Plan your personal development

As the professional body for people working in communication roles across government, we have a strong interest in your professional growth. In order to be a world-class communication service, you need to improve your skills, build your expertise and plan your career.

We provide training and resources that help you build learning into your professional life.

On this page:

A continuous professional development (CPD)

Working for a Whitehall department

As a GCS member working in Whitehall departments, you are required to complete at least 4 Continuous Professional Development (CPD) activities each year.

Each activity you complete qualifies for CPD points and you need to record a minimum of 20 points each year. Any development activity that helps you build your professional or leadership skills as a government communicator counts as CPD. You should aim to complete a variety of different activities.

Working for an arms-length body or agency

If you are working for an arms-length body or agency, you are advised to follow this process as you will be required to evidence your 4 CPD activities when applying for jobs in Whitehall departments.

Use a personal development plan (PDP)

To help plan your CPD and other general development we have produced a PDP for you to use.

We’ve included some development examples to help you fill it in. If you’re already using a similar form in your department or organisation, you can continue to do so. You should review and update your PDP at least 4 times a year and aim to have a completed PDP in place by the end of May.

Fill in your Personal Development Plan (Word, 140KB, 2 pages)

Planning your development with your manager

Before completing your PDP, you should have a discussion with your line manager about your professional developments.

The discussion should be arranged when you start a new job or at the start of the performance year, whichever comes first. The amount of time you spend with your manager in 1-2-1s will vary from person to person but you should aim for at least one performance discussion per quarter. Allow enough time to prepare for the meeting, thinking about what you want to discuss.
Use the meeting to go through your development plan and talk about what you’ve achieved and what you want to achieve. Be realistic about what you can do and by when. Which area or areas do you need to learn more about or gain experience in?

Use your results from the GCS skills survey as a basis for your discussion. Work with your manager and discuss what you need to do. You may already know what your development goals are and how you plan to meet them. If not, here are some questions to consider before and during your development discussion. Also consider them while filling out your PDP:

  • What skills and behaviours do I need to develop?
  • What do I need to learn or do to increase my skill in each MCOM area?
  • How will I measure success?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are there any barriers holding me back, what are they and how can I overcome them?
  • What do I enjoy most about my job?

For managers: supporting your employee

As a manager, you should be supporting your staff to develop themselves. It’s really important to allow time for development discussions as employees (and remember, you’re an employee too) feel valued if they’re given the time to talk about and plan their development.

Last-minute cancellations are sometimes unavoidable so do make sure you reschedule a missed appointment. If you’re unsure where to start in a development discussion, think about using coaching techniques (available on Civil Service Learning and the Learning Platform for government).

Employees are recruited because they’re the best and part of your job as a manager is to help them develop their skills and capabilities further. Discuss any feedback you’ve received about them, can you use it to help them plan their development? Talk about any training they’ve completed. What did they learn and how will they use it to improve their performance? Encourage them to share their learning with the rest of the team. This is also one of the ways they can evidence their CPD. Emphasise the importance of recording the minimum 4 pieces of CPD (a minimum of 20 CDP points).

For all

Learning can take many forms and your development goal could be achieved by reading guidance or attending a full-day training course. The PDP is yours to track your learning with your line manager and agree on how you will develop yourself. Keep it up to date, it’s a live document so record your learning and any new skills you’ve acquired and use it to evidence that you have achieved or are achieving your learning goals.

We have a learning offer covering all MCOM2 areas and leadership.

Professional bodies offer training and guidance. Any activity undertaken as part of your membership of an organisation such as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) or Chartered Institute of Marking (CIM) count towards your GCS CPD.

Civil Service Learning (soon to be replaced by the Learning Platform for Governement) offer training and guidance on a broad range of Civil Service skills. If the learning isn’t specific to communications it won’t qualify as CPD, but the PDP is for you to record all your development activities.

Apply your learning and share it with others to help them develop their skills.

Activities and CDP points

This is a guide to the types of activities you can complete to reach your target of 4 completed CPD activities. The yearly total must be a minimum of 20 points.

2 points

  • online learning (each session (module) completed)

5 points

  • reading and reviewing an academic text, book or video (each short text)
  • events (5 points per session)
  • delivering training (half a day)
  • attending a training course (half a day)

10 points

  • reading (full book)
  • coaching and mentoring (each session as a mentor or mentee)
  • job shadowing (each full day)
  • delivering training (full day)
  • attending a training course (full day)

20 points

  • studying a professional qualification
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