I ran a mini training course for some other managers this week on the importance of having a development plan in place. We're all meant to have one but sometimes it's hard to know where to start.
So before coming along I asked them do a little home work.
It doesn't take long to do in the scheme of things, but if taken seriously can have a profound impact on your working life.
It's a technique I learnt on a coaching course a year ago. I've gone through the process myself, and have used it with a range of colleagues who I either line manage, coach informally, or who I mentor. One poor bugger even had to do it when I interviewed him.
Without fail though the Post It Note thing as I call it, has left every participant with a clearer idea of the motivational forces that drive them.
In the space of an hour they also arrive at three or four simple actions that go on to form the basis of a personal development plan.
So it does what it says on the tin. It is personal (often tripping into home life as well as work life), and forces you to make small but important changes to how you approach things.
And because the plan of action is straight forward, achievable, and initially based on the next seven days, it is more or less guaranteed to be a success. So far so good anyway.
I’d urge you to give it a go.
You won’t lose a stone in seven days, and I can’t promise to make you rich quick – but it will make you feel happier, and more confident you are managing your own destiny.
So here's what you need to do.
Take five Post It Notes.
Take a pen.
Think about your ideal job.
Then write down on each Post It Note one of the most important things your ideal job would have.
It's important to forget where you work today, and what you do.
This is about imagining your perfect job and describing the best possible elements of it.
To help you get started, here were my five from a year ago:
1. Work-life balance
2. Being perceived as an expert by people I respect
3. Inspiring others
4. Solving problems
5. Having fun
You’ll notice these five are not too specific. They are not about doing tasks, they are about the things that motivate and drive me. They could've been many other things like earning lots of money, or travelling, or managing large teams of people.
They also weren’t the first five that came to mind and only crystallised during stages two and three of the process.
The next stage is to put the five statements into order of importance with the most important at the top.
This requires some discussion with your partner and a fair bit of clarification as to what you really mean by the description on each Post It. Sometimes you need to rewrite them and move the order around.
The next stage is to score them all out of ten based on the job you do today.
This part requires a lot of honesty.
If everything is seven or above then you're in the ideal job and my work here is done.
Normally though there are a couple of Post Its that are around the two or three mark and it is these ones that you should start with.
Having picked a low scoring one to focus on, you should consider what you can do in the next seven days to take it up by one point. You need to think about taking a small first step in the right direction.
I normally encourage people to come up with three small actions that are realistic, within their gift, and they are committed to doing. In fact I ask them how confident they are that they can do each one. Then ask them how committed they are. Then I get them to put pen to paper.
The final bit is to email me a week later with confirmation they have achieved each one.
If so, why not come back in a week and let me know how you got on.