Jeff Pries

Business Intelligence, SQL Server, and other assorted IT miscellany

Category: PDP

Career Goal Planning

Professional-Development-Picture-341x348A big topic that’s been making the rounds lately personally, around the office, and on the Internet is career planning and career path planning.  Do you do it?  Do you wish you did it?  How do you do it?  Do you use any tools or methodologies to do it?  You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that says that setting goals is a bad thing.  Even harder would be to find someone that says tracking progress toward those goals is a bad thing.

One of the common ways to document these goals and track progress toward meeting them in the SQL Server world is with a tool called a Professional Development Plan.  If you mention a Professional Development Plan in the SQL Server work, that brings up one name:  Andy Warren.  Andy has done numerous talks and presentations over the years to spread the word of the Professional Development Plan to the masses and I’ve become a big believer in the system.  But are there any other systems out there?

In talking with a coworker outside of the SQL Server world not long ago, he mentioned something similar — a Personal Development Plan outlined in a PDF from a company named MindTools.  After speaking with him about it, I thought to myself “this sure does sound familiar” so I went to the website and subscribed to their newsletter in order to download the free PDF outlining what a Personal Development Plan is and the various worksheets to create one.  While the process was a little bit too structured for me, there were some elements of it which I really liked, such as the Skills Audit, which I plan to incorporate into my personal Professional Development Plan template at some point (and will be linked to a future post).  As their plan is free for the price of providing them an email address, I highly recommend downloading it and checking it out for ideas.

In reading an unrelated blog post the other day, I saw mention of an “Epic Life Quest.”  Epic Life Quest?  What is that?   As it turns out, an Epic Life Quest is just another way of documenting achievements.  While most of the examples I saw seemed to be a mix of career and personal achievements, I suppose you could easily choose to do one or the other rather than a mix (though a mix does make sense as personal life heavily influences career and vice versa.)  The idea is pretty simple — you document your achievements, but in a way that you make a little game out of it.  In the examples of others trying this, they commonly use 5 as the magic number.  For each 5 achievements, you go up a level.  Pretty simple stuff.  Here are a couple of good examples I saw of these Life Quests.  [The original], [Brent Ozar], [Derik Hammer], [George Stocker], [Andrew Notarian].

Learning about Epic Life Quests (of Awesome) got me to thinking.  Peanut butter is good.  Chocolate is good.  But, if you combine them, you get a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup — which is great!  What would happen if you combined some of the ideas of a Professional Development Plan with some of the ideas of an Epic Life Quest?  A Professional Development Plan brings goal setting to the table.  Both the PDP and the Life Quest bring goal tracking (achievements) to the table.  The Life Quest brings the game aspect or “leveling up” aspect.  They seem to be pretty compatible ideas.

reeses

So, how to combine them?  Well, that’s a good question.  For now, I’m going to eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup and I’ll leave the answer to a future post as I go to figure out that very thing.  Stay tuned!

Happy New Year 2014! Start Your PDP Today!

Happy New Year 2014!  Start Your PDP Today!

Happy New Year everyone!  With 2013 behind us and today the first day of 2014, it’s time to review how last year went and make some plans for the new year.  And what better way to make some plans and set some goals than to start creating your Professional Development Plan for 2014 today!

A Professional Development Plan is a great way to set a series of professional goals for yourself (such as attaining new skills and certifications) as well as tracking your progress over the year (such as attending user group meetings and training events).  Without tracking as you go, it’s pretty easy to forget what progress you’ve made, lose focus, or just let things slide in general.  So, get started today!

2013 was a great year — I attended a ton of user group meetings, SQL Saturdays, and other training events.  I attended my first PASS Summit and attained my first Microsoft SQL Server certification.  Not to mention, I learned a ton of new tips and tricks and developed some great reports and dashboards along the way.  Here’s to hoping 2014 is an even better and more productive year!

Professional Development Tips – Start a Professional Development Plan

Starting a Professional Development Plan:  

Having attended a number of SQL Saturday events, one of their great strengths is that they contain a healthy mix of both technical and non-technical content.  Every event that I’ve attended thus far has had at least a handful of professional development sessions on various topics generally geared toward managing your professional career on a non-technical level.

While I love the technical content — often choosing sessions based on new features or topics that are somewhat new to me, some of the most energizing and motivating sessions I’ve attended have been the professional development sessions.

Of the great Professional Development sessions I’ve attended, one stands out in particular:  Andy Warren’s (B | T) “Building Your Professional Development Plan.”

In his session, Andy gives an overview of what exactly a professional development plan is all about as well as why you’d want one in the first place.  A professional development plan, or PDP, is a document in which you can record short and mid range career goals and then track activities and progress toward accomplishing those goals within a set time frame.  The goals outlined in a professional development plan should be specific to your career goals, both at your current job as well as taking into account desired future jobs along your chosen career path.  A good professional development plan will incorporate both technical goals (such as learning new skills and techniques) as well as non-technical goals (such as networking or communication skills).

Following Andy’s session, I decided to take Andy’s challenge of creating a plan and trying it for a year.  I started by brainstorming various goals which I wanted to achieve over the next year and then began documenting them.  I next looked at my collection of goals and assigned realistic time and money budgets as well as goal dates and I was on my way.  As time has progressed and I’ve participated in activities which further my goals, I recorded them on my professional development plan.

I began by using Andy’s professional development plan template, found on his blog here.

I’ve since created my own professional development plan template based on Andy’s ideas which you’re welcome to borrow or use for ideas, found here.  (It may attempt to open in Google Docs, but paginates much better in true Excel).

At this point, I’m 8 months into Andy’s year long professional development plan challenge and I can already see this is a habit I plan to maintain throughout my career.  It really is motivating looking back at the training and development tasks you’ve performed over the course of the year.

I’ve only glossed the surface on what a professional development plan is all about.  For more information, I highly recommend you seek out Andy’s presentation on Building Your Professional Development plan which he frequently presents at SQL Saturdays in the central Florida area.  Andy is a great speaker and a I guarantee you’ll leave motivated!

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