3 key steps to building an effective Personal Growth Plan

A Roadmap for Success

Every professional should have a Personal Growth Plan (PGP). A good PGP is an extremely effective tool in ensuring that you can grow professionally and personally. It provides a yardstick that will enable you to measure your professional growth and an impetus to continued progress. This is beneficial both to you as an individual and to your organisation.

All of HFL Leadership’s programs involve a PGP. Our experience shows that they are extremely effective in helping people to set out and achieve their professionals goals. In short, PGPs work.

But in most organisations we work with, PGPs are not properly understood and not properly implemented. If they exist at all they are not updated, and too many people do not understand what they are supposed to do and the benefits they can provide.

The first step is to create a PGP. A lot of people just don’t know where to start.

In the last year we have worked with over 300 professionals around the world in helping them build their PGPs. We have seen what works and what doesn’t. And we have seen what needs to be done for professionals like you to build an effective Personal Growth Plan.

By sharing what we have learnt we believe we can help you build a PGP that is actionable and effective, and which will help you build your career and contribute more effectively to your organisation.

Our three recommendations for building an effective PGP:

1. Build your PGP one step at a time

Perhaps you haven’t written a PGP because you are discouraged by the idea of having to put aside the time to write your goals. You need to regard this time as an investment that will more than repay itself.

A PGP enables you to keep track of where you want your career to go and what you need to do to get there. There is nothing wrong with setting ambitious goals. We often overestimate how much we can do in a short period of time, but at the same time we tend to underestimate just how much we can achieve over a longer term.

Break down your goals into daily, weekly, monthly and annual milestones. Your short term goals should be linked to your long-term goal. Think of your PGP as a roadmap. A roadmap shows which streets and roads you need to drive down to get to your destination. Short term goals serve the same function – they lead you to your longer-term ambitions.

2. Visualize your goals and measure your success

You might have a clear view of what you want to change, but you might struggle to come up with a sensible measure of success. How do you know when you have succeeded in making the change?

Our second recommendation for developing your PGP involves comparing your current behaviours to your desired behaviours. This will help you understand what needs to be changed.

Here’s an example. You might have the goal of improving the proportion of time you spend listening in conversations – say, from 20 percent listening and 80 percent speaking to 50-50. How do you measure this? 

There are two easy ways:

    1. 1. Ask team members for feedback on their opinion of the time you spent speaking and listening in a recent meeting.
  1. 2. Use of one new empathetic listening techniques you have learned in our program in each weekly team meeting. Your goal should be to move the use of these techniques into daily conversations within four weeks.

  2. You will know if you have improved if you, and others, can see objectively that positive changes have occurred.

    Here’s another good tip: Observing someone who has your desired behaviours can also provide you with ideas on how to measure success. Ask yourself how you can get from where you are now to where your role model is. They might even have some hints and tricks, so don’t be afraid to ask them for help.

    3. Be accountable

    You need an accountability strategy. You need to know that you have reached your goal, and others need to know it too. This means you need to get others involved. No one will know if you have been successful if no one knew what your goals were in the first place.

    If other people understand your goals they can help to remind you to keep to your action commitments. You need to share your PGP and your goals with trusted colleagues.

    Your manager is a good person to work with you on your accountability strategy. They can provide you with feedback and suggestions, and point you to relevant opportunities to help you get to where you want to be. Or you can share your goals with a direct report or a team member. They are a great source of feedback, because they work closely with you. They are in a front row position to observe any changes.

    What to do next

    Part of understanding what should be included in your PGP is to know your own strengths and weaknesses, and the key areas where you need growth and development. Have a look at HFL’s online FASTLEAD Development Needs calculator here. It takes less than 10 minutes to complete. It is free, and you can be completely anonymous if you wish to be.

    The Development Needs calculator will provide you with an overview of your leadership growth and development needs. It will also generate a short report with suggestions for tailored growth and development activities. For more practical wisdom on developing leadership, we recommend our book ‘The A to Z of Leadership Success’.

    Contact us at for a copy of your Personal Growth Plan template. At HFL Leadership we are committed to helping you grow your professional abilities to benefit your career, your team, and your organisation. We hope that sharing these three insights into building your own PGP will help you achieve that goal.

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