How to Prepare a Professional Development Plan to Avoid 'Brain Drain’

Actualizado: 27 may 2021

What is a professional development plan and why should you create one?

A development plan for personnel is a method of assessing a person's professional life, knowing where they are and where they would like to go, giving importance and priority to the things that are really important for developing their career.

This plan establishes, in addition to objectives, the dates on which these objective must be completed and the different tasks or activities, related to the competencies of specific professional activities and duties, which must be carried out in order to achieve the objectives and to check and evaluate the progress made. This is key in order to grow professionally and develop a professional career that always seeks professional evolution, development and fulfillment through a job with a more status, responsibility and salary.

A professional development plan is a manual to guide and oversee the development and development of employee’s skills and careers with the ultimate aim of reaching the goals they set out to achieve, such as a promotion or a higher salary.

How to develop the plan

A professional development plan establishes the means and procedures to achieve professional and labor growth throughout different jobs titles and employee performance. You can create and carry out the development plan, out of self-reliance and your own interest in developing professionally, or by way the company's human resources department, to help employees establish the objectives to be achieved thus, developing their careers and generating motivation that promotes the improvement and development of personal performance in the workplace.

In order to be able to work up a professional development plan, first of all you must take into account the type of career being pursued as well as the current profession. Additionally, the goals wanting to be reached must be fully comprehended and evaluated, because aspiring to the maximum will allow you to attain a high level of achievement. Due to this, the different aspects that need to be established and developed to go through with the plan are:

  • Understand yourself: In order to know your own professional context it is necessary to engage in a self-critique. For example, evaluating the knowledge you possesses, the performance you are currently carrying out, and the position you is working in. Another important aspect is to know the duties you could take on and the position you want to aspire to have.

  • Analyze strengths and weaknesses: It is advisable to be self-critical and to carry out an analysis of your own weaknesses and strengths in order to know which are the professional aspects that you need to improve upon and thus be able to develop and elevate your career. Also, being aware of strengths will help build confidence and gain self-esteem, moving your professional career towards knowledge, skills and abilities, seeking continuous improvement and strengthening of knowledge. In this way, you will be an essential employee and stand out for your performance, in this way you will always contribute value and make a difference.

  • Analyze the current situation: It is necessary to analyze the labor situation in which you finds yourself, the experience you have and also the general situation of the labor market, and of the sector where you work.

  • Establish Objectives: You must establish a main objective and that is the maximum goal, that is, the point where you feel fully developed as a professional. This objective must be to achieve a full working career and be achieved with a timetable, for example, reaching this 5 years from now. At the same time, short (maximum of 1 year) and mid term (maximum of 2 years) goals must be established to progress, evolve, and gain confidence to reach the final objective. Therefore, all objectives must be well defined and priority given to those that are most important for career development.

  • Establish specific actions to achieve goals and develop employee skills: In order to achieve the main and final objective, in addition to those established in the short and mid term, it is necessary to establish a series of specific goals that will be achieved through the different actions that will be of great importance in order to develop the greatest possible number of professional skills and faculties, benefiting your professional and personal progression. These specific activities must be carried out in the short term, and must be achievable within 1 to 3 months, so that learning and reaching objectives is constant. These actions can continue to be carried out until the final objective is achieved. These activities could be: face-to-face or online courses, reading, getting a mentor and learning from them, taking on more responsibility at work or performing tasks that are outside your usual tasks or comfort zone.

  • Constantly evaluate progress and performance: Consistent overseeing and evaluation of overall progress, however small it may be, is necessary, as it is very important to check the evolution of performance and skills as they get closer every day to achieving set objectives as well as the final goal, being a particular desired job. The evaluation must be periodic, whether weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual, depending on the timeline of the tasks and actions that are carried out, and also on the eventuality of the objectives previously established. A critical assessment must also be made addressing the efforts and results achieved in order to see progress and continue advancing towards the objectives. For example, if an employee wants to be promoted to team leader within one year, to achieve this, several objectives must be set in a shorter period of time, such as being the top-selling employee each month, always delivering reports on time, writing them in as much detail as possible, and putting forward improvements for the sales process to the manager every 3 months.


A professional development plan increases ambition, commitment and productivity of employees because, by setting specific goals, which can be met in the short term, the employee's motivation and self-esteem are increased. Recognition of the work done by the company as well as the employee is also encouraged. Moreover, through this development plan, the employee journeys through active learning and constant effort, which leads to an increase in work performance, professional development and, therefore, a better preparation to achieve their objectives. The result of this increase in employee performance, is increased business productivity.

If you are concerned about the productivity of your company, check out our post on how to open up a conversation with employees about performance and development.

This plan helps to structure all the ideas around a professional career and prioritizes the objectives to be achieved. It also identifies the aspects that need to be improved on to achieve professional and professional success.

In short, a professional development plan is a very useful and helpful tool to be able to highlight certain objectives and serves as a guide that points out the pathway to professional growth and reach all the objectives that are intended, for example, those looking for better working conditions, a higher salary or an executive or work position with fuller responsibilities.

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