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Prioritise own development goals and targets

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NOTE: Although this page has been marked as complete, it has not yet been peer-reviewed or quality-assured, therefore it should be considered a ‘first draft‘ and any information should be fact-checked independently.

When you have identified gaps in your skills and knowledge, you will need to select and prioritise your development goals and targets so that these gaps can be filled.

Development goals will be formalised in your Personal Development Plan (PDP), which will serve as your roadmap to help you get from where you are now to where you want to be in relation to your learning and development.

SWOT Analysis

To help you to assess and prioritise your development goals, you may wish to perform a SWOT analysis. This is a process that can be used to identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Questions that you should ask yourself include:

  • Strengths
    • What am I good at?
    • What do others perceive as my strengths?
    • What is uniquely positive about me?
  • Weaknesses
    • What could I do better?
    • What do others do better than me?
    • What resources do I lack?
  • Opportunities
    • What skills must I learn to advance my career?
    • Are there any upcoming job vacancies that I would like to apply for?
  • Threats
    • Will there be changes in organisational structure?
    • Is my manager concerned about any areas of my work?
    • Am I missing any strategic targets?

Answering these questions honestly can provide you with a solid framework on which to base your priorities.

SMART targets

SMART targets are those which are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Therefore, when setting your development goals you should be detailed about what you want to achieve, set a timescale within which it should be achieved and be able to objectively assess whether it has been achieved or not (with either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’).

Concentrating on the crucial activities

Too many objectives can result in you becoming overwhelmed and time being wasted as you switch between each of the priorities. Therefore, you should set yourself just a few objectives to which you can devote your whole focus. You should also distinguish between long-term and short-term goals.

For example, you may have a long-term goal to complete your Level 5 Diploma but your short-term goal is to finish this unit (Managing Self). Your concentration should be on the current task (completing this unit), without being distracted by the bigger picture (completing your Level 5). As long as you have a sound long-term plan in place, you can be assured that as long as your focus remains on the short-term goals, you will achieve the long-term objective.

Setting deadlines and managing interruptions

When setting deadlines, it is useful to give yourself a little extra time and flexibility to accommodate any unexpected disruptions. For example, if you are completing some e-learning that is expected to take about five hours of study and schedule an hour in the morning of each weekday to do this, you may consider the deadline of Friday to be an appropriate timescale. However, all it takes is one unexpected and urgent disruption during the week to stop you from achieving your objective. So, be flexible and allow yourself a little longer than you expect when you are setting deadlines.

Another approach may be to ensure that your hour of learning each morning is ‘protected’ and communicate to everyone that you will not be contactable during this time.

Managing multi-tasking and effective delegation

As discussed above, working on too many tasks at the same time can be inefficient because your focus will keep changing. This article explains how current research suggests that multitasking can have a detrimental effect on cognitive ability.

Practically, however, there will be times when we are required to handle several tasks at once and we will need to find ways to manage our time effectively. We may look into procuring additional resources or delegating tasks to others.

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