Many organizations in the world today have taken cognizance of the role of Personal Development Plan (PDP) as key tool for achieving results. Indeed, a clear knowledge of PDP concept is necessary for an organization to be able to satisfy the continually changing needs of its customers and employees. However, some organizations have wrong motives behind establishment of PDPs for employees. For instance, some organizations have used the PDP as a tool for coercing employees. Such organizations use the PDP as evidence during firing of employees or when any disciplinary action is taken against an employee.
This essay, therefore, seeks to define a PDP and clarify the benefits that can be gained from a PDP if used in the right way. A Personal Development Plan can be defined as the process of establishing activities or actions that one will carry out in order to progress (Gibbs et al. 2005). The main foundation of a PDP is development. However, a PDP should not only focus on personal development, but instead should focus on development in its totality. That is, it should encompass personal, professional, organisational and occupational development (Pettinger 2002). It is this totality nature that makes a PDP useful to both the organization and the individual employee (Latham 2007). It is, therefore, right to say that the PDP helps to create a positive bond between the employee and the employer. This is because it unites them to work towards the same goal. In addition, a PDP should consider the needs of an individual, needs of the organization and priorities at local and national level with equal magnitude.
The whole world today has shrunk into a global village. This has enabled faster transfer of information and knowledge. New inventions spread faster, and knowledge and believes are continually shifting positions. Therefore, an organization that wants to stay relevant in this transient and even more competitive world must shift from just being a work organization to a learning institution. It is possible that knowledge, held for a long time, can become redundant. Continual learning is, therefore, very paramount for existence and relevance of any organization (Caley 2001). PDP enables this continual learning.
In a work environment, PDP not only enables employee satisfaction but also allows for staff development. When an employee meets the targets that are outlined in the PDP, he/she feels a sense of satisfaction. At the same time strives to meet the target amidst various upcoming challenges. This enables the employee to develop. In addition, when the targets of the employee are met, then, it means that organizational targets and goals are also being met. This, therefore, culminates into development of both the individual employee and the organization.
It is also important to discuss the importance of an effective PDP. An organization or an individual employee cannot just develop because of the mere fact that there is a PDP in the organization. The PDP should be effective. For the PDP to be effective, both the employee and the employer should have the right intensions and motives from the onset. Every party should understand his/her role, and then, understand their collective responsibility towards ensuring the success of the PDP. Therefore, adequate consultation for understanding and agreement between the employer and the employee is necessary (Pettinger 2002). This should be done at the early stages of the development of the PDP in order to ensure its smooth running in the subsequent stages.
For the PDP to be effective there must be collaboration between the organization and the employee. For instance, the organization must be able to support it, while the employee should be committed to its implementation (Pettinger 2002). As much as the employee may be committed to implementing the PDP, it may remain more of theoretical than practical if the organization does not provide the necessary support. Such support may include provision of finances and time to carry out the activities that are outlined on the PDP. This collaboration can only work if it is known to both parties from the very beginning that the PDP is not malicious.
Contrary, most PDPs have not been effective because the employees and the employers do not understand their mutual responsibility and benefit from the PDP. For instance, most organizations use the PDP as a tool for inflicting fear and forced commitment among the employees. This has caused many employees to develop a negative attitude towards the PDP process. They see PDP as a tool for propagating bureaucracy, rather than a guide for learning and development.