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Identify your development needs

Identifying your development needs can be challenging. Often, we find ourselves looking at what training courses are available and deciding which of those would be most helpful. In fact, it is better to try and identify what the development need is and then to work out ways of meeting that need, which may or may not be a training course.

Development and Performance Review (DPR) is a great opportunity to discuss your development needs with your line manager. You may be able to discuss the changing requirements of your role, as well as your personal development aspirations (for example, career development). It is important that you have considered your development needs before your Development and Performance Review (DPR) meeting as this will enable you to make the most of your discussion. The 'Identifying Your Development Needs' form, combined with the steps below, can be a useful tool in this process.

There are 3 stages to identifying your needs.

  1. Identify what skills, knowledge and behaviours are ‘required’ for you to do your job well
  2. Look at the skills, knowledge and behaviours you actually have now
  3. Compare ‘actual’ with ‘required’ to identify the gaps. These are your development needs

1. Identify what skills, knowledge and behaviours are ‘required’ for you to do your job well.

Every role in the University has a job description and a person specification. Your job description will list the things that you are expected to do, and the person specification will identify the skills, experience, knowledge and behaviours that you need to do that job well.

You may find it helpful to talk to your line manager or Head of Department if you feel you want to clarify any of the requirements set out in the person specification. Your Development and Performance Review (DPR) meeting will be one place to have this discussion, but you can raise the issue of development at any meeting with your manager or HOD during the year.

At this stage, it’s also worth thinking about the skills, knowledge and behaviours that you may need to develop in the future in your current job. You may know, for example, that your role will be changing or that you will be working on different projects or that you are interested in a career change. What new or different skills, knowledge and behaviours will you need?

Make a list of current and future skills, knowledge and behaviours that you need

2. Look at the skills, knowledge and behaviours you actually have now.

Look at the list you have produced. Now ask yourself how effectively you match against each one. You could consider talking this through with a friend or colleague, or with your manager or HOD.

It’s important to ask yourself some rigorous questions at this stage and answer honestly! Are there areas of your work, for example, where developing more confidence would make a real difference to your success in your job? Are there knowledge, skills and behaviours that you only need on occasion that would benefit from some development? Can you identify areas where you feel confident and believe you perform well that could be an even greater strength for you with some development?.  

3. Compare ‘actual’ with ‘required’ to identify the gaps. These are your development needs.

Try and be as specific as possible about what you need to do differently. This will really help you when you are deciding how to best address your development needs. It will also help you review and measure your success.

For example, “I need to learn how to use Outlook to sort, prioritise and store my emails,” will be much more helpful than “I need to be more organised,” when it comes to deciding what development you need. It will also help you check how the Outlook training you undertook actually made a difference in your ability to be organised.

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