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Meeting Guide and Conversation Prep Tool for Employees

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Step-by-step Guide to Complete your PDSP 

Step 1: Capture your thoughts about your development

Reflect and capture your professional growth opportunities in your Self Reflection and Professional Development Success Plan. As you complete this step, consider the questions below to get started. The list of questions below serves as a  starting point to think about your overall professional development goals and how they tie to your current role, strengths, developmental opportunities, passion and/or organizational alignment. 

Professional Goals and Aspirations

Professional goals are anything you hope to achieve during your career. These can include things like skill development, achievement of various milestones and career aspirations. They also can be goals you wish to accomplish personally as long as they align with the departmental/organizational objectives. 

Questions to consider to get you started: 
  • What motivates and gives you the most energy in your work?
  • What kinds of opportunities do you look forward to in the future? 
  • What opportunities are available in your current role that will help your professional development and growth? 

Strengths and Development Opportunities 

A strength is a skill you do well and consistently perform at a high level. A development opportunity is honing in on a particular skill by investing time, practice, and increasing your knowledge of that skill area, to eventually become one of your strengths. When considering development opportunities, you want to think about what skills you have already mastered, as well as which skills you would like to improve. 

Questions to consider to get you started: 
  • What are your talents/strengths?
  • What can you identify as areas of opportunity and improvement?
Additional questions to get you started: 

Being passionate in the workplace is important because it can elevate your energy and enthusiasm to keep yourself committed to achieving your own goals while motivating and inspiring others. Passion can foster a positive attitude and it can help you gain more from your current role and encourage you to stay focused and productive. It is important to connect your passion to your career goals, as it is an automatic motivator. Tying your passion to your career goals will enable you to accomplish them and reach your fullest potential. 

Questions to consider to get you started: 
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What activities of your job do you like most? 

What projects/responsibilities do you want to be part of and why

Organizational Goal Alignment 

It is important to consider how your professional development goals are  related to your current role and  how they contribute to your department and organization. Considering the direction the organization is moving will allow you to gain visibility into areas you can grow along with the organization.

  • What do you like about working at Stanford?
  • How does your job help achieve department/organizational goals?
  • What strengths do you use to achieve your performance goals?
  • What opportunities are available at Stanford to prepare you for the next role?

Make your Plan Actionable

After identifying aspirations, strengths and passions, it is important to create actionable steps in your Professional Development Success Plan to move towards your career goals and aspirations. 

Questions to consider to get you started: 
  • Considering your current role and future career aspirations, what areas of development should be prioritized? 
  • What will your objectives be for this PDSP?
  • Will your PDSP include developing new skills and capabilities, preparing for new opportunities, or both?
  • Which strengths/talents will you use more often, or expand?
  • What development opportunities can you focus on? 

Additional Considerations 


Competencies are observable behaviors that are a combination of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to attain performance  goals.

In the process of creating a professional development plan, select competencies that are needed to excel in the current job and have been agreed upon between you and your manager to achieve performance goals. The competencies can also be used to build specific skills to prepare for the future role. For a list of competencies, refer to the descriptions on the Cardinal at Work website

Additional Resources 

For additional information on career guidance, please visit the Cardinal Work website.

Step 2: Plan

The next step in the Professional Development Success Plan (PDSP) process is for you to meet with your manager and discuss the PDSP and outline the next steps to implement the plan. This enables a more collaborative process as well as provides you the support needed to achieve your career aspirations. Your role is to lead the process and PDSP discussion. The role of your manager is to listen, guide, coach and support you with resources and/or opportunities that will help you reach the professional goals you have identified in your plan. The outcome of this step is a completed PDSP and clear next steps on how the plan will be implemented. 

The following resources can be used in preparation for and during the PDSP conversation between you and your manager. 

  • Document the goal in your performance plan

  • Schedule regular check-ins to track progress on your goals

Before the meeting with your manager

  1. Complete the Self-reflection and Professional Development Success Plan (PDSP) Template to capture your initial thoughts on career aspirations

  2. Complete the Conversational tool as an outline for the conversation 

  3. Ask your manager for a meeting and describe your objectives of the discussion. If possible, send your PDSP form in advance so they can come prepared for the conversation.

During the meeting

Meeting Agenda: 
  1. Open the conversation with, “I would like to share my professional goals and how I see myself growing in this role. I’d like your feedback and for us to agree on the next steps.” 

  2. Provide an overview of the plan using the conversation tool 

  3. Listen for feedback and ideas to incorporate into the PDSP 

  4. Mutually agree upon next steps and thank the manager for their support

After the meeting

  1. Share a copy of the PDSP with your manager and/or upload it to your GPS goal plan (if your school/business unit uses the Grow and Perform system) 

  2. Add a developmental goal to your performance plan 

  3. Implement the plan and accomplish the goals you set for the year 

  4. Commit to the scheduled check-ins with your manager to keep track of your progress

Step 3: Act

The final step in this process is to act upon the development goals identified in the PDSP. You are encouraged to schedule regular check-ins with your manager to maintain accountability to the PDSP. Below are additional action steps to consider. 

Example Action Steps 

  • Revisit the PDSP form to refine and adjust as necessary. Add the action identified in your PDSP into your calendar. 
  • Schedule quarterly follow-up meetings to check on your progress. 

Act on the plan and assume ownership.