The importance of your Personal Development Plan

  • Published
  • By By Col. Keith T. Wesley
  • 934th Operations Group commander
Two years ago, I offered commentary in this space on the importance of being ready for change. I offered advice on being ready to shift career gears on short notice, a topic that was still weighing on everyone's minds after the 934th appeared on the list of bases slotted for mission change. 

One of my recommendations then was to update one's development plan (Officer Development Plan or Enlisted Development Plan) at least once per year with one's short, medium, and long-term goals.  Since that time, I've taken part in three AFRC developmental boards and had a chance to see how these plans are used, both by commanders at home station and by DT board members giving career vectors.  I have a few pieces of advice.

First of all, your commander needs to know your career goals.  A commander can't help you with your career goals if he or she doesn't know them.  Oftentimes a commander may have a general idea of your goals from conversations with you or your supervisor, but nothing beats putting it in writing for your supervisor, commander, and developmental board.   The ODP/EDP process in VPC-GR allows you to communicate your civilian, military, education, and personal goals in a detailed manner.  Your commander will then be able to make logical plans for you based upon your known talents, your goals, and the needs of the unit.

Secondly, your developmental board needs your honest input to provide relevant career vectors for you.  Airmen complain when they get "canned", generalized career vectors, but those are usually written by board members who have problems deciphering the goals of airmen without ODPs/EDPs.  Even worse, some board members will assume an airman without a development plan is an airman who doesn't care about his or her career. 

Finally, communicating your goals takes only a few minutes of your time, and the process in VPC-GR can be updated as often as one likes.  Have your personal or career goals changed?  Did you just get promoted in your civilian job and don't have as much time for your military job?  Did you recently finish a degree or PME?  Has it been a year since you last updated your ODP/EDP?  If you can answer "Yes" to any of these questions, it's time to update your ODP/EDP.