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Self-Directed Careers by Richard Nelson

February 3, 2010 - In Articles, Talent Management and Personal Development articles - No comments yet


Given the continuing pace of change, coupled with the changes in time-honoured loyalties and the security of employment, how can business leaders now enable key people to develop themselves to build dynamic organisational capability?

Currently, traditional management development processes struggle to keep up with accelerating change. The need for talent is not being realised and individuals often find they are not progressing satisfactorily.

To address these issues, Nelson Consulting has developed an approach founded upon senior executive’s providing opportunity and leadership, with managers and professionals reciprocating by taking ownership of their own development.  This approach addresses both the need to develop organisational capability, and individuals who want to take responsibility for their own development.


For businesses, this approach, delivered as a Personal Development Programme, develops individuals’  capability in relation to required skills, knowledge and attitudes. For participants, it develops the potential to contribute more effectively to business capability.

How it works

To design a programme that will deliver the desired impact, the business context is defined.  This involves identifying the development requirements implied by the business’s long term purpose and strategies.  Key        elements of the Programme are then shaped to support development that will improve the capability to perform.

The Personal Development Programme is undertaken in two phases: (1) Diagnosis and Planning and (2) Coaching/Personal Development Actions.


Diagnosis and Planning comprises the following stages:

Stage 1 – Career Development Workshops
Stage 2 – Data Analysis, Data Integration and Reporting
Stage 3 – Feedback
Stage 4 – Development Planning 

The Career Development Workshop embraces some or all of the following:

A Personal Development Briefing: to communicate the aims and style of the programme

Structured Interviews: to examine personal history, ambitions, development aims, sector management  competencies and those in relation to company core values

Psychometric inventories: these are selected appropriately to gain objective insights into participants’ development opportunities

360º  Review:  to obtain information about an individual’s impact on others

Peer Review: this can be added to determine team development opportunities.

Two important options can also be included:

Personal Vision and Values: to provide focus for leadership development and conviction.

Life-Work Balance Analysis: to evaluate life-work balance in the context of overall quality of life.

Data Analysis, Data Integration and Reporting.  All data is analysed and structured into a confidential report. This provides the basis of a personal Feedback meeting and the subsequent Development Planning meeting.

Feedback.  This confidential meeting is facilitated by a highly qualified development consultant.  It enables individuals to explore their career and life issues and consider the implications of the report’s findings for their current roles and future career direction.

Development Planning.  This summarises the main development areas and identifies development objectives as well as the learning necessary to achieve them.  A variety of activities can be undertaken to meet an individual’s needs and the organisation’s business circumstances.


Individuals achieve their development objectives more fully and quickly when they are supported by an            experienced management coach.

Our approach to coaching is holistic and embraces an individual’s aspirations, ambitions and plans for the future, whether or not they are strictly related to the current role.  Coaching gives guidance through questioning and recommending options.

Typically, an initial coaching programme entails one half-day per month over six months, providing each participant with support and advice with respect to personal development and implementing change.  At the end of the six months, a 360º  review can be undertaken to obtain feedback on the impact of the changes each individual will have implemented.

Coaching and mentoring will:

·  maintain the self-motivation for development and learning
·  ensure ownership of learning
·  find relevant solutions
·  promote realistic action plans
·  build commitment to implement action plans
·  apply and refine further what has been learned.

In conclusion, the self-directed approach enables individuals to take responsibility for their own development, both to gain rewards for themselves and to deliver benefit to their organisations.

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