Developing myself in my current role

Do you want to do better in the role you have now? Or do you need to get ready for a change in your current role?

Start with a personal development plan. You can use your Personal Development Review or create your own plan – just follow the steps below.


To create a personal development plan, you need to know where you’re starting from. 

Try using the SWIM approach - Strengths, Weaknesses, Interests and My Values.


To identify your strengths, start with the selection criteria for your current role. These define the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for your job. Make a list of the skills you have and highlight the areas where you think you make a contribution.

Ask a critical friend what you do well and what they value in you. Request feedback on what you could change.

Review your last PDR and the objectives that are listed. Think about what they tell you about your strengths and where you can improve.

Ask your manager and/or your network for feedback.


Find potential areas for improvement: Where do you feel you could be more confident, skilled or knowledgeable? Identify situations and tasks you find challenging and where you would like to enhance your skills in the future.


Make a list of what you find inspiring in your professional as well as your personal life. Think about what motivates and enthuses you. Can you identify a pattern?

My Values

Define what is most important to you, and think about how your values have led you to define your boundaries and shaped your career so far.

Oxford’s Career Weaver can help you explore these questions. It provides a variety of short exercises to help you identify your values and work preferences, name your strengths, identify your skills and understand your motivations at work.


Be clear about what you want to achieve, and make sure to define what success will look like. Aim for a SMART goal: specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic, time-based.

Follow the steps below. Your approach will vary depending on the reason for your learning need.

  1. Learn a skill to change or improve/identify what you want to learn that is related to your current role. Is it a new skill, or do you want to get better at something?
  2. Define what success will look like. What would you like to be different for you as a result of your development? For example, do you want to be confident at contributing to meetings, manage competing demands effectively, interpret data quickly and accurately or write clear concise reports?
  3. Specify how you will measure success. For example, this could be feedback from your manager or colleagues, the time it takes you to complete a task or your personal level of confidence.

Prepare yourself for change in your current role

  1. Find out what the change will require of you that is different to what you do now.
  2. Identify new knowledge or skills you will need to acquire.
  3. Think about how you will need to change the way you work and interact with others.
  4. Define what success will look like. Which concrete changes do you want to achieve? Your development? For example, do you want to be able to manage budgets, delegate better or use a new system effectively?
  5. Specify which data you will use to measure success. This can be, for example, positive comments from your manager or colleagues, or the number of activities you complete on a system in a given timeframe.

Development opportunities are everywhere and come in many different forms. They could be a coffee with an expert, a volunteering role, or a training course.

Eichinger and Lombardo’s 70:20:10 principle tells us that 70% of impactful learning happens on the job, 20% happens in social interaction and 10% takes place during classroom type learning activities. Let’s remember the value of on the job learning.

Identify your options

Be creative and open-minded when looking for learning opportunities. There are many resources available that you might not be aware of. Here are some ideas:

  • asking people in your network to share expertise with you
  • finding opportunities to “have a go” at something new
  • taking time to reflect
  • shadowing someone who is expert in the activity you want to learn
  • gaining experience or skills in a voluntary role outside work
  • one to one coaching
  • mentoring
  • reading and desk research
  • online and classroom learning

Pick the best solution for you

Which option you choose will depend on your individual situation and learning preferences. When considering all alternatives, keep in mind

  • the ways you prefer to learn - think of your most successful learning experiences
  • how your strengths could be of help to you – perhaps you are very analytical or good at networking
  • discussing your ideas in your regular one to one meetings with your manager and during your PDR
  • the development journeys of others who have achieved similar goals
  • how likely you are to follow through - your motivation as well as practical considerations
  • the impact an activity will have on your learning goal
  • who can help you: your manager, colleagues, a mentor or contacts from your wider network




Now you are ready to put your ideas into writing, and create an achievable action plan.  When we write down our actions, we are more likely to achieve them.

Your plan could include

  • development goals
  • concrete actions and milestones along the way
  • timeframes
  • resources
  • practicalities like time off from work and funding


Follow the steps below to draft your development plan. You can also download a development plan example.


Steps Things to think about
1. Work out your development goal Think about what you want to achieve overall. What will success look like?
2. Identify the specific areas that you need to develop to help you achieve your goal. Consider each one separately Think about particular skills you need to develop, for example report writing or communicating assertively. Also consider behaviours that need to change, such as improving collaboration or handling conflict better.
3. Find your best fit learning solution Remember the 70:20:10 approach. Which learning options do you select? Which learning provider? Think also about funding opportunities and if you will need time off work.
4. Identify the actions you will you take Break this down into concrete steps you will take and achievable milestones.
5. Work out who can help you Discuss with your manager in a one–to-one or a PDR. Find help within your network or talk to your mentor or a critical friend.
6. Specify your timescale Challenge yourself, but keep it realistic.

7. Decide how you will keep track of your progress

Consider how you want to measure your success. Will you ask for feedback, do a formal review, or reflect on your learning yourself?



Many of us will spend more time in a year planning a holiday than we do planning our development.

Here are some tips to help you put your plan into action:

  1. Choose your first step, decide when you will take it and block out time to do it.
  2. Take your first step.
  3. Block out time in your diary to monitor how you are progressing against your goals and plans.
  4. Some of us are more likely to prioritise this kind of activity if we do it with others. If this works best for you, book a meeting with a friend, a colleague, or a coach to reflect on progress made and plan next steps. 
  5. Ask yourself what you have learned and how you are putting it into practice.
  6. Track changes you see in yourself. These can be confidence, proficiency, speed, accuracy, better working relationships and so on.
  7. Adjust your plan if necessary. Perhaps you realise that you could have been more precise in identifying what you need to learn or the best solution. If so, make the change. There will be little value in proceeding with a plan that is not taking you in the right direction.
  8. Reassess your situation as you strengthen your skills, deepen your knowledge and enhance the ways in which you work. Learning is lifelong and your development plan will adapt and grow as you make progress.
  9. Ask for feedback on your progress.