Development Needs Analysis and Personal Development Plan: an example

By John Dudovskiy

Personal DevelopmentIt has been stressed that “developing and committing to personal goals (selection) provides the constraints that are essential for development” (Mroczek and Little, 2006, p.367).  The goals of the author of this article directly relate to business management in telecommunications sector. The author acknowledges that a set of personal skills and competencies need to be developed in order to achieve this goal. However, above all the goals need to be formulated in a clear and specific manner. Marr (2009) mentions SMART requirement for goals the abbreviation standing for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.

Accordingly, the author of this article has formulated specific goals can be summarised in the following points:

  1. To become a successful business manager in mobile telecommunications sector in charge of 1 million GBP budget within three years after completing the studies.
  2. To be acknowledged as an effective leader and to be successfully leading a team of at least 10 people within a year after becoming a full-time employee.
  3. To be acknowledged as an effective, efficient and motivational communicator by colleagues and tutors by the end of studies.


Strategic learner

The process of meaningful learning is presented by Kolb (1984) as a series of events that integrate the functions of feeling, perceiving, thinking, and acting. Kolb’s learning cycle consists of four phases: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation, and active experimentation.

The theoretical framework of Kolb’s learning cycle has been further developed by Honey and Mumford (1982), who identified four learning styles as activist, reflector, theorist and pragmatic.

After taking a relevant test the author’s learning style has been identified to be a theorist. As Fee (2011) informs, individuals with theorist learning style tend to classify their observations into specific patterns and consequently generate relevant theories. Accordingly, it has been established that the best learning environment for theorists involve structured situations with specific purposes, and the availability of interesting theories and concepts.

At the same time, individuals with theorist learning style have been found to perform low in situations that involve unstructured activities and when the briefing is poor. Moreover, being in the same group with individuals who have different learning styles have also been found to negatively affect the learning performance of theorists (Excellence Gateway, 2011, online).

Being equipped with this valuable information about own learning style and its characteristics, the author of this paper is now better positioned to achieve professional goals through maximising the positive return from learning activities.

Moreover, a wide range of factors influence successful study and the influences of the most notable factors need to be analysed in a greater detail in order to ensure the greater scope for the current development needs analysis.

Motivation has been identified as one of the major factors influencing successful study by Jackson et al (2007) and the affect of this factor has been found to be directly related to the goals for the study. This information has been used by the author in a way that goals for the study have been clarified using SMART principle, and therefore the level of personal motivation for the study has been enhanced.

Learning Style Model proposed by Dunn and Griggs (1995) divides the factors influencing successful study into five categories: immediate environment, own emotionality, sociological preferences, physiological characteristics, and processing inclination.

The factor of learner immediate environment relates to the impact of external environment such as room lighting and temperature, sounds, the design of the room etc. to the performance of learners. For instance, while some people prefer to study with a background music on, whereas for others any external sound or noise can be a major source of distraction.

Own emotionality of learners, as another significant factor, relates to motivation, persistence and the level of responsibility of learners. Learner sociological preferences, on the other hand, is an alternative factor and this factor relates to the preference of the student to study alone, or as a member of a group.

Another factor influencing successful study involve learner physiological characteristics such as best time of the day for study, the level of mobility during the learning process, and the impact of outside stimulation. Lastly, learner processing inclination as a separate influencing factor relates to the differences among individuals in terms of being analytical or global, mainly using ‘left brain’ or ‘right brain’, or being impulsive or reflective learners.


Skills analysis

The author needs to develop and improve a set of specific skills in order to be a competent strategic learner and to achieve professional goals. Ellis (2010) divides skills into two categories: work-content and transferable. Work-content skills such as the ability to repair watches, or undertake a brain medical surgery are learned through on-the-job training, formal schooling, or both. Transferable skills, on the other hand, relate to individual abilities that would help people succeed in any job.

Transferable core skills that need to be developed broadly includes cognitive skills, problem solving and decision making, research and investigative skills, information and communications technology skills, numeracy and quantitative skills, communication skills, interpersonal and team working skills, personal management skills, learning skills, and self-awareness.

Nevertheless, personal development and effective development needs analysis requires from individuals a great level of self awareness. Self awareness has been defined as “the evolving and expanding sense of noticing and taking account of a wide range of aspects of life” (Burnad, 2005, p.76).

Two different methods of developing self-awareness have been specified by Blerkom (2011) as the process of introspection (looking inwards) and receiving feedback about self from others. The author of this paper has identified a set of specific skills that need to be further developed in order to become an effective learner and competent business manager.

The identification of these skills has involved the using the combination of both self awareness methods – introspection and receiving feedback from friends, colleagues and relatives. Moreover, the identification of skills development needs has also involved reflection on own previous experiences within and outside of academic settings.

The author needs to develop own cognitive skills in order to become more effective learner and business manager. Jackson et al (2007) state that the term of cognition can be explained as ‘the act of knowing’ or ‘knowledge’ and  cognitive skills relate to the  ability of critical thinking, concentrating, memorising, analysing and synthesis of information.

The need for the dramatic improvement of own cognitive skills can be explained by pointing to the vast amount of information needed to by learned and analysed by modern managers, as well as the necessity for finding creative solutions to business issues in order to get competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Moreover, the communication skills of the author also need to be developed significantly to become an effective learner and a successful manager. Communication is defined as “the act of transmitting and receiving information” (Baker, 2010, p.1). The importance of communication skills for business managers can be explained by the need to communicate with various stakeholders of the business.

It is also important to note that communication skills is not limited to verbal communication, and it also includes non-verbal channels of communication, such as posture and tone of speaking, as well as, written form of communication.

The demand for effective development planning in personal and professional capacities has increased during the last two decades fuelled by intensifying pace of life and increasing level of competition. Such a situation requires individuals to adopt a highly proactive approach in terms of formulating their career goals and identifying personal development needs in order to achieve those goals.

The first part of the paper presented above has highlighted career goals of the author and identified relevant personal development needs. This has been done through referring to secondary data and relevant models and theories. Specifically, it has been clarified that the author closely associates the future career goals with business management in telecommunications industry, and possesses a theorist learning style.

Moreover, the main factors influencing successful study have been found to include immediate environment, own emotionality, sociological preferences, physiological characteristics, and processing inclination; and the main skills the author needs to develop were found to include cognitive and communication skills.


 Personal Development Plan


Personal Development Plan


Covering theperiod from:   To:  


My goals:

  1. To become a successful business manager in mobile telecommunications sector in charge of 1 million GBP budget within three years after completing the studies.
  2. To be acknowledged as an effective leader and to be successfully leading a team of at least 10 people within a year after becoming a full-time employee.
  3. To be acknowledged as an effective, efficient and motivational communicator by colleagues and tutors by the end of studies.



What do I want/need to learn What will I do to achieve this? What resources or support will I need? What will my success criteria be? Target dates for review and completion How have I chosen these dates?
Improving leadership skills Regularly attending relevant seminarsUsing a wide range of literature on leadership


Learning the case studies of effective leaders


Practicing leadership skills in each suitable occasion

Financial resources and time to attend leadership seminarsHighly practical leadership literature



My effective leadership skills being acknowledged by both, subordinates and superiors 



One year after becoming a full-time employee, which is an adequate time to exercise leadership skills acquired during the studies
Dramatically improving communication skills To make full use of internet resources on communication skillsEngaging in speech exercises in an individual manner


Learning non-verbal communication channels

Time resources to invest in exercises and reflectionEffective online resources


Peer support in terms of providing feedback


To be acknowledged as an effective communicator by colleaguesTo obtain positive feedback from social circle about own communication skills Towards the end of studiesThe target date for review has been chosen to ensure sufficient time for the improvement of communication skills
Improvement of cognitive skills To be completing cognitive exercises in a regular mannerLooking for creative approach to deal with various issues


Employing various techniques to improve memory

Relevant tools from various sourcesSufficient amount of time resources





Completing cognitive exercises and comparing the performance to the past resultsProviding creative solutions to a wide range of challenging tasks


Being widely acknowledged as a creative thinker

The improvement of cognitive skills to be reviewed every year.Ongoing development process due to the crucial importance of cognitive skills


 Personal SWOT


  • Drive and determination
  • Time management skills
  • Self-confidence

  • Communication skills
  • Lack of patience
  • Jumping to conclusions

  • Applying drive and determination to turn weaknesses into strengths
  • Improving the level of learning skills

  • Becoming discouraged due to difficulties faced when implementing the development plan
  • Losing motivation to continue with self-development



  • Armstrong, M. (2011) “How to Manage People: Handle People Problems; Motivate Staff; Boost Your Productivity” Kogan Page
  • Baker, A. (2010) “Improve Your Communication Skills” Kogan Page
  • Blerkom, D.V. (2011) “College Study Skills: Becoming a Strategic Learner” Cengage Learning
  • Burnard, P. (2005) “Counselling skills for health professionals” Nelson Thornes
  •    Dunn, R.,  &  Griggs,  S.  A.  (1995).  Learning styles: Quiet revolution in American secondary schools.  Westport, CT:  Praeger.
  • Ellis, D. (2010) “Becoming a Master Student” Cengage Learning
  • Fee, K. (2011) “101 Learning and Development Tools: Essential Techniques for Creating, Delivering and Managing Effective Training” Kogan Page
  • Honey, P & Mumford, A, (1982). The Manual of Learning Styles. Maidenhead, UK, Peter Honey Publications
  • Introduction to learning styles (2011) Excellence Gateway Available at:  Accessed December 10, 2011
  • Jackson, C. J., Hobman, E., Jimmieson, N. & Martin. R. (2008). Comparing Different Approach and Avoidance Models of Learning and Personality in the Prediction of Work, University and Leadership Outcomes. British Journal of Psychology (10) pp. 10 – 30.
  • Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential learning : experience as the source of learning and development.
  • Marr, B. (2009) “Managing and Delivering Performance”, Butterworth-Heinemann
  • Mroczek, D. & Little, T.D. (2006) “Handbook of personality development