7 examples for setting professional development goals at work

We shared with you why goals are important to keep productivity levels up at work. But setting goals shouldn’t stop at things to accomplish on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.

You should be setting goals that revolve around your development in the workplace, allowing you to progress professionally – and if you're a manager – supporting the development of your team.

Great goal setting means you can take steps towards improving any aspect of work that’s relevant and specific to you, building on professional knowledge, skills and effective working practices. Goal setting may be supported at the company level, depending on the current priorities and your HR maturity level, but is also something you can take control of yourself.

Whilst your goals should be tailored to your personal aims and needs, we’ve put together 7 examples to give you an idea of some great, SMART development goals which will help push you towards success and the professional accomplishments you’re striving for.

1. Complete leadership training course before the end of the quarter

Part of professional development is continuing to learn new skills and practices, at any stage in your career. Sometimes enrolling in courses or training plans is an invaluable way to gain the skills or knowledge you need to develop in your role and improve in specific practices.

Learning new things doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal process though. Development goals can be as easy as gaining more knowledge about something. For example...

2. Learn more about the new office communication tool before implementing it next quarter

Familiarising yourself with new technology before introducing it in the workplace means you’ll not only be confident using it, team members will also be more likely to engage with it if they see you’ve taken the time to do the same. You will then know the tool inside out, plus you'll be known as the guru!

3. Gain upward feedback before the end of the quarter to establish what can be improved

Receiving honest, constructive feedback shouldn’t just be a top-down process, especially with such tools available to facilitate this these days. Gathering your team's perspective is a great way to see how your behaviours and practices impact those around you, and can provide great insight when it comes to what works and what doesn’t. When things get busy, it’s easy to forget to check in with your team and get feedback on how you're doing. Having a goal in place means things won’t get overlooked in favour of other tasks or projects.

4. Improve presentation skills by enlisting help, in order to make things more engaging for the team

Improving presentation skills is always valuable. It can have an impact on so many aspects of work: from presenting better in weekly meetings to improving skills for large company-wide or public presentations. Great presentation skills allow you to engage and communicate with, motivate, and inspire your team.

5. Gain a more in-depth perspective of how departments within the company are run

By taking a couple of days to work with or shadow each department over the next two quarters, you can build a wider understanding of what goes into each department's daily practices. This means you can better understand the challenges and obstacles other team members experience on a daily basis, making you a more effective manager.

6. Improve ability to manage the team remotely, by establishing set communication guidelines

It’s good to have guidelines in place to ensure that when working remotely, everything is still running efficiently and team members have support available when they need it. Having clear channels for communication and building a team culture of open feedback plays a large part in success here. More tips on communication in remote teams you can find in this article.

7. Attend training session on how to give and receive effective feedback to team members

Part of successfully managing a team is providing useful insight into each members’ performance. This not only helps people to improve, but will also improve your standing as a manager because people respect someone who provides honest and actionable feedback. This can be as a regular part of the way you work, part of a more structured performance review, but preferably both.

Next steps

Now it's time to decide on your goals, so you can get out there and begin developing both personally and professionally. Make sure you write your goals down (so you can hold yourself accountable), and even make them visible in some way. It might be scary, but it can help increase chances of success.

Are you a manager? Using a goal setting tool with your team members can help establish focus and even drive engagement, as you work on reaching these together. Selecting a tool that is designed to help you integrate these into your day-to-day interactions such as 1:1s, can help make these even more effective at driving performance and engagement.

No matter your goals, feedback is the key to improving further over time – especially when you create a culture where feedback is regularly shared amongst team members. Learn how to support this across your team with a free copy of The Manager's Guide to Using Feedback to Motivate, Engage and Develop Your Team.

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