As a woman in leadership, you already have a lot on your plate. You manage your team, contribute to your company’s growth, and balance your personal life. With all these responsibilities, it’s easy to overlook your own career management and growth. Strategically planning your career can help you take control of your professional life and achieve your long-term goals.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the critical differences between a development plan and an action plan, how to create both effectively, and the importance of strategic planning in driving your professional growth.
Understanding the distinction between a development plan and an action plan is crucial. A development plan is a comprehensive roadmap outlining the short-term steps that lead to achieving longer-term goals. It focuses on the behaviors and mindsets that will enable your success—for example, creating awareness, expanding your skill set, building your professional network, and paying attention to and changing limiting beliefs and assumptions. It is a flexible plan that allows you to pivot and re-evaluate based on changing circumstances and achievements.
The development plan answers the following: 1) What am I trying to accomplish? 2) Why is it important to me, my team, and my organization? 3) How am I going to develop in this area (the specific actions you’ll take and, if applicable, with whom); 4) When and how am I going to measure progress and success; 5) What obstacles might I encounter and what can I do to overcome them?
On the other hand, an action plan is more long-term and task-oriented. It outlines the specific steps you need to take to accomplish a goal or objective. For example, getting a degree or certification, writing a book, or getting a promotion. It is more rigid and structured than a development plan, focuses on specific tasks with deadlines, and often includes a detailed schedule. The plan answers the following: 1) What is the goal? 2) Why is it important? 3) How will I accomplish this goal (your specific actions)? 4) Who else do I need to involve? 4) When are my start and end dates? 5) What obstacles might I encounter, and what can I do to overcome them?
One critical aspect of strategic planning is having clarity about your career aspirations and aligning those with your life vision. To create practical career goals, follow the SMART acronym: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Be specific about your career goals, define the metrics by which you will measure success, ensure your goals are achievable and relevant to your career trajectory, and set a deadline to reach them.
Strategic planning is an ongoing process and critical for Black women executives. Once you have set your career goals and drafted your development and action plans, it is necessary to monitor your progress continuously. This lets you adjust your strategy or tactics and stay focused on your goals. Regularly assess where you are on your career journey, consider feedback from those around you, and be open to changing your plan as needed.
Understanding the differences between a development plan and an action plan is crucial, as is setting clear, actionable career goals. Take time to create your strategic plan, set your career goals, and prepare for long-term success.