal.


Here are some points you can ask your employees to do:

  • Identify what you want

 This is a fun exercise you can do as a team. According to one statistic, employees engaged in meaningful activities are 87% less likely to leave the company.

You can ask them the following questions:

  1. What goal would make the biggest difference in your life? 
  2. Is that goal in alignment with your vision for the future?
  3. What is something you’ve always wanted to learn but never seemed to have enough time for?


This exercise helps them connect with their personal development goals deeper, which will help them commit. When it becomes hard, and it feels like quitting, it's important to connect with your why and remember why you started.

  • Set milestones for your goal

Big goals are not only frightening, but they can also be too vague. The next step is to break your personal goals into achievable milestones.

There are three good reasons to do so:

  1. The goals become more doable.
  2. You feel more motivated to work towards your goals.
  3. It's easier to measure your progress.


For example, someone's personal development goal could be to learn French. That's too vague. That person would be much more motivated if they created smaller goals for each month or week. 

  • Set a day and time to work on your goal

As Michael Hyatt once said: What doesn't get scheduled, doesn't get done. Set yourself up for success by turning your goals into plans. It means that you should allocate time and space where you will be dedicated to working on your goal.


It will be much easier if your goal becomes part of your routine. It doesn't have to take a lot of time, especially in the beginning. The most important thing is to make it a habit.



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Examples of most common personal development goals

personal development plan template



Here are the most common personal development goals related examples: 

  • Improving your communication skills. This goal can improve professional relationships, the atmosphere of the whole team, as well as the results you get with clients.
  • Mastering time management - Time management is one of the most important skills for your own success. Today it's even more challenging due to the distractions around us. One can learn different time management strategies from books, but it's important to try them and choose those that work in your life.
  • Mindfulness - Mindfulness is one of the most effective stress management techniques, and everyone in the corporate world needs it. Your mindfulness practice could consist of meditation, visualization, breath work, or sitting silently for a few minutes every morning.
  • Developing a growth mindset - A growth mindset is essential for success. Maybe you need to work on your mindset if you've been stuck lately. Some of the ideas include journaling, affirmations, or reading self-improvement books.
  • Networking - One of the common goals is to grow your network and meet more people. This can be done through organizing networking events or joining clubs and communities on the topics that interest you.
  • Learning a new skill - The best way to keep your brain sharp is to challenge yourself to learn a new skill! Choose something that interests you, whether crochet or graphic design and be patient with yourself because every new skill takes time.
  • Creative thinking - Many people don't know it, but creativity can be learned! You need to give yourself space to let your mind wander, and ideas will come. There are also different exercises to boost your creativity, from design thinking to creative writing.
  • Reading habit - One of the most common New Year's goals is: I'd love to read more books this year! Reading has many benefits, and it can be a life-changing habit. It's important to set realistic goals for yourself. Your first goal shouldn't be to read one book a week. Instead, your goal should be to get into the habit of regularly reading.

Personal development goals for work examples

We'll now go into more detail and show you how to set personal development goals properly.

Improving leadership skills

Leadership is one of the most valuable assets that can benefit your employees in many ways. According to Forbes, it helps employees boost productivity, engagement, and independence. 

Here is how your organization could help employees improve this skill:

  • Organize internal workshops - You don’t need famous motivational speakers and leaders to organize a successful workshop. You can also organize internal workshops where managers and executives share their practical experiences with younger employees.
  • Organize leadership challenges - It’s important to understand that one doesn’t need a title to be a leader. It’s about behavior and the way you treat others and tackle problems. To make it more fun, you could organize leadership challenges where each employee has to do one small task that shows leadership capabilities.

Become a better networker

If one of your team member’s goals is to become a better networker and create stronger relationships, you should first ask them to define what it means for them and why it's important. Next, they should list actions that will get them there. The steps should be concise and easy to follow.


The list may look like this:

  • Read a book about communication
  • Talk to people that are great networkers
  • Practice being an active listener
  • Commit to going to networking events every month
  • Reach out to your new connections


They should also set some milestones, for example, I want to meet 10 new people by the end of this month. And then, you can create a plan of how they will do it. If you know that someone in your team lacks accountability, you can encourage them to share their goals with your other colleagues so you can support each other. 


As an HR, you could also introduce your team to the concept of an accountability buddy. It means that each person gets another person that keeps them accountable. They’re here to support each other and track their progress together.

Common mistakes to watch out for when setting development goals

common mistakes in personal development plan template



Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when they set personal development goals:

The goal is not measurable

One of the first rules of goal setting is that personal goals should be clear and measurable. If people can't measure your progress, how can you know they're going in the right direction?

Some might say that certain goals are simply not measurable, and that's true. However, in that case, you can help people track their activities. They can measure how much time they dedicate to the goal weekly to ensure they're on the right track.

The goal is not something people want

The worst thing is to choose a personal development goal just because it's something that's "good for people" and "should be done". Achieving personal development goals requires time and dedication. That's why it's essential to help your employees choose a goal that's meaningful to them.

People don't have the right mindset

A positive mindset is crucial for continuous self-development. Even if some goals are out of people’s comfort zones, they can still work on those. Many people have limiting beliefs that prevent them from achieving their highest potential.


The rule is - if you want to succeed, it's essential that you believe that you can do it. If you lack self-confidence, you won't be motivated enough, leading to procrastination.

Next steps

Now that people have set their personal development goals, it's time to do an honest assessment and see where they currently are. The best way to do it is during one on ones with employees.


Take some time to think about the following topics and encourage people to be honest with themselves. Here are some questions to ask employees should ask themselves:

  • Did I allocate enough time to my personal goals?
  • Did I have all the resources I needed for achieving this goal?
  • What were the biggest obstacles?
  • What can I do differently next time?
  • Where can I get the support when I need it?


Even if they haven't achieved their goal, they should be patient with themselves. They can start again, but this time with a better strategy and more support. 

On the other hand, what if people achieve all personal development goals with success?

First, take time to celebrate and congratulate your employees. Too many people take their success for granted and always look for a new challenge. Right now, they should be proud of how far they've come!


Here are some things you can ask your employees:

- ‘’If you enjoyed working on this skill, you may want to take it to the next level. You can challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone once again and become even better at it. At this point, you may even consider getting a certification or something similar.’’

 - ‘’Or, you can choose a completely different area to work on. If you worked on your physical health, you could now switch to emotional intelligence or the other way round.’’


Conclusion: Personal Development Plan and Goals

Helping your employees work on their personal development plan creates a positive workplace. Employees are satisfied to see their company cares about them and doesn’t see them just as “seat-fillers.” With an effective personal development plan template, you can easily discover each person’s skills and weaknesses. You get to grow the talent you already have and nurture an impressive company culture.


As you can see, self-growth is a never-ending process. There's always room for improvement. Adopting a growth mindset and entering the field of personal development could be one of the most positive things you've done for yourself. If you're a manager or business owner, you should encourage your people to set personal development goals. They will not only make your employees happier and more productive, but they will influence everyone around them in a positive way.


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FAQ: How to Set Personal development goals

What is a personal development plan?

A personal development plan (PDP) is the practice of consistently adding new skills, knowledge and competencies to yourself in areas of your choice. It is a clear and documented outline that shows what you aim to achieve to attain better fulfillment and growth. A personal development plan does not have to be restricted to your career alone, as it also concerns your finances, education, relationships and other interests.

What is a personal development plan example?

A personal development plan could simply be 'Get a promotion at work next January'. To achieve this, you need a detailed plan to guide (documented) and steps to get the promotion. Such steps will include: taking a management training course, requesting a performance appraisal with HR, networking better with the line manager, etc.

What are the key elements of a personal development plan?

A personal development plan should include the following elements:

  1. A clear reason showing why you want to achieve your plans.
  2. A defined vision of where you want to be.
  3. A defined timeframe to help you prioritize the different areas of your PDP.
  4. The skills and resources you need to meet up with your plans.
  5. Your expected milestones to keep you on track.

What are individual development goals examples?

Some of the most common personal development goals include learning a new skill, developing a positive attitude, breaking bad habits, effectively managing your time, etc.

What are the 5 areas of personal development?

These are the 5 main areas of personal growth:

  1. Mental (working on your mindset, learning new skills)
  2. Social (working on your communication and networking)
  3. Spiritual (inner peace, meditating)
  4. Emotional (emotional intelligence, personal boundaries)
  5. Physical (physical health, proper self-care, fitness)

What are 3 goals for your career development?

The following 3 goals can influence your ongoing professional development: becoming a better communicator, enhancing your networking skills and learning leadership skills.

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