As part of the new Performance Excellence process, all MSU staff are expected to set goals and establish a professional development plan for the year. There is a distinct purpose for each, and both are intended to help the individual succeed and move the university forward. The following definitions will provide more clarity on the distinctions between goal setting and development planning.
In terms of goal setting, most staff members have numerous tasks that contribute to carrying out their position effectively. Sometimes it can be confusing as to what tasks or behaviors are a priority for the unit or that individual specifically. Setting goals is a way to bring clarity in regards to priorities and expectations for the year ahead. The goals don’t encompass everything that is expected, but those items that are seen as key for the coming year.
On the other hand, professional development identifies priority learning activities for the employee for the year ahead. Ongoing technological advances and the rapid pace of change make it imperative that all staff engage in learning activities each year. Development items can involve technical skills, such as using Outlook effectively or mastering the use of particular equipment, or it could involve more broadly needed skills such as communicating effectively or leading others. The skill building activity could include an online or instructor-led class, an opportunity to lead a project, job shadowing or other activities.
In short, the differences could be defined as:
- Goals identify key items the individual will achieve
- Development plan items identify skills the individual will learn or strengthen
It is imperative that supervisors work collaboratively with staff members to identify the goals and development plan items. Each party should come to the performance planning meeting with ideas for the items and jointly determine the final lists.
For further instructions around these issues, consider taking the following classes through Professional Development Services:
Boost Your Career – a class that will be offered in the fall to help staff explore their interests and to be active participants in goal setting and development planning.