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Three tips for planning your professional development

As the new year rolls around, many of us find ourselves thinking of the future and the ways we’d like to grow. Whether you want to learn a new skill, broaden your expertise or take the next step in your career, a professional development plan is your roadmap to reaching these goals.   

Unfortunately, as the months start to fly by the best-laid plans often go awry. Here at IML ANZ, we often hear from managers whose busy lives and competing priorities make it difficult to maintain their commitment to their own development.  

To overcome these obstacles, managers must be intentional in the way they approach their development. Read on to find our three top tips that will set you up for development success.

Setting great goals

The first step of any professional development plan is figuring out what you want to achieve. Some goals—such as receiving a promotion or gaining a degree—are easy to work with, where others, particularly skill-based goals, can be a little more difficult to identify. 

A great resource for managers looking to find areas to develop is the IML ANZ Management Capability Framework.  

You may want to look into plotting out your goals using a goal-setting framework, like SMART. Frameworks allow you to interrogate your goals and draw out details that you may not have considered. Being intentional and setting great goals for yourself makes it easier to take the next steps in your professional development.

Think outside the box 

Many people still think of that professional development is something that only happens in a seminar or classroom, but this is not the case. There are a wide variety of resources available today which can help you tailor your development to meet your personal taste and lifestyle. 

Webinars, podcasts and audiobooks are a great option, as you can download these and listen to them when it’s most convenient, like on your commute or at the gym. If you’re an avid reader, there are thousands of great articles and books available both online and in hard copy that you can access. Members of IML ANZ have access to thousands of resources on Leadership Direct, available through the Member Portal.  

There are also plenty of options for those who prefer a more hands-on approach. You might consider looking into special interest groups, like the IML ANZ Speakers Group who meet monthly to develop public speaking skills. If you prefer an expert-led experience, you could consider a facilitated program or workshop, like our new virtual workshops

Sticking with it 

While clever planning can go a long way, sometimes it’s hard to maintain this momentum. Managers are accountable to many other people, and it can be easy to let your own development fall to the bottom of the list —after all, the only person who misses out is you.  

It can be useful to set aside regular development plan review points throughout the year and book them into your calendar. This can provide you with a little space throughout the year to look at where you are in your development journey, make any adjustments, and recommit yourself to the process.  

If you feel you could benefit from more accountability you might consider getting someone else involved, such as your direct manager, a peer, or even a group of colleagues. Share your plan with them and schedule in regular meetings to connect and reflect together on the progress you’ve made.  

Finding time to commit to your professional development can be difficult, but with clear goals and a little careful planning you can set yourself up for success. 


This article was written by Kate Millar MIML, Member Delivery Coordinator at IML ANZ

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