Keeping the goal in sight Are you determined to make it to the top and do you feel your progress towards your goal is proceeding quickly enough? If the answer is yes to the first question and no to the second, it could be time to stand back and consider what kind of personal development plans you should make. Research shows that the speed with which employees develop in their careers is dependent on three factors: the provision of opportunities for challenging work just outside an employee's comfort zone; the quality of sponsorship from senior management, and the degree of responsibility that individuals take for their own development. Nigel Cushion, of Samphire Management, which specialises in development for emerging managers, existing and aspiring managers in the first 10 years of their career, says that individuals can accelerate their career development by managing it as a programme. Cushion, who is Samphire's managing director, will be speaking at the Leading Edge annual convention on September 5. He said his organisation interviewed emerging managers from leading employers for research it conducted on behalf of the Association of Graduate Recruiters. It pinpointed 89 ingredients needed for accelerating personal development and divided them among 12 challenges'. The research showed that many managers wished they had taken more responsibility for their development earlier. It also highlighted an expectation gap between employee and employer about how long it would take for individuals to make it'. On average, emerging managers expect to hold a senior position within their organisation within two to four years, while their employers believe it will take between five and 10 years. A common problem recalled among those interviewed was the feeling they had of being cast adrift and undervalued at the end of their graduate training programme, where they had worked within a structure and with support. The 12 challenges listed below should help you to assess how you are growing within your job, whether there is action you could take to speed up your development and how much responsibility you take for your own progress. l Experience. To seek experience of the business world, and experience of the world of your host organisation', as quickly as possible. l Continuous learning. To develop an approach and mindset and an action plan to enable continuous learning. l Developing contacts and support. To build a network of contacts both inside and outside the organisation, and to build a support network at work. l Personal growth. To seek personal growth experiences. l Project working. To develop project working and project management skills and capabilities. l Developing the technical /professional manager­ acquiring the skills that give you the capability, credibility, and confidence to perform effectively in technical roles. l Developing the business manager­ with skills and business awareness that give the capability, credibility and confidence to engage in executive roles within the business. l Becoming a leader. To adopt a vision of the leader you might become and to set out on that journey. l Programme management. To treat personal development as a business programme, applying the rigours of good programme management techniques to it. l Company culture. To be working in a organisation where personal development is in harmony with the culture of the organisation. l Investment. To assess and improve the value you add to the business, hence proving the business case for your employment and development. l Value. To deliver a personal development programme that is in balance with personal philosophy, values, and life models. {{LEADING EDGE }}