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ATD Blog

You Are in Charge of Your Development

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Do you have a yearly development plan for yourself? If so, fantastic! If not, why not? Many of us abdicate our development and assume someone else will suggest it, provide it, and make it happen. But who is the most important person to consider in your development? You are!

Now that we have that out of the way, instead of waiting, hoping, and possibly being disappointed, take charge of your development.

How can you create your development plan? Start by asking yourself some questions.

1. What do I want or need to learn in my current position or move to a future position?
2. What can I learn or do that will stretch me out of my comfortable zone?
3. What talents do I have that can be used in my role that I am not using?
4. What positive and constructive feedback have I received that provides an opportunity to learn or do something different?

From the answers to these questions, determine several key areas that you want to develop in for the year. For each of these key areas, determine the ways that you can develop in that area.

How Can You Develop in Your Key Areas?


Resources Internal to Your Organization Resources External to Your Organization
Courses, e-learning, videos, books Courses, e-learning, videos, books, podcasts
Mentor Mentor
Volunteer to lead or participate in a cross-departmental project ATD courses, conferences, certifications, local chapter meetings
Shadow an employee whose strength is in the area you are seeking to develop in Volunteer for a professional association or nonprofit to use or learn new skills
Speak with your manager to gain their help and support Ask someone to coach you informally or formally
Form a book club and learn with others in your organization Schedule informational networking with people in roles you aspire to

I think an example might help. One of the stretch goals that I wanted to attain was to be a speaker at the ATD International Conference & EXPO. I said it and wrote it down but did nothing to move the goal forward. I signed up for a coaching session at an ATD International Conference & EXPO and the coach encouraged me to set specific steps to make it happen. The first time I applied, I was accepted as a speaker, and I have spoken at almost every conference since then. Don’t hold yourself back, especially with your stretch goals. Don’t wait for others to develop you.

How Can I Solicit My Manager’s Support?

Prepare for a meeting with your manager by making a business case of how pursuing these development options will benefit the organization, your manager, and you, especially if there is a large time commitment or monetary commitment. Show the value the investment will bring. Consider what you are asking from your manager’s point of view. Allow time to brainstorm solutions because your manager may know of options that you are not aware of.

Ask for their help and support. Most managers will support and provide ways to develop. If you do the planning ahead of the meeting, it will make their role easier. Once you get their support, have a plan for how you will accomplish your development plan with time frames and regular updates with your manager.

A few managers may not see the value or not want you to grow and move to another function. Don’t let that stop you. Pursue your development plan on your own time and with your own money.

You have a choice. You can wait and hope that you will be developed, or you can act, create a plan, speak with your manager, and move your plan forward. Start now.

About the Author

Amy Dinning is a training and talent development leader with extensive experience working with all organizational levels. She helps with setting the strategy, creating, promoting, and delivering talent and learning solutions designed to support the organization’s business plan. Amy is passionate about creating an interactive and enjoyable business environment that supports learning and growth.

Amy is currently the senior talent manager at CommScope. She previously served as manager of leadership and talent development for Saint-Gobain North America, where she was accountable for the leadership, talent, and people development of 19,000 employees. Prior to her time at Saint-Gobain North America, Amy worked as a clinical education and learning partner for AstraZeneca.

Amy created and has been the chief facilitator of Jump Start Your Job Search workshops, which have been offered twice a year for the last seven years. She serves as co-lead of the ATD Leadership & Organizational Development Special Interest Group and as a board member, orientation leader, and programming manager for the My Career Transitions networking group. Amy has a master of education in instructional systems and design from Penn State University and a bachelor of arts in business administration from Grove City College.

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