30 Ways to Foil Development Plan Dread

Yes, it's that time of year.  Again.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it (not that you have a choice) is to create your annual development plan.  Surprisingly (said with a lot of sarcasm), most people create their annual development plan about two or three days before their annual review.  Somehow, that seems a bit wrong!

Unfortunately, I think this happens because most people look at a development plan as just another thing to do and just some more boxes to check off at the end of the year.  How many times have you thought "I don't have a clue what class I want to go to this year.  Heck, I don't even want to go to a class this year.  Who needs a development plan anyway?"  

Here's a thought:  It doesn't have to be this way!!

If you read my previous post, you read about the two questions - what do you want to do with your life, and what can you offer the world that nobody else can?  If you read the manifesto in its entirety, you may have even looked at your 1-year, 5-year and lifetime goals.  If that's the case, use your need to create a development plan to re-evaluate those goals and make sure you're on track with what you want to achieve.

Employee development doesn't have to be just attending a class and checking a box at the end of the year.  Check out this list of 30 ideas for development activities.  You might just find something that is interesting to you!  

  1. Attend a local, regional or national conference. Be sure to bring your findings back to your team. MANAGERS: Make sure you provide the opportunity for sharing to occur.
  2. Present at a local, regional or national conference.
  3. If your company has an internal conference (user groups, engineering conference, etc), apply to present at that.  Actually present if accepted.
  4. Complete a course at your local university or at an online university.
  5. Finish your undergraduate or masters degree.
  6. Write an article for a professional publication or organization.  Be sure to check the submission requirements for the publication!
  7. Join a professional organization and attend a local chapter meeting or seminar.
  8. Attend a seminar or workshop offered outside of your company.
  9. Teach a TOI (transfer of information), Lunch & Learn or something similar for your team or another team in your organization.
  10. Create a video on a topic of your expertise and post it to your internal platform (Sun employees can use the Sun Learning Exchange)
  11. Review 2-3 journals or magazines every month to monitor industry trends.  You can access many journals through EBSCO Host - commonly available in public libraries with your library card.
  12. Read Harvard Business Review or California Management Review to understand business trends.  Both of these can be accessed through EBSCO Host as well.
  13. Pick out a top business book - read it and discuss it with your manager.  This would be a great opportunity to take your manager out for a cup of coffee to get his or her undivided attention.
  14. Select a technical book to review.  Discuss it with your team, your manager, or your mentor.
  15. Mentor another person.
  16. Ask someone to be your mentor.
  17. Volunteer on the board or a committee of a professional organization
  18. Google free webinar <insert topic> and see if there's a free webinar that interests you.  Attend and share what you learned with your team.
  19. Start a blog to share your thoughts with others.
  20. Participate in an online community - respond to a blog, start a group on LinkedIn or Facebook, etc.
  21. Attend an instructor led class offered through your company.
  22. Attend a web-based class offered through your company.
  23. Engage with local colleges to be a guest speaker or host a workshop on campus.
  24. Participate in Sun Technology Fairs at local campuses.  (Okay, this is really targeted toward Sun employees, but, hey, that's what I am!  You could adapt this to "participate in career fairs (or something similar) at your local colleges).
  25. Look for volunteer opportunities with state and local government agencies to provide IT help.
  26. Plan a technology fair, science fair or something similar for your company.  Recruit people to present and share ideas.
  27. Join an open source project and get involved in the product development, forums, or aliases.
  28. If you have a Masters degree, check with a local university or college about becoming an adjunct professor (sometimes called a contract or network instructor).
  29. Volunteer to teach computer skills (or your area of expertise) at a Senior Citizens Center.
  30. Ask your local school districts if they offer any kind of special event around kids and technology.  Volunteer at that event.
  31. BONUS 1: Coordinate an internal conference where best practices can be shared for a team within your company - a sales conference for sales people; an IT conference for your technical team, etc.
  32. BONUS 2: Volunteer to teach a class at a local Recreation Center or Community Center.
  33. BONUS 3: Apply to teach classes for a continuing education program (typically offered through local universities or community colleges).

Okay, so I gave you a list of 33 when the title promised 30.  Sorry about that, but once I go started, I just couldn't stop.  Consider it a gift!  :)

As you can see, there are many more options for "development" than just attending a class.  If you have other ideas that should be added to this list, please leave a comment in order to share with everyone else.  Hey, then you can add #20 to your plan!

Happy planning! 


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My blog is a look inside my head on ideas about learning, organizational & personal improvement and other stuff. I manage Oracle's Managing at Oracle team, but all thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely my own!


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