https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2015/10/14/a-four-step-guide-to-planning-your-development/

A four-step guide to planning your development

Dr Janet Barker
Dr Janet Barker

Mid-year is a point at which we all take stock. Many of us revisit our development plans and find that - like our New Year’s resolutions - we have let things slide a little. So, now is a good time to take a fresh look at our development.

I’ve spent the last 16 years working in learning and development, specialising in leadership and management, dealing with many questions about what learning works and how to achieve career goals. The key to answering these is to have a plan.

Here are some of the things I do to ensure I have a development plan that helps me realise my goals.

Review your development needs

Not sure where to start? Try Civil Service Learning’s Self Assessment Tool. Consider what feedback you have had from others. Asking for others’ perception of your strengths and areas for development can really help us identify our blind spots and think about what we could be doing better.

Personal Development Plan gridSet your goal

Start with a clear goal. Or, as Stephen Covey, author of ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’, puts it: “begin with the end in mind”. Powerful goals start with words like ‘give’, ‘achieve’, ‘learn’, ‘write’. Having decided on your goal, you then need to set out in detail what success will look like. The more specific you can be about what success looks like and the context, the easier it will be to measure how successful you’ve been.

Examples might be:

  • learn how to use Microsoft Excel to create a spreadsheet, including calculations and graphs to be able to present data for the senior management board
  • develop my skills in giving feedback to be able to give clear and constructive feedback to my team, enabling me to tackle underperformance and support team members to reach their potential

Find your best way to learn

Having clearly set out what you want to achieve, you now need to consider how you will get there. Too often we jump to the simplest solution - for example, ‘that looks like a good course’ - rather than considering the best way to learn a new skill.  

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Break down your learning into bite-sized elements. This not only helps you to check that you are making progress but also enables you to get the most out of the time you have available.

We all have preferences for the way we learn, so consider how you like to learn. If you’re not sure what your learning preferences are, take this quick test.

Don’t forget, though, that to really embed your learning you often need to use more than one learning approach. You may love learning through reading, for instance, but it is unlikely you will ever pass your driving test without having practised actually driving a car.

How do you make learning stick? You need to be motivated to learn, put it into practice as soon as possible, and keep revisiting it. One of the best ways to embed your learning is to teach it to someone else, as this very process embeds the learning in our memory and ensures we have deeper understanding of the topic. So go on, share it.  

To find out more about different approaches to learning, have a look at Civil Service Learning’s Guide to Learning in the Workplace or, for some quick ideas, the 39 steps is a good place to start.

Track your progress

Write down your plans. It doesn’t matter which form you use, whether you use a department-specific one or a simple table that you create yourself. In fact, you don’t even need to use a set form. Research by Dr Gail Matthews tells us that the very act of writing our plans down increases our chances of success. Combine writing it down with having someone who can help hold you to your commitments and you’ll increase your chances by 42%.

We are always learning. Developing ourselves doesn’t have a completion date – in fact, I find that the more I learn, the more I find out I need to learn. So check your progress regularly and enjoy the lifelong learning experience!

77 comments

  1. Comment by John posted on

    What is this current obsession with "developing" staff? Many of us are more than content to come to work, do the job we are employed to do in an enthusiastic and professional manner, and then go home!. It seems our leaders are determined to wring the blood out of the preverbial stone!
    Perhaps when we start to receive a realistic pay increase, we might feel more inclined to be developed!
    Personally after 28 years, and 8 major changes in job role I've been developed to death!

    • Replies to John>

      Comment by Martin posted on

      Well said John!
      The simple question is am I doing my job well? If the answer is yes, then let me do it!
      If I am being told that, after 13 years in post, I need developing for my current role then how the hell have I got this far? I have no desire to get promoted as all that entails is a trebling of my work load for little reward and masses of pointless bureaucracy that is meant to help but just hinders everyone.

      What is wrong with just doing the job I am paid for and then going home?

      • Replies to Martin>

        Comment by Kerry Williams posted on

        Can anyone please tell me why we are bothering with any of this at all. Development to what end? Fine for the senior Civil Service and those in or around Whitehall I imagine but utterly irrelevant for the majority as most of the wider Civil Service are busy going absolutely nowhere with no hope of ever progressing beyond their present grade. The current trend also appears to be for work of higher grades to be downgraded to the lowest practical level possible so that people can have more responsibility and greater complexity of work without the commensurate increase in pay. And I use the word "downgraded" because that is precisely what it is. It is not "reclassification" as the currently trendy buzz-word puts it but "downgrading" and if this is the new way forward then what can there possibly be for any of us to aspire to?

      • Replies to Martin>

        Comment by Caroline Crane posted on

        I agree with the above comments. It's just a job I come to do and I think I do it quite well. If I'm not my manager needs to tell me. I do not want promotion although there is no opportunity to progress anyway but a decent pay increase is needed especially for those who are doing the job and not spending all their working hours 'developing'.

      • Replies to Martin>

        Comment by Carole posted on

        I so agree Martin and John! What did happen to coming in and doing a good job? I have been in a managerial grade for more years than I care to mention and ALWAYS achieve or exceeed my performance objectives so why is that suddenly not good enough?
        The current appraisal system is totally de-motivating and needs to be scrapped!

    • Replies to John>

      Comment by Alan posted on

      Well said John, This article starts with one BIG assumption, and that is that my end goal is anything more than getting paid at the end of the month.

      Please can we look into this harrassment cloaked as the 1-2-1 process?

      Can I please take a cut in pay and NOT take part?

      Can I please just get on with my day to day work?

  2. Comment by Wendy posted on

    Well said. Having done 44yrs how much more can I develop, all the courses that are relevant are the same ones that keep coming around that I've done already. I'd like to just get on with the job & yes if I'm having problems then be made aware of it before the end of the year but otherwise just let me alone to do the job. I have no interest in promotion & only need to continue working to pay the mortgage, once thats out of the way, retirement here I come. Why waste mine & the line managers time on pushing for development when theres only a couple of years involved now & I don't intend going for promotion, spend the time on the younger ones who do want it.

  3. Comment by Mike posted on

    John and Martin,

    well said, twice over!

    I too am one of those who just comes in, does a decent job (at least I think so as I've made it through my first 28 years!) and goes home-it's a job, a means of earning money. I can see no point in being developed unless it leads to a pay rise-I certainly don't want to be developed in order to do downgraded work which when graded at the higher grade I was considered unable to do!

    There is a whole culture developed around discussing what we can change this week, what we can improve, whilst the work that produces the Departments income is processed by those like Me, who just want to come in, do it, and go home! Sadly, we're out of fashion at the moment. But things change........

  4. Comment by Chris posted on

    John, Martin, you are both spot on in what you say. Doing the job we are paid for and serving the public are no longer what is required. The way I see it, is that there is an idealogical way of thinking behind the way civil servants are treated under the current (and former) administration. The decreasing numbers of minions are expected to jump through all sorts of farcical hoops, to simply achieve their objectives (not necessarily perform their job well). Whilst the increasing numbers of managers, meet all day trying to decide how to micro-manage and create more hoops to jump through. The end product being more and more unhappy/disillusioned civil servants leaving through redundancy/retirement/ill health. Thus, helping to fulfill the Government's insatiable craving to reduce the state. It is all a cunning plan!!!!!

  5. Comment by Peter posted on

    Hear hear Unfortunately the people that need to read this post and take it onboard wont bother and this pointless drivel on setting new objectives and endless improvement will just eat up more of our valuable time and make us less productive.

  6. Comment by Peter Irons posted on

    Whilst agreeing, and accepting that many of us are more than capable of the work we do, there are also many of us that want to learn new or improved skills. Should we then criticise our employer for providing us with the time, tools, and encouragement to expore those possibilities?

    • Replies to Peter Irons>

      Comment by Alan posted on

      The option is wonderful, as long as we can say no to it.

  7. Comment by Bern posted on

    Like others who have made comments, I have during my working life been developed to death to do my job; could I now, just be left alone to do it.

  8. Comment by Anthony posted on

    All very well saying plan your development, but after doing all the mandated learning there is, there really is not any more training & development i can do. If you want me to gain so-called "professional" qualifications away from O & A Levels (yes I am that old), then give me the financial reward gor gaining them via my pay packet.

  9. Comment by Mark Jones posted on

    Mark - 20/10/2015

    I agree wirth you both. I've been in the Civil Service for 33 years. I've done a good job wherever I've been and that's all I want to do. Now, having had my Mid Year I'm criticised for "putting my head down and getting on with my work". I'm told I don't demonstrate the "hows" so am heading for a Must Improve by the year End. Is this any way to boost morale of the staff? Is it a way of making us so disillusioned that we leave HMRC - an underhand way of reducing staff perhaps? With every day that passes I believe it is. Conditions were nothing like this 33 years ago.They stink!

  10. Comment by Mary posted on

    I think it might be helpful to take these guidelines and expand it into our non-working lives. Learning things like gardening, playing a musical instrument, or whatever your down time goals may be.
    Like it says at the end: "Enjoy the lifelong learning experience!"

  11. Comment by Glen Cocker posted on

    Well said both contributors.
    I'm £380 a month worse off than I was in 2010. No ambition, no development. Let me do a job I might enjoy-if there is one. We make "widgets". Let us make them well and get results for people.

  12. Comment by Adrian posted on

    Get rid of the terrible Performance management system, the comptenceys and the self assessment tool and empower managers to fairly assess thier staff not have to meet a % of box 1 % of box 2 % of box 3. Performance management and devlopment in the civil service is a very bad joke .

  13. Comment by David Rennie posted on

    Nothing wrong with doing your job and going home but as a Union Learning Rep and a convinced participant and believer in lifelong learning, I am sure all of us could develop new skills and knowledge. Not only can this be useful to ourselves, our families, our communities and our employer but also, some of us actually enjoy the learning process itself.

    • Replies to David Rennie>

      Comment by Anthony posted on

      I'm all in favoue of the MoD/DE&S offering learning & development, but I've reached the stage where if "the managers" want me to gain any extra qualifications, then they can provide the financial incentive to do so, via my pay packet at the end of the month.

    • Replies to David Rennie>

      Comment by K Cross posted on

      'a colleague-23/10/15'- I take great pride in my work thank you. Not wanting to be promoted and wanting to do a job well and then go home do not make you 'average'.
      I personally would (in theory) like to progress to an EO (am an AO now)- but not just for the sake of it. If I can find a role that i can do well and enjoy and not take over my life I would consider it- and am looking. But courses are not easy to get on, departmental sideways moves are virtually non existent and promotion is exceptionally hard.
      If everyone develops and moves- who will do the jobs that need doing? Yes, self developing is important- but I can do that at hoome in a much more enjoyable way thank you very much- i would much rather learn a musical instrument or language, than how to run projects! The courses I would like to do- ie learn how to do Microsoft etc- are only available as elearning- not exactly the best way to engage a subject:(
      The main problem with the current system seems to be that it is being forced- 1-2-1's (i think) are menat to be a kind of informal mentoring to support colleagues/staff- too often they don't happen/happen infrequently/are tick boxes or focus on what the department wants at the expense of the staff member....

  14. Comment by Chris Watson posted on

    I agree with two people above. I have being doing my job for about 27 years and updating the skills required as I need to.

  15. Comment by Joanne posted on

    Please look for the positives in this though- the best bit of this article was the 2 practical examples of real life development aims- such as creating a spreadsheet. Wherever we work the world doesn't stand still and we need to keep up with IT skills and procedural changes. Elsewhere its called CPD.

  16. Comment by Graeme posted on

    Ditto to all the above... Most of my team work here because it's the local big employer NOT because they want a career in the civil service. They would rather be left alone to get on with the job. The current PAR system is the biggest de-motivator possible.

    While we're on the subject of development I'd like to know how the 'Positive Action Pathway' ever got past the politically correct scrutiny of the powers that be. A clear case of positive discrimination if ever I saw one.

    By all means make development opportunities available but let's stop pushing it mindlessly on the whole work force. The majority of staff do the same job day in and day out and have little need or desire for development. They want to come to work to do their jobs to the best of their ability and then go home. Their job is to put bread on the table.

    For those that want development, need training, or really do seek an ascending career in the civil service then this can be identified by them or their line management and so on instead of constantly, pointlessly, telling staff they must develop !!

    Rant over.

    • Replies to Graeme>

      Comment by A different Terry posted on

      "While we're on the subject of development I'd like to know how the 'Positive Action Pathway' ever got past the politically correct scrutiny of the powers that be. A clear case of positive discrimination if ever I saw one. "
      If I get paid a £ for every time someone posts misleading info on positive action, I could retire in comfort.
      Poitive discrimination is illegal in the UK. if you truly want to know how your employer decided to take such a course , read section 158 of the Equality Act and rummage through some of your department's equality stats for staff in post. It is not a particularly difficult piece of legislation to follow.

      • Replies to A different Terry>

        Comment by Chris Hack, Positive Action Pathway Manager posted on

        Thank you for your comments. It may be helpful if I explain the rationale for developing the Positive Action Pathway and why this intervention is considered to be positive action rather than positive discrimination.

        The Pathway was commissioned based on equality analysis evidence which showed barriers to talent progression for specific under–represented groups at Senior Civil Service level and feeder grades. For example, although the latest ONS workforce statistics show that 10.6% of our workforce is from a minority ethnic background, this is not reflected at Senior Civil Service level where only 4.1% are from a minority ethnic background. Similarly, the latest ONS data shows that 8.9% of all Civil Servants have reported a disability compared to only 3.2% at Senior Civil Service level. These findings were mirrored by four separate independent external research reports undertaken to identify barriers/inequalities experienced by each of these groups, all of which endorsed the need for positive action. I have attached below a link to each of these reports.

        https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-refreshed-talent-action-plan You may find it useful to read these.

        The Positive Action Pathway seeks to tackle barriers to talent progression for people from under-represented groups by providing development opportunities to enable them to compete on a level footing. It does not, however, guarantee individual’s progression or promotion and this is clearly stated in supporting communications. Participants are still required to compete for promotion opportunities alongside other colleagues, with promotion determined on merit.

        There are lots of alternative development programmes available on the Civil Service Learning portal and other mainstream talent programmes such as the Fast Stream and Future Leaders programme, which are available to all staff.

        The Pathway fully meets existing Equality Act legislation requirements for taking positive action as there is clear evidence led equality analysis to justify this. It is about leveling the playing field by removing barriers experienced by under represented groups and is not positive discrimination.

        I hope that this response is helpful.

  17. Comment by Dr Carl posted on

    I agree with John and Martin's comments. Unfortunately there has sprung up a whole empire dealing with "performance, appraisal, development etc etc" and these people must keep on thinking up new stuff to justify and maintain their own existence. I'd hate to guess how many thousands and thousands of hours (and therefore thousands and thousands of pounds) are wasted each year on this bureaucratic nonsense. If only we could be treated as adults and allowed to "opt out" of needless and unecessary "development"......................Think about it - what's the worst that could happen?

  18. Comment by Heather posted on

    I myself have been employed in the Civil Service for 35 years,17 of these have been in the same job (my own choice as I had no desire to move or be promoted). What a complete waste of time in the completion of this document (I am who I am & this will not make me a different person in any way) & to be quite frank about the overall Performance Reports the Civil Service have got themselves tied up in knots about these reports & if individuals were allowed to get on with their jobs which we are paid to do (for the same pay) instead of wasting mine & my Line Managers time we would have a much happpier environment.

  19. Comment by Aphra posted on

    Totally agree. After 20+years and so many changes I am no longer bothered about a career in the MOD even if there were the chances to progress. I feel completely demoralised by the pay and the opportunities. Dont even get me started on the current PAR system!!

    I always put 100% into my actual job but I am fed up with the ever increasing amount of 'admin' that seems to be taking over my day - I just want to do my job to the best of my ability and go home.

    I have completed college courses, online courses, face to face learning, on the job training, I am always up-to-date with my mandatory training and a learn a new PAR proceess every year!
    Having said all that, I would actually like to go back to collage one day a week and gain more qualifications. I would like at least one professional qualification thats relevent to my current role. I would even consider doing a Phd, a Masters... maybe even a Doctorate, who knows!
    But, that opportunity does not exist anymore within the MOD. I am not allowed to enrol in external training. I am not allowed to travel unless it is Operational or Health & Safety related, I am not allowed overtime and if I wanted to move area to continue my career I would receive no help to do so.

    I used to be proud to work for the MOD, I used to be enthusiastic and strive for the bonuses but it has been beaten out of me over the years. I am done.

  20. Comment by BJ posted on

    No point in developing skills and knowledge if you don't get opportunity to use them. Danger is that you get an awful lot of people being over qualified/developed for the jobs they are doing and that leads to mass frustration and low morale as evidenced by al these comments.

  21. Comment by Nick posted on

    It would interesting to hear what the author thinks about the comments made with regard to just being allowed to do the job.

  22. Comment by Sharon Kinsey posted on

    I have agreed with all the comments that have been posted. But what I can see - if you wish to learn new skills and knowledge than fair dues take up those opportunities being offered.However the department (s) should respect, understand and not hound people through the PMR system if they choose not to take it up but just want to get on with the job they are doing and are not interested / seeking promotion or skills . At the end of the day it should be your choice to update, improve or aquire skills. Not everyone may want to continue this path of learning through their life time. At the end of the day its should be your choice and the decision should be respected.

    • Replies to Sharon Kinsey>

      Comment by Marion posted on

      I do so agree.

  23. Comment by Steppenwolf posted on

    Re- the begining of this page, A learning Stick, embed your learning, How did you eat an Elephant!!!!! People are making a fortune out of this infantile effluent, I want to do my job to the best of my ability. Now I am required To have examples and behaviors!!! A waste of my time and an disgraceful waste of Taxpayers money! Ihave made my mind up to leave and go back into the real world. Where I am allowed to get on with my job without interference from Snake Oil Merchants and con artists.

  24. Comment by Sarah Parkin posted on

    I have actively sought development opportunities during my employment on the belief and hope that (coulpled with my hard work on the job) I would develop to a higher level. I have now been passed over for promotion twice both times by candidates with less experience/qualifications and am beginning to realise if you want to succeed in the workplace it is about being the loudest and most noticed; and not neccessarily for the right reasons. On the plus side I now have some great qualifications to take my services elsewhere!

  25. Comment by Paul Wheatley posted on

    Looking at the comments, I think a lot of people could do with some development around positive behaviours.

    • Replies to Paul Wheatley>

      Comment by John posted on

      Positive behaviours????.... Just doing your job IS a positive behaviour. Personally I'd rather do my job and please my customers than waste my time collecting reams of evidence, striving not to be put in the bottom 10% of staff. How much more negative can you get.

  26. Comment by NJ posted on

    After spending 17 years in the Civil service I have done all the mandatory training and a few extra one's, however, in recent years i have asked to go on several courses that have been advertised to help develop me ready for promotion opportunities........ assuming they will eventually be one.

    Of the 3 additional courses I have requested for future opportunities I have been told..... Sorry we can't afford it due to savings, It is not needed for your current role (even though it would in the next grade up) and sorry you can't attend the course because we can't let you be off training for all those days during the year.

    I have now come to the conclusion, if you want to progress in the Civil Service you need to a) be in London, b) pay for any "USEFUL" training yourself c) don't expect any thanks from the powers that be and finally d) don't expect the opportunities to come along before you pass normal retirement age.

  27. Comment by fanwa love posted on

    I have been in the service 11 years, PAR scares me to death, i dont understand it. It is not in plain english. I have to get other people to help me . Being a telephony agent theres not a lot of development i can undertake. I was marked down for the first time ever , for not participating enough in activities or volunteering for things..im sure they picked on me for silly things a couple of months before hand, in my opinion,because i think they ear marked me as i was an easy target ,to be one of the two people on my team to get a must improve rating. Well sorry im part time , but i do have a life and four children to take care of. Ive got enough on my plate with out the stress of all this. Im good at my job , i always give my best so i agree it is just a measure to force out the older staff on older contracts because we are a pain in the xxxx. and employ new people on new contracts.

  28. Comment by Janet posted on

    Interesting to see peoples’ views. We all need to decide for ourselves what learning will make a difference for us. Sometimes a tip from a colleague has saved me a lot of time and effort. So you don’t always need to plan and write a learning objective, just asking a colleague to spend 10 minutes to share their knowledge or skills can make a big difference.

    Dr Janet Barker

    • Replies to Janet>

      Comment by K Cross posted on

      Dr Janet Barker- "We all need to decide for ourselves what learning will make a difference for us. Sometimes a tip from a colleague has saved me a lot of time and effort. So you don’t always need to plan and write a learning objective, just asking a colleague to spend 10 minutes to share their knowledge or skills can make a big difference."

      The point of the all the discussion is that that option is not available- we have to have plans and schemes- just asking a colleague is not classed as enough- but maybe that is because we are at the 'bottom end'- maybe it's different higher up??

  29. Comment by Ruth posted on

    Would Dr Barker like to put her observations on all these comments? Doubt it! I too am part of the group who come to work do the job and go home. I am almost 64 years old and see no point in development or progress. I am not looking for promotion even if there was any.
    Surely someone somewhere could suggest that employees towards the end of their working lives should be exempt from this nonsense once and for all. We went through a process called "Lean" which I would suggest, that this process is far from its meaning, taking up valuable working time and that of supervisors and beyond!

    • Replies to Ruth>

      Comment by J Peasemold Gruntfuttock posted on

      Totally agree with Ruth about the nonsense that was LEAN - which was flavour of the month a year or so ago and has been quietly forgotten about by those who do the actual job at the coalface and is only harped on about by those in the teams whose existence depends on the propagation of this sort of cliched drivel. Processes that used to involve two people and took a couple of hours now involve eight people over two or three sites and take three days and several spreadsheets - as Douglas Adams once wrote :- 'recorded in triplicate than buried for three months and recycled as firelighters'. The phrase in our office now for a 'business improvement' that clearly isn't is 'I detect the hand of LEAN'........

  30. Comment by Julie Anderson posted on

    Absolutely agree with everyone! What is wrong with coming in and doing your job efficiently, effectively and professionally? Lots of people want to simply come into work, do a good job, deal with the lack of resources and decent computer systems, and get paid at the end of the month.
    Not everyone is ambitious or chasing promotion - if I want developing I know I can ask, but why are people being admonished if they are not interested? What is wrong with doing the job and doing it well?
    I've been told that for my yearly report just coming in and doing the job would not result in 'achieved' and the bonus reward... we now have to show that we're doing more than the basics of the job. I doubt our Prime Minister has to do that.

  31. Comment by Rita Fletcher in Portsmouth posted on

    I FIND IT IS ALWAYS NICE TO LEARN NEW THINGS ESPECIALLY THE WAY TECHNOLOGY IS MOVING FORWARD SO FAST NOWADAYS. THE SKILS WE LEARN AT WORK, SOMETIMES CAN BE IMPLEMENTED IN OUR EVERYDAY LIFE. AS THE SAYING GOES YOU ARE NEVER TO OLD TO LEARN NEW THINGS.

  32. Comment by Susan posted on

    Peter, whilst I agree with all of the comments above, I take your point. I think what we need is the opportunity to learn and improve (if we want to) without being made to feel that we're somehow failing if we don't!

  33. Comment by Anon posted on

    Paul ... how patronising!!!!!

  34. Comment by Steve posted on

    Whilst I have every sympathy for the good intentions of "the good doctor" and the intentions of management to demonstrate to staff that there is a dimension beyond just turning up and putting in a good shift, unfortunately the appraisals carry a threat of punitive action for those who don't play the game. This is, i believe the underlying reason for such hostility.

  35. Comment by Traveller posted on

    I appreciate to an extent that some people are satisfied where they currently and/or indefinitely reside in terms of their career, knowledge and skills, and/or other aspects of their life more generally; and there are people who strive to improve themselves and/or the world; and there are those in the shades inbetween.

    However, I'm finding the overwhelming tone of this page disheartening in the extreme in two respects.

    '(...) Working to pay the mortgage, once thats out of the way, retirement here I come.' I prefer the prospect of 'carpe diem' over being a lifelong autopilot to the finish line, however I respect that is my own view.

    Furthermore, there's a degree of vehemence in many of the comments. I recognise I might not be able to relate to some of the individuals in their specific departments or organisations, and their presenting obstacles, however I - naively or perhaps otherwise - see life as working with what you have, and striving to go beyond the constraints or modify one's 'goal-posts' rather than complain.

    • Replies to Traveller>

      Comment by Felix posted on

      Traveller,
      If you are happy to work with what you have, that is fine. However, any "vehemence" (such as it is) expressed in the vast majority of comments is surely an expression of "striving" to put a stop to such utterly misguided, neo-liberal managment nonsense? What if senior managment stepped on the learning curve by starting to take seriously the opinions of educated adults, presumably capable of independent critical thought?

      • Replies to Felix>

        Comment by Traveller posted on

        I think perhaps I lack context, as I don't quite understand the degree of anger levelled here.

        Felix, regarding your first sentence: Please read the continuation of my sentence, which doesn't theoretically indicate I'm content to work with what I have in some aspects of my life; and would like to extend through constraints.

        I think a degree of offering self-development methods is a good thing, however perhaps my organisation within the Civil Service offers less coercive/intensive/paper-ful support in comparison to what appears to be many of those here as I truly can't relate to pride-offended fury nor viewing challenging myself as a hindrance to the routine of life.

        I've argued that consistent happinness equates with a sense of progress in one or more areas of a person's life, and even if the support offered to staff is more nefariously-motivated by Orwellian forces than I anticipated; I prefer to see it as an opportunity to at least think about what I'd like to work towards.

        Perhaps there should be two variants of self-development processes open to workers. One for those keen to progress in their careers. One 'lite' edition for those who are satisfied where they are, however for their supervisors to ensure they're functioning adequately and productively within their role.

        Disclaimer of sorts: Excuse me if I unwittingly offend anyone satisfied within their role and looking forward to retirement. While this isn't something I can relate to and am biased against, I do consciously recognise and understand that this is only my view.

        • Replies to Traveller>

          Comment by Steve S posted on

          Traveller,

          As a Civil Servant you shouldn't be biased against anything. I hope diversity development is top of your lengthy wish-list.

  36. Comment by James Singers posted on

    Why don't we just leave development to butterflies, they do it so much better. Quite frankly, as above the ridiculous wages we get for the responsiblity is a disgrace, reminiscent of Victorian workhouses.

  37. Comment by JS posted on

    I too agree with most if not all of the comments above, what we need is the opportunity to learn and improve if we want to without being made to feel that we're somehow failing if we don't want to! Regardless of age, experience, length of service or pending retirement, we should not be penalised for choosing to take or not to take opportunities. Neither should we be expected to pay for or be denied training we (feel we) need.

    The current performance appraisal system is not working, if you are new to the civil service or new to your current role you can understand (but may not like) it if in your first year you receive a “must improve” but not if you’ve been led to believe by line managers that your performance is “acceptable”. People should not be penalised for not participating in extra activities, but by the same token those who do extra so should be rewarded for it. The 10% quota is laughable, if you turn up to work, work to the best of your ability / what is asked of you then that is an acceptable performance. Departments should not be pressurised into meeting the 10%. I bet there is no shortage of people to meet the 25% of high performers. If line managers feel you are not performing at your best it is their responsibility to help you achieve your best be it through extra training or recommending you look for another role more suited to your skills and experience and helping you to find it, even if it’s outside the civil service.

    Those of you who choose to stay at the same grade should be rewarded through annual increments, enough to maintain a reasonable standard of living. Quite often you are the people who retain the organisational memory. We’ve not had pay rises in line with inflation for many, many years as a result we (especially those living in London) find ourselves having to work more hours, pay higher commuting costs and spend longer travelling.

    I, for one would like David Cameron and his colleagues to spend a day or two as regular (not senior) civil servant and experience life on the operational delivery frontlines, including commuting to work and living on our mediocre salaries.

    Furthermore, I agree there's a degree of vehemence in many of the comments but it’s because people are expressing their frustrations of everyday civil service life! Probably in the hope that someone might read their comments and try and do something about it.

  38. Comment by Dawn posted on

    Wow soooo much negativity. Cant think why. I love that I have to have regular PMR's ( cant think of a better way to waste 2 days on each time), PDP clearly I need more development whether I like it or not, CPD Yippee the more pink and fluffy training the better...........In the outside world do you really think they would still employ us if we wasted so much time on pointless and time consuming activities. Pink and fluffy rules, forget real work. I mistakenly thought I was employed to work. Clearly that is no longer the case. And dont get me started on Building our (NON) Future.

  39. Comment by Relatively New Starter (just my opinion) posted on

    I started as an AA, worked hard, got promoted to AO. I worked even harder and got my O. I'm working even harder so I'll get promoted again. And again, and again. I'm pretty young so I didn't see what the CS was like before the PMR System came in. My view on it is, if you want to work hard, progress, learn new things and meet some awesome people along the way, it's for you. If you want to come to work, get your head down and go home, it still applies to you. Nobody is perfect and skills always need improving. You can set your own objectives, I want to achieve this by this date or I want to shadow someone to see the different kinds of work they do because I'd like to apply for a role in that area in the future, you can do it. If money is the big issue, oh I need a bigger pay packet then I'll start learning/developing, that makes absolutely no sense at all, there's people in the world who would pay endless amounts of money to go to school or begin learning something new. If money is the big thing that's getting in the way then leave and go and set up a business of your own? But, and it's a big but and I'm sure Richard Branson will second, to set up a business you'll need to be extremely hardworking, you'll need to do things that you probably don't sometimes like to do, you'll need to adopt new skills in order for your business to work and be successful. Oh and you'll definitely need to learn new things which currently you're being paid 5 whole days to do in your current role. Fair enough if you've been here 40 years, you probably do just want to come in and do your work, which after 40 years I'd hope you'd do very well, but why not as part of your PMR go and help your local school/care home? It's all part of it. So for those that are saying 'oh I got a must improve' and blame someone else, sit back and think why did I actually get a must improve? If you disagree with your result go through the very fair appeals process (which I did) and if you've got the evidence, you'll get the correct fair result.

  40. Comment by Stoner posted on

    Interesting thread here; we have comments on positive and negative behaviour and everyone seems to have a notion of what they actually mean. So please tell me what actually, fundamentally and concisely is meant by a 'positive behaviour'?

  41. Comment by Anon posted on

    Thank goodness its not just me! The new PMR actually demotivates me. I work part time, but still have to complete it in as much detail as a full timer. The monthly 1-2-1's and endless meetings leave me with less time to do my actual job and I find that I am struggling to keep up with my workload. I feel stressed as a result. I have been doing my current job for 10 years, I spent the 1st year doing exams and courses to ensure I was qualified and trained. I am still not at my maximum pay grade which I find insulting. It appears I will never get there with a 1% increase per year. Pay has been frozen, pensions have been attacked and now I believe our leave entitlement is next for the chopping board. All the 'perks' of working in the civil service are slowly disappearing and I leave myself wondering what is the point anymore. There are very few promotion opportunites for those that want them which makes the whole PMR pointless. Not everyone wants to develop/progress at anyone time for their own personal reasons, but most of us want to do our job well. I feel we are being penalised for this. Different departments in the civil service, even different managers in the same department will have their own view on the behaviours that should acheive an exceeded, met or not met, making the whole process unfair and inconsistent. Over the last few years, I have experienced more and more negativity from civil service employees, who are more demotivated than ever. This is/will adversely affect the services we provide to the public. The civil service need a rethink.

  42. Comment by Ross posted on

    I'm having a hard time balancing the fact that so many people have opened a web page with a blog post clearly entitiled "A four-step guide to planning your development" and then spend a great deal of time complaining about not wanting to develop and having heavy workloads. If you want to just get on with your day to day work, do just that. Why waste your time reading blog posts about something you deem irrelevant and then waste more of your time posting negative multi paragraph comments if you have so much work to do? I enjoyed the blog post by the way, thank you Dr Barker.

    • Replies to Ross>

      Comment by Carl posted on

      Ross. All I can say is that you are very very very fortunate to not be in this position that so many of your Civil Service colleagues are. Also, I find it's never helpful to criticize others unless one is in possession of all the facts..................

  43. Comment by Kate posted on

    We are never going to find a system that works for everyone, but respect for individuals' views is very important if we are going to work together (regardless of systems). My own view is that everyone has room for development - sometimes it's a small thing you can do differently, like trying a different way of communicating a message; sometimes it a big change like going for promotion. 'Development' is an all-encompassing word, and the most important thing is to work out what it means for you.
    Janet, I love a plan, and your 4 steps in this blog make perfect sense to me. As someone who has a tendancy to charge in, this would be a good way for me to step back, think it through and make sure my development plan (whether on paper or in my head!) is practical, achievable and works for me, rather than something I'm just doing because an intranet article tells me to.
    Plus you have given me the best line ever to use when discussing development with my team - in future I shall always ask them 'how do you eat an elephant?'! Genius...

    • Replies to Kate>

      Comment by Jamie posted on

      I agree with most of the comments I have read.I don't want to be pressurred to continually 'develop' myself, I want to be left alone to get on with the tasks of my job. I'm all for development opportunities to be made available for those who want them but I'm fed up with staff bieng,as I see it, continually pressured to 'volunteer' to do extra things for the sake of their PDR.

  44. Comment by The Laminater posted on

    Ref - Relatively new starter-
    re your comment "If you disagree with your result go through the very fair appeals process (which I did) and if you've got the evidence, you'll get the correct fair result."
    you must be joking -right.My experiance of the appeals system was the opposite of Fair.The individual who dealt with my appeal must have been from planet Mars !! The feedback made absolutey no sense at all and might as well have been written by a monkey. I too have been here for 33 years + and used to be proud to come in and do my work to the best of my ability, but apparently "your best ability " in not good enough anymore......

  45. Comment by Luke posted on

    Anyone who claims that they've been doing their job the same way for more than, say, ten years, hasn't thought it through. In that time there has been massive technological improvement and the way we do our jobs always has to change. Development and learning and promotion are not supposed to be intrinsically linked, and if you think they are, then you are the one with the problem.

    We work in a changing environment. Learning and development are at minimum about changing to keep up with it.

  46. Comment by Paul posted on

    Some very interesting comments above & I do agree with the majority. I have more than 30 years experience as a Civil Servant, so feel that I have a very realistic view of how things have changed over the years. One thing that has become very clear is that morale and staff engagement have never been so low. Speaking for myself, I have not had a monthly one-to-one with my team leader at any stage this year, despite raising this as an issue - after all, it is an integral part of the PAR. How do I know how things will progress at my mid-term review if I'm receiving absolutely no feedback as that date approaches? This is just another example of how most of our management teams are only interested in their own careers - they have no time for their staff or take any interest in progression for their staff. For someone like me, as a disabled person, I find this all very disheartening - for those who say "well, why have you stayed so long - why don't you try somethings else" - well, there's a clear answer to that - my disability. The Civil Service used to be a very good employer & it was one of the few options open to me - I wished to pursue a physical outdoor job role, with my number 1 priority as a youngster being the Armed Forces. But the sudden onset of a chronic health condition & other complications related to that meant that I had to shelve any idea of military service - as well as the police, paramedic, emergency relief rescue, etc. None of those agencies would take me. My other option of course was university & an academic career, but my ability to concentrate at a high enough level and to absorb learning became so poor that I again had to reconsider. So, for people like me - and also including all those who come to work and do a damn good job - we would like some proper recognition and reward for what we do. I was interested in what 'Relatively New Starter' said, and good luck to to you - I hope your career continues to progress, although some of what you say is quite naive (this will no doubt be clear when the Staff Survey results are released - despite any SMT tinkering). You also quote Richard Branson, who is clearly a very successful individual - but, you don't highlight that Mr Branson received a serious amount of financial backing from his parents & their associates when he started out. Even so, he is still a forward thinker & able to adapt and transform to the World marketplace - but.....this also includes the way Mr Branson treats his staff, the polar opposite of what we have in the public sector. This isn't a word-for-word quote, but Richard Branson said - "The customer does NOT come first, your STAFF come first. If you promote an atmosphere of inclusion, reward and high morale, your staff will be 'self motivated' - they will want to do their jobs well and provide a high level of service - & guess what? This leads naturally to high customer satisfaction, as the staff are happy in their roles and this clearly reflects in their motivation & work". Like I say, this isn't a direct quote, but why isn't this obvious to our senior managers and Directors? Our staff, particularly at AO & EO grade generally have none of the 'feel good factor', but we are continually asked to give more - for less 'reward' (more usually knows as pay and good working conditions). As they say, it ain't rocket science.....

  47. Comment by Paul posted on

    My last sentence, in brackets, should read 'more usually KNOWN as pay and good working conditions' .....I might add, I have also worked in the Private Sector, but moved back to the Public Sector as, in the past, I was provided with good reasonable adjustments for my disability - something the Private Sector were very dismissive about (I am referring to the 1980's here...). This issue has been raised before, but with a hidden disabilty, it is sometimes very difficult. I do not openly discuss this at work, only with my immediate LM. Most people who I work with are not even aware. What is sometimes not recognised, but has been highlighted to me by various health professionals, is that a lot of disabled people at work have 2 jobs - their paid employment and that they have to constantly manage and cope with what might be very difficult personal circumstances, and a lot of this without any support.

  48. Comment by George B posted on

    What is the point of a race to be better when there is no finish line ? - Its an endless Treadmill !

  49. Comment by a colleague posted on

    You all seem to wear your service like a stone around your neck non of you seem to show any pride in your job which is sad. Developing yourself and others is always of great importance for you you gain more confidence and feel accomplished. For the departments you work in they then have a more engaged workforce and more accepting of change and uk citizens will gain in the obvious ways a more effective civil service. For those who say there are no opportunity I disagree opportunity is there for those that strive for it , and those who just want to stay put and do a 'good' job don't you want to strive to to the very best job for your department? and take pride in your work?
    As suggested working in outside industry might be an idea for some of you and for the rest it's not national service you may leave at any time , but it is the civil service and you should consider the possibly of not just being average in your job.
    And if you don't want to serve at all then a job with service in the title my not be for you !
    The Civil service is changing and you need to get used to it.

    • Replies to a colleague>

      Comment by another colleague! posted on

      "a colleague." Thanks for your sage words of advice-forgive me if I choose to ignore them. I think if you look above Carl (21/10/15) summed it up quite nicely. We all strive for an efficient Civil Service, but when millstones like PMR and endless training are placed round your neck, and get in the way of the job we are trying to do, forums like this one are one way staff can express their views-however unpalatable you may find them.

    • Replies to a colleague>

      Comment by Michael posted on

      If CSL was working less glitchily I would feel a lot more inclined to take advantage of the resources it offers. I have this month made a query (acknowledged - resolution awaited) as to why two learning resources recommended for one of my competences by my Self Assessment cannot be found and asking if they had been withdrawn or redesignated under other titles. A previous Self Assessment recommended a resource that was entirely unsuitable (written for line managers, of which I am not one) and led me to find another one to put in my learning objectives.

  50. Comment by George B posted on

    The problem with the Civil service is that higher management is littered with personel conforming to the 'Peter Principal'

  51. Comment by Planning inspectorate colleague posted on

    For George B— 22/10/2015, If you cant beat it, join it! You could say that about life, an endless treadmill? You better make every step count or perhaps it will be pointless for you. I am making my work and life count, you get out of it what you put in.

  52. Comment by David posted on

    At risk of "appearing pink and fluffy" I think it is important for all of us to take time to reflect on how we can be a better person, colleague, manager, etc. But get that if it feels forced and patronising can be a wind up.

  53. Comment by CJF posted on

    I understand that some people just want a job, do there 9 to 5, and go home. But they are very lucky to be in the CS in the first place. It took me a long time to get in, and I'm very thankful for all the learning and development that is offered to me, something you don't get in the private sector. I know of many people who would love to get in the CS, so if your not happy, give up your job for the people that are willing to do what's asked of them. I know most people will disagree with me, but just feel lucky to have a job and to be in the CS in the first place.

  54. Comment by Jeff posted on

    I just did the Learning Preference thing: came out as 6-7-7-7, so I'm a reflective theoretical pragmatist with strong active tendencies.
    That's clarified things for me.
    The problem with these HR and training bods is that they think we don't actually do a day job or have endless free personal time. What we need is structured training to enable us to do our jobs, not ad-hoc personal development journeys.

  55. Comment by Bipin posted on

    To be honest , my brain is now burgeoning will knowledge ,possible cause of baldness.
    Anyway to be serious , I love to gain knowledge and skills where and when appropriate.
    To be honest I am not sure what the defination of a skill would be for us , but it is more appropriate to a plumber , carpenter or where a new skill would actually make a technical difference.
    I would also say learning should (to re-iterate "must") be aligned to a next promised job , only then learn new skill if there is a new job waiting for you.

  56. Comment by Lyn, MOD posted on

    If being a Civil Servant is so bad why are so many of us still here after 10, 20, 30 years - or more in some cases above? If we are so poorly paid (see Jnr Drs at this point in time) why have we not sought employment elsewhere? We're not so badly off in the scheme of things.