How To Set Development Goals for Work (With Examples)

Updated September 12, 2022

Career development goals provide an opportunity to hone your abilities, learn new skills, and gain more experience. You can set these goals to achieve new milestones or collaborate with your colleagues to improve your skills. Knowing how to set these goals gives you an edge in advancing your career. In this article, we define career development goals for work, explain why they're important, and present steps to set them.

What are development goals for work?

Development goals for work are the objectives you set to improve your capabilities, skills, and character. Creating these goals requires a self-assessment to identify the areas on which you need to improve. For example, if your supervisor asks you to build a mobile application for your organization, you can decide to learn more about the topics related to mobile apps.

Setting goals to achieve within a specific time frame motivates you to work hard and makes your job easier as you continue to learn. You can use these goals to prove your capabilities to your team and your manager. This is great if you intend to request a promotion to show your manager you feel committed to your job.

  • Related: Responding to "What Are Your Career Goals?" (With Examples)

  • Related: Goal vs. Objective (Differences, Definition, and Examples)

Why are these goals important?

Career development goals contribute significantly to your career advancement. The following are some of the advantages of setting career development goals:

Improve focus

Development goals for work help you avoid distraction because you already know what you want to achieve. You are aware of the amount of time you need to achieve them, which keeps you focused on getting the desired results. When you set up your career goals, your priorities become clear.

Related: Personal Development Goals For Career Success

Build better workplace relationships

When you're focused on achieving what you have set, you provide a good example for others to follow. Your colleagues may start to admire you the more you improve, and you may become a role model. Naturally, people want to be associated with those who are setting a good precedent. Your managers and colleagues might also see you as more reliable and ambitious, which can help you advance your career.

Lead to more productivity

Many factors influence productivity in the workplace. One of them is your ability to acquire new knowledge and hone existing skills. Setting career development goals is another way to achieve greater efficiency and enhance productivity by clearly defining what you need to do and what you want to accomplish.

How to set development goals

You can set both short- and long-term career development goals. Reaching them is important, and as you focus on the long-term, it is vital to pay attention to the short-term goals as you need them to realize the long-term ones. Follow these steps to start achieving your career development goals:

1. Create a vision

The first step involves identifying what you want to achieve within a specific time frame. This can include going back to school to acquire more knowledge to excel in your areas of improvement. Whatever your vision is, you can set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART) goals. By doing so, you focus your energy on goals within your capabilities.

Read more: SMART Goals: Objectives for Your Career

2. Identify your goals

Once your vision is clear, the next step is to identify your goals. There are four primary categories for development goals: productivity, education, efficiency, and personal development. For example, suppose you want to develop your coding knowledge. Your goal could be to complete a continuing education course or work alongside an experienced coder to gain this new skill.

Make sure your goals are clear and relevant to what you want to achieve. Sometimes it's okay to ask for help if you find it challenging to set new goals. For example, when focused on acquiring new programming skills to gain a competitive edge, you may want support in deciding between enrolling for a new course or working with your managers to gain expertise.

Related: Setting Goals To Improve Your Career

3. Create a plan

To achieve your vision, you need a plan to advance from one step to the next. A good plan must help you segment your goals into manageable and trackable steps. It helps measure whether you're making progress and getting the most out of the time you have allocated.

Your plan needs to help you achieve both short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals help give you the momentum you need toward reaching your long-term ones. It becomes easier to identify and celebrate the smaller milestones that get you closer to your long-term goals.

Related: How To Create an Action Plan To Help You Achieve Your Goals

4. Track your progress

Document every achievement as you work on your progress. Make sure to note even the slightest improvement you make. It becomes easier to point out areas you need to improve to reach your goals faster. Use tools like a notebook planner to keep a record of your progress. For example, you can create a vision board that shows you what you have achieved and which tasks are pending every day.

5. Review your plan regularly

Reviewing your progress often is a good way to determine if the path you're on is worthwhile. For example, if you aim to achieve your goals in six months, you can review progress monthly. Depending on your progress, you can determine if you are on the right track or would benefit from making changes to reach your goal more quickly. Make sure to track every new approach you take after implementing a change to know if it's working for you.

Examples of professional goals for work

There are many career development goals you can set, including:

Improve your networking

Networking plays a crucial role in your career advancement. The positive relationships you create and those you maintain with coworkers, superiors, and other professionals in your field can provide opportunities and affect your personal growth. Deciding to improve your networking abilities can also help you advance your career.

Related: 12 Examples of Career Goals for Professional Growth

Learn a foreign language

Speaking another language can make you more employable to some businesses because you can communicate with more customers or clients. Learning a new language is a great career development goal and can also benefit you in your personal life. It can help you understand more about another culture and make it easier to travel. It's an excellent life skill, and there are several ways to pursue this goal, including evening courses, language exchange meetings, and mobile apps.

Learn new tools

Today, businesses rely on different tools to accomplish day-to-day tasks, and mastering these tools can help you impress your employer. For example, if your company introduces new software, create a career development goal to become proficient with the program. You can then help your colleagues when they have questions, making you a valuable asset to the organization. This new skill may also be transferrable to another role or company if they use the same software, making you more employable.

Ask for feedback

Getting feedback from your colleagues or managers can help you overcome your weaknesses and improve your strengths. Set a goal to seek feedback from your coworkers or supervisors periodically. For example, you can request a one-on-one meeting or suggest regular peer evaluations.

Develop your communication skills

Being able to communicate well at work enhances your efficiency. Strive to improve your verbal and written skills to a level where you feel you are comfortable communicating. For verbal communication, you can take part in different public speaking scenarios. You can use grammar tools to ensure your emails, reports, and presentations are clear, concise, and error-free with written communication.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Apply for a promotion

Career development is very satisfying, but you need to prove you deserve to be in the next position. Seeking to fill a role with more responsibilities challenges you to acquire new skills to ensure you remain focused. Consider chatting with your manager in advance to be sure of what needs your attention.

Related: How To Get a Promotion in 11 Steps (Plus Tips)

Complete a professional program

A professional certificate or degree is a top consideration for career development. Most hiring managers consider them to hire and promote employees. They help you gain new skills and can help you apply for future promotions. Depending on how flexible your schedule is and how soon you need the certificate or program, you can choose between short- and long-term courses.


Related articles

How To Create a Professional Development Plan in 5 Steps

Explore more articles

  • A Guide to Effective Group Communication (With Tips)
  • Everything You Need To Know About the Communication Process
  • 5 Business Improvement Techniques Including How-to Steps
  • How to Write a Character Reference Letter for a Friend
  • What Are Change Management Skills? (With Examples)
  • How To Work Faster (With Tips and Why It's Important)
  • What Is a Code of Conduct (Definition and Examples)
  • How to Calculate Predetermined Overhead Rate in 4 Steps
  • What Is Distribution Marketing? (Definition and Terms)
  • Tangible Skills: Definition, Examples, and How to Improve
  • 6 Formats for Weekly Sales Reports (Plus Benefits)
  • 6 Free Online Certifications to Consider (With FAQs)