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With 87% of Millennials stating in Gallup research that personal development opportunities are a key factor in their professional satisfaction it is clear that a dedicated project manager should be focusing on providing those for his workforce. While previously, sending employees away on a vaguely work-related seminar once every two years might have passed for professional development, in the current environment something far more tailored is required.

A progression plan is the most obvious solution to your employees’ desires for greater personal development opportunities. This should lay out a clear pathway of continuous growth which both you and the specific team member can reference to observe progress.

To make sure you’re creating an effective progression plan that works for all parties, here’s a handy guide to making one.

  1. Set up an initial meeting

Let the employee know that you wish to have a discussion about their professional development and to create a progression plan. Advise them to consider where they would like their career to be headed and how they believe you can help. Inform them a week in advance so that they can make notes and do their research.

  1. Find out where they want to be
  • Ask the team member where they see themselves in one, three and ten years.
  • Ask them if there is any difference between where they would like to be and where they think they will be and what is causing the discrepancy.
  • Ask them what they believe is most important now in order for them to be progressing.
  1. Use GROW to identify goals and pathways

For added structure on career objectives, it can be useful to employ GROW goals to flesh out ideas. These are:

  • G – Goal
  • R – Reality
  • O – Options/Obstacles
  • W – Way Forward

This method is useful for clearly identifying what the employee wants, what’s stopping them from getting there and how those obstacles can be overcome.

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  1. Build the foundations over the first meeting

As well as your report doing their research, as their manager you should also have prepared possible solutions to their needs. These can include:

If this might seem like a lot of work to be putting in, it’s good to know that as most professional pathways within the same field will be quite similar, that after you do this research properly once, it will only need tailoring to suit each individual employee after that.

  1. Follow up regularly

Creating a team member’s progression plan can be very uplifting and leave both of you feeling very positive about the future. This good feeling can turn to disappointment however if time passes and very little is actually happening. Therefore, it is important to check in regularly, at least once a month with a more in-depth follow-up at their quarterly or six-month review. Not only will this allow you to assist your report in achieving their goals it will also reassure them that you have a sincere interest in their professional development.

Personal development opportunities are an understandable motivator for employees, especially Millennials. By understanding these needs and being able to create an effective career progression plan you will be able to keep your staff satisfied while also improving their skills.


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Preview: Gartner’s 6 Practices for Managing Portfolios to Drive Business Value
In the Gartner Market Guide for Adaptive Project Management & Reporting guide, Gartner, Inc. provides recommendations and evaluation criteria for executives and PMO leaders assessing Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions. This guide outlines the adaptive project management and reporting process flow as well as a market review of current providers in the following categories:

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