Defining Development Objectives


Martyn Sloman of the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) recently wrote: "We've witnessed a shift in emphasis from training (an instructor led intervention) to learning (a process that lies in the domain of the learner)."

If we wish to support this trend, rather than rush into training, we need to take time to define the development need before choosing development activity (see Meeting Development Needs). The note below is intended to promote ideas and to be helpful. If it is common sense to you, it will reinforce your view. If some of the ideas challenge what you do, it is because they are meant to! In either case, it would be a pleasure to hear from you if you wish to focus on a practical example and turn a real development need into improved performance.

Development needs can be defined at three levels:-

1. What do you want to change about the company? (eg constructive feedback will be encouraged)

2. What do you want to change about your team(s)? (eg we want improved communication between sales and production)

3. How do you want individuals to develop? (eg change their attitude; acquire a skill . See * below)
All too often, in my experience, we address things at one of the above levels when we should be tackling it at another. For instance, in some situations it may be easier to address behaviour through the team rather than through the individual. It is important to focus on the target level before deciding on the type of training and development activity, because different levels may need different activities.

*If we break down '3' above into Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge, we will further increase our chances of securing value for money. We could write development objectives relating to leadership, for example, in different ways:-


• for Knowledge .... (Delegates can define and understand what leadership is)
• for Skill .... (Delegates demonstrate leadership skills)
• for Attitude/Behaviour .... (Delegates display a desire to lead)

The bottom line is that to change attitude, improve skills, and increase knowledge at company, team or individual level, requires very different development activities. So, I would suggest that writing objectives bearing in mind the above will increase your chances of getting the results that you want.

Meeting Development Needs

We can only choose the right vehicle for meeting someone’s development needs if we understand whether performance can be improved through increased knowledge, developing skill, or addressing attitudes/behaviour. The chosen activity is at the core of any Personal Development Plan and the subsequent improvement in performance. Some options are listed below.

Attachments (shadowing) Mentoring
Brainstorming Multi-tasking
Bringing in Experts Networking
Case Studies On the job
Coaching Pairing/Shadowing
Counselling Presentations
Committee Assignments Projects
Conferences Reading/Reviewing
Delegating Research Assignment
Distance Learning Role Playing
Expanded Job Secondments
Exposure to Senior Management Self Development & Analysis
Feedback Seminars/Briefings
Films/Videos Simulations
Internet Task Forces
Job Enrichment  Team Building
Learning Logs Training Course
Learning Groups Visits

Your feedback on the above would be appreciated. If I can help you by discussing how best to turn a development need into improved performance, please contact David Brown at

scott brown
North Kilworth, Lutterworth, Leicestershire LE17 6HD
Tel: 01858 880840 Email:
davidbrown@scott-brown.co.uk