What Is a Professional Growth Plan?

A professional growth plan is a comprehensive plan that charts and projects a worker’s career, with the aim of improving and furthering their professional capabilities. It is also sometimes referred to as a professional development plan. A professional growth plan is typically used for educators or teachers. But it can apply to other professions and occupations as well.

According to an article by Growth Companion, around 76% of employees desire more opportunities for career growth. Meanwhile, a majority or 87% of millennials deem professional development and growth opportunities to be very important.      

What Does It Mean to Grow Professionally?

Professional growth can mean many things to different people. There is no one path to professional success. One person’s idea of success may be vastly different from another. However, there are major factors and general characteristics that suggest that one is developing professionally in the right direction. The following examples describe some of these general factors.  

Skills. One obvious way of telling that a teacher or employee is growing professionally is when it is manifested in their external skills and abilities. This does not only refer to technical skills but also knowledge or even work ethic as well. And how does one develop and grow skills wise? It is through effective and regular training. Training and development is a key area in human resources. Without appropriate training, employees can end up stagnant and unmotivated due to the lack of growth and change. Engaged and fulfilled workers are able to learn new skills or upgrade old ones. Thus, it is the responsibility of the employer and human resources to initiate the proper trainings for staff to undergo. Whether it is necessary to their line of work or supplemental knowledge, training is the most basic and straightforward way to grow professionally. Network. Sometimes, people don’t realize it but they are able to grow in ways that aren’t so apparent or obvious as skills training. Building one’s professional network can be a great way to grow professionally as well. Your workplace interactions can hold a lot of potential for career development and breakthroughs. Who you meet, work and collaborate with can be potential doors and opportunities that will eventually lead you to greater professional heights. Note that it is not merely about expanding your professional network or collecting business cards, you can also learn a great deal from your various interactions with people. The quality of your relationship and interaction with colleagues or co-workers matters much more than the quantity of your connections. In addition, interactive development programs such as mentorships, apprenticeships, or internships are excellent ways to grow professionally as well. It is like hitting two birds with one stone. By having a direct supervisor help and guide you, you are forming a professional connection while also receiving training from your mentor. Emotional Maturity. Work is not just all about meeting deadlines and accomplishing tasks. An important aspect that is fundamental to professional development is maturity. And this does not only pertain to intellectual and mental maturity, but most especially emotional maturity. For millions of people, the workplace can be a high-stress and high-pressure environment. In order to deal with this, you need a certain degree of maturity. Another way to put it is if intellectual quotient or IQ is deemed important, the emotional quotient or EQ should be equally important too. If an employee is able to cope or even thrive despite work demands or pressure of the job, it could be that they have been able to mature professionally and adapt over the years. Lastly, note that interpersonal skills are also a crucial measure of emotional maturity. Fulfillment. When you feel that your job gives you fulfillment or purpose, it is usually a tell-tale sign that you are growing professionally. Personal fulfillment is key not just in one’s career, but in their overall well-being as well. Growth and development often go together with fulfillment. Engaged and motivated employees are usually those that feel that they are constantly growing and learning in the workplace. They have a sense of purpose and fulfillment in what they do. Because of this sense of fulfillment, they tend to become more productive and collaborative employees. In other words, there is a profound sense of growth when an individual is able to unlock his or her potential and attain self-actualization.

Sample Professional Growth Indicators

There can be several indicators of growth and development over the course of an individual’s career. Some of these may not be as evident or obvious as others. Some may be subtle and may not be noticeable right away. The following are just some major and common examples of these professional growth indicators. 

Quality of Work or Output. If there is a clear improvement in work output or in the quality of work of the employee, that is usually a sign of professional growth. Especially if work performance was noticeably poor or lacking in the beginning, improvement in output is a clear and excellent measure of growth. Output should not merely be measured in quantity, but a higher premium should be placed on the quality of work. It is a much better measure for learning and sustainable professional development. Focusing too much on quantity can be pretty short-sighted and superficial. But real and long-term growth is focused on quality and standard. For example, a teacher whose lesson plan is improved in terms of content and standard is a much better indicator than multiple but unsubstantial lesson plans. Technical Ability. Another important professional growth indicator is technical ability. If the employee or worker exhibits greater knowledge and technical capabilities in his job, then that is usually indicative of development. As mentioned in previous sections, training is key when it comes to professional improvement and development. One does not become an expert overnight. It can take months and years of learning and unlearning to become good at your job. By undergoing the necessary training, you are actively taking part in your professional growth and development. You cannot simply remain at the sidelines, being idle and expect your career to take flight. There must be an active effort on your part to really invest in your own growth and development as a professional. High Engagement. Another indicator of professional growth is how engaged or invested an employee is at their job. This is one of the less obvious indicators and cannot be detected outright. Engagement can also manifest itself in different ways, so it is not always clear-cut. As stated in the previous sections, engagement is an effect of a deep sense of fulfillment and purpose in one’s job. If you enjoy your work and have a deep affinity and sense of duty to it, it is likely that you are engaged in it and are able to find purpose in what you are doing. Although, it is important to note that it is also possible to appreciate and be engaged in your work yet not feel like you are maximizing your potential. There are many cases where employees have to leave jobs they love and enjoy doing because there is simply no growth or direction anymore.

How to Create a Professional Growth Plan

To create a professional growth plan, you need to have a vision of what you want in a career or at least some idea of what you want to accomplish. And if you are looking for greater ease and convenience, using a sample template will save you a ton of time and effort. Simply browse the collection of templates above and follow the steps below.  

Step 1: Set the Objectives 

The first step in crafting a personal growth plan is to set your objectives or career goals. As stated in earlier sections, professional growth can look different for a lot of people. There is no one picture of success. Thus, it is important to state your objectives that reflect your own personal vision and individual goals. Without setting clear objectives right from the beginning, it can be easy to veer off track or lose sight of what’s really important. Having career goals can help you stay focused and motivated. As much as possible, try to keep your objectives and goals brief but specific. You also want to state feasible and realistic goals as well. It is good to aim high and dream big; but at the same time, you must also ground your goals in reality.  

Step 2: Establish Growth Indicators

Once you have established your professional growth goals, the next step is to create appropriate growth indicator mechanisms. As discussed above, there can be all sorts of indicators that can measure professional growth and development. Since it is your own professional growth that you are concerned about, you ought to be able to know when you have achieved or attained such growth. Having that awareness is key when implementing and applying your professional growth plan. Similar to key performance indicators or KPIs, having growth indicators will enable you to assess your strengths as well as identify areas that need improvement.  

Step 3: Identify the Resources

The next step is identifying the resources or tools needed to execute your professional growth plan. This step is crucial because you cannot implement a professional development plan by yourself. There are certain processes and protocols you are subject to; and you also need your team’s support and collaboration. In other words, you need external help and support in order for your professional growth to take root. These may be resources that you already have access to or it may be tools you still have to acquire for you to execute your plan.   

Step 4: Establish a Clear Timeline 

Once you have identified your growth indicators and resources, the last step is to establish a timeline for your professional growth plan. To ensure that you implement your plan accordingly, a clear timeline must be included to set your plans in motion. Depending on the format and structure of your plan, you can incorporate your timeline as you see fit. Whether you are using a Gantt chart or a simple roadmap, it’s important to have an element of time. This way, you can track and monitor your progress and professional development. You will be able to see if you are on track towards accomplishing your career goals. If you need help crafting a timeline, you can easily refer to the dozens of editable timelines for help and ideas.     


What should a professional growth plan look like?

A professional growth plan should be curated and personalized to fit an employee’s individual needs. Since every individual is unique and possesses their own capabilities and aspirations, a ‘one size fits all’ approach would not apply to professional growth and development.

What is a professional growth plan in education?

An education professional growth plan is a comprehensive plan that is intended to further the learning goals and objectives of students and faculty alike.

How do you write a professional growth goal?

To write a professional growth goal, you need to take the time to reflect and really envision yourself and your career. It helps to be specific and descriptive in crafting your goals. Likewise, it is also important to write down realistic and attainable professional growth goals.

A professional growth plan can be a helpful tool for those seeking to take the next step in their careers. Browse the wide selection of sample templates above and start customizing your own professional growth plan now!