The Six-Step Personal Development Process

Personal development is a continuous cycle. Successful personal improvement depends on the framework we establish for ourselves - goals and the strategies to achieve them.

The Watterson & Associates six-step Personal Development Process (PDP) is a repeatable, dynamic and ongoing process created to assist our clients with achieving excellence. It consists of developing corporate and individual mission statements, establishing priorities and identifying and defining company and personal values to establish a framework.

Let your journey to excellence begin here:

Step 1: Determine Direction

Where Are You Going?

Establishing Direction is Important to Personal Development

Think of personal development as a journey, similar to planning a vacation. We choose our destination, arrange transportation and achieve the desired result - relaxation! And so it is with personal development that we need to know where we're going, and how to get there to ensure desired outcomes are achieved. In other words, a framework based on the company's mission, to define and shape our development efforts, is essential to achieving results.

Who we are as an individual or an organization is neither a gift nor a limitation until we define the framework. In the same way, personal attributes, activities or goals only become meaningful as talents or limitations when we determine where we are going (our direction) and which attributes are needed (how to get there).

How to Determine Direction

Numerous resources, including seminars and publications, are available for determining corporate or personal direction.

Although we may have an abstract sense of where we are going, it is important to translate this abstract thought into a tangible, written statement. The simple process of writing down our goal is a promising first step towards clear, directed actions.

Step 2: Assess Strengths

What can I do well?

The Value of Assessments

Once we know our direction, the critical skill sets and competencies needed to accomplish personal or corporate visions can be identified. Competencies can then be compared against an individual's or organization's skills and abilities, identifying areas for development.

How Strengths are Assessed

WAI has a variety of personal development tools to assess your employees' strengths. Constructive information is presented in developmental reports for a positive approach to competency development.

Step 3: Identify Learning Pathways

What behaviors do I need to develop to enhance my competencies?

The Learning Pathway: What it is, and Why it's Important

Without new experiences and learning, new behaviors are unlikely. Even with renewed vigor and new insights, the same behavior will yield the same, old results.
In other words, if we continue to do what we have always done, we will continue to get the same results. In our vacation example, we will not be able to reach our "vacation destination."

The Learning Pathway is a new way of doing things, designed to take us to our destination.

What to be Aware of when Creating a Learning Pathway

We all feel comfortable in familiar surroundings. In fact, there is a strong tendency to cling to current ways or habits. As a result, we tend to resist exploring new ideas or learning new methods to get things done.

Overcoming this obstacle is critical to creating a successful Learning Pathway.
Tools and skills effective in a given job may not excel us to the next performance level in our current role. Increased effort and using the same tools is not enough to propel us forward. A new way of doing things is needed.

Tools to Create a Learning Pathway

There is good news, however, for managing resistance to change and implementing a "new way." Tools are available to assist your organization with mapping out a Learning Pathway. Seminars, workshops, training programs, books and tapes are some of the resources available to assist your organization with creating new tools and skills to move performance forward.

Step 4: Take Action

How can I learn these behaviors?

Why Action Results in Success

Studying a driver's manual does not by itself make one a good driver. And so it is with the skills and behaviors created in the Learning Pathway. Simple knowledge about a new way or new behavior does not make one proficient in that behavior. Once new learning is established, practicing and using that skill is imperative to making it part of the individual's behavior repertoire, leading to improved performance results.

How to Create Action

An arena to practice the new competency in is a key element to successfully adding it to an individual's long-term skill set. New procedures or work assignments using the new skill are examples of how to turn skill knowledge into skill action.

Step 5: Evaluate Results

What can we do better?

How it Ties Together

As stated in Step 2 of the Personal Development Process, assessing strengths will identify specific behaviors to modify, enabling your organization to move toward its desired direction.

In addition to identifying these behaviors, it is imperative to evaluate your progress in developing and modifying them in an observable and measurable manner. In fact, the evaluation of your results should occur at predetermined, specific times.

The Benefits of Evaluating Results

Monitoring your performance and others' perceptions of your performance can provide beneficial feedback on your organization's progress through the Personal Development Process.

Identifying situations that led to successful integration of new behaviors, as well as situations that proved challenging, will focus your organization's efforts in the development process.

Evaluation Methods

  • Communication can provide insights. Conversations among peers and within reporting relationships can identify successes and challenges of new behaviors or methods.
  • Performance Appraisals should cite instances of both successful and limiting situations and behaviors.
  • Check your Actions to ensure the appropriate arena or work assignment is available to incorporate the behavior.

Step 6: Re-Set Direction

How to Maintain Success

Congratulations! You have reached the final step of the Personal Development Process. Your journey, however, does not end here. Nurturing the newly implemented behaviors is critical to sustaining success and maintaining growth.

Maintaining success means recognizing additional competencies for development and repeating the Personal Development Process for continued improvement and return on your investment. Remember, development is an ongoing, dynamic process.

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