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4. What role should an employee’s line manager play in the PDP process?

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4. What role should an employee’s line manager play in the PDP process?


Performance Development


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Personal Development Planning

In this week’s lecture we have been exploring the role of employee development in the performance management process.  In the 2005 Performance Management Survey from the CIPD, 62% of organisations reported that they were using personal development plans (PDP’s) as a feature in their performance management system.  More importantly, 81% of those organisations said they believed this approach was effective making it the 3rd most effective performance management tool just behind individual appraisal reviews (83%) and objective setting reviews (82%).  In fact, research suggests that the impact of appraisal on performance may be enhanced where appraisals are used with a developmental focus.

A PDP is an action plan which sets out how people propose to learn and develop themselves.  The important characteristic is that the individual takes primary responsibility for the plan NOT the organisation therefore ownership of development is handed over to the individual. 

“The development plan records the actions agreed to improve performance and to develop knowledge, skills and competencies.  It is likely to focus on development in the current job – to improve the ability to perform it well and also, importantly, to enable individuals to take on wider responsibilities, extending their capacity to undertake a broader role” (Armstron and Baron p25).


Personal Development Plans


Personal development plans specify courses of action to be taken to improve performance.  Achieving the goals stated in the development plan allows employees to keep abreast of changes in their field or profession.  Such plans highlight an employee’s strengths and the areas in need of development, and they provide an action plan to improve in areas of weaknesses and further develop areas of strength.  In a nutshell, personal development plans allow employees to answer the following questions:

  • How can I continually learn and grow in the next year?
  • How can I do better in the future?
  • How can I avoid performance problems faced in the past


Developmental Plan Objectives

The overall objective of a development plan is to encourage continuous learning, performance improvement, and personal growth.  In addition, developmental plans have other more specific objectives:

  • Improve performance in current job.  A good development plan helps employees meet performance standards.  Thus, a developmental plan includes suggested courses of action to address each of the performance dimensions that are deficient.
  • Sustain performance in current job.  A good developmental plan provides tools so that employees can continue to meet and exceed expectations regarding the current job.  Thus, the plan includes suggestions about how to continue to meet and exceed expectations for each of the performance dimensions included in the appraisal form.
  • Prepare employees for advancement.  A good developmental plan includes advice and courses of action that should be taken so that employees will be able to take advantage of future opportunities and career advancement.  Specifically, a good plan indicates which new competencies and behaviours should be learned to help with a career advancement.
  • Enrich the employee’s work experience.  Even if career opportunities within the organization are not readily available , a good plan provides employees with growth opportunities and opportunities to learn new skills.  These opportunities provide employees with intrinsic rewards and a more challenging work experience, even if the new skills learned are not a formal part of their jobs.  Such opportunities can make jobs more attractive and serve as a powerful employee retention tool.  In addition, the news skills can be useful in case of lateral transfers within the organization.


Content of Developmental plan

What does a developmental plan look like?  Plans should include a description of specific steps to be taken and specific objectives to reach.  In other words, what is the new skill or knowledge that will be acquired and how will this occur?  This includes information on the resources and strategies that will be used to achieve the objectives.  For example, will the employee learn the skills form a co-worker through on-the-job training?  Will the company reimburse the employee for expenses associated with taking an on-line course?


The plan’s objectives should include not only the end product, such as the new skill to be learned, but also the completion date and how the supervisor will know whether the new skill has indeed been acquired.  For example, in the case of the on-line course, the objective could state that the course will be completed by July 23, 2007, and the employee is expected to receive a grade B+ or better.  Overall, objectives included in the developmental plans should be practical, specific, time oriented, linked to a standard, and developed jointly by the supervisor and the employee.


An additional important feature of developmental plans is that they should keep the needs of both the organization and the employee in mind.  The choice of what specific skills or performance areas will be improved is dictated by the needs of the organization, especially when the organization is investing in the plan.  In addition, the plan created is dictated by the needs of the individual.  The supervisor and the employee need to agree on what development or new skills will help enrich the employees’ work experience , as well as help accomplish organizational goals now or in the near future.


Source:  Aguinis H (2009) Performance Management, 2nd Ed, New Jersey, Pearson Prentica Hall pp180-183



Watch the you tube video 70/20/10 Development Plans and make notes on the following questions:

  1. What are the two forms of development needs discussed in the video?
  2. How do people get good at things?
  3. What on the job development ideas does the video suggest?
  4. What role should an employee’s line manager play in the PDP process?

Task 1:  Development Objectives

Working in small groups and drawing on your appraisal interviews agree four learning objectives for The Young Manager at the Cavendish Hall Hotel.  Two objectives must relate to what the manager must do to improve his performance today and two should relate to how he can develop his performance for the future.

“A good learning objective needs to be behavioural in approach.  That is to say, because we are focusing on performance improvement, the statement of an objective must have at its core a verb.  It is something that the worker will do as a result of the learning and training; better still it is something that they can demonstrate, and which can be observed and measured.  In addition there will be two qualifications – firstly, the conditions under which that performance is accomplished, and secondly, the standard that is expected.” (Simmonds 2003 p85)


Example Action Verbs:

  • adjust, alter, analyse, amend, answer, approve, assemble, assess, audit, build,
  • calculate, call, carry out, categorise, check, climb, close, complete, decide, describe,
  • develop, diagnose, divide, draft, draw, eliminate, explain, estimate, extract, file,
  • find, fit, generate, hire, hold, identify, implement, inform, interview, justify, label,
  • lift, list, locate, lower, make, mark, map, monitor, name, negotiate, obtain, operate,
  • perform, prepare, place, plan, prove, question, read, recommend, remove, report,
  • research, review, schedule, select, sell, solve, spend, state, supervise, spell, test, train,
  • translate, turn, update, use, verify, weigh, write


Forrest (2003)




Task 2:  Development solutions

Using the 70/20/10 framework identify a range of development solutions the Young Manager could use to address each of the objectives. 

  • Job related practice (70%):  What job related experiences might help.  Remember to consider how the young manager can build feedback and reflection into the experience to assist their learning.
  • Coaching and Mentoring (20%):  Who can help the Young Manager to learn and how?
  • Training (10%):  What formal training  e.g. course, book, webinar might help?

Make sure you have at least one of each type of development for each objective.

Draw on the application posters produced in the class and the suggestions made in the video to help you.


Task 3:  PDP

Pull your work together into a personal development plan in the table provided below.

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  • Title: 4. What role should an employee’s line manager play in the PDP process?
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