Development of human resources -- Part 4

personal career management and planning

Robert H. Rouda & Mitchell E. Kusy, Jr.

(C) copyright 1995 by the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry.

This is the fourth in a series of articles which originally appeared in Tappi Journal in 1995-96, to introduce methods addressing the development of individuals and organizations through the field of Human Resource Development. (The article has been updated, and is reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.)

There is an increasing need for individuals to take charge of the development of their own learning and careers for a variety of reasons: There is increasing rate of change of our organizations and in the knowledge and skills we need to perform our jobs. Career ladders are rapidly shrinking or disappearing as reorganizations lead to flatter structures. There is an ever-increasing need for us to keep learning to keep up with the rapid growth in knowledge and the rate of change of our workplace environments. And, involvement in one's own development fosters greater commitment to the process than other-directed activities.


Career development (CD) is now the primary responsibility of individuals in organizations. A recent survey of Human Resource Development Directors (1) indicates that they consider CD to be their least important function. This correlates with recent trends of disappearing corporate career paths and job security. Just as the responsibility for employee retirement planning is no longer a corporate function, the responsibility for learning and for the development of career paths has been downloaded to the individual employees.

Personal learning project management is a new skill for most people, one for which they have not been adequately prepared. The good news is that this responsibility also brings increased control over one's learning and career development, and the opportunity for a more stimulating and motivating work life.

The purpose of this article is to help you develop plans for individual career development for yourself and for other employees in your organizations. This process results in a document that has been referred to by such terms as an individual development plan, a learning contract, MBO (management-by-objectives) for personal learning, a personal "curriculum" for learning, and a plan for personal career advancement. The results may also be applied to the "development" section of most performance appraisal forms.


These methods have been used recently in a variety of university and industrial settings:


We use standard forms to help the learners follow a systematic process to prepare their learning contracts, individual development plans, or learning project management strategies. Here is what should be included in a personal learning plan: For each objective, identify the following:


  1. Johansen, K., Kusy, M., Jr., & Rouda, R., "The Business Focus of HRD Leaders: a picture of current practice", 1996 Academy of Human Resource Development Conference, Minneapolis, February 1996.
  2. Stout, D., "Performance Analysis for Training", Niagara Division of Consolidated Papers Inc., 1995.
  3. Kusy, M., Jr., Introduction to Human Resource Development -- class notes, University of St. Thomas, 1994.
  4. Rouda, R., "Pulp and Paper Process Operations: class notes for learning contracts", University of Minnesota, 1995 (unpublished work).
  5. Rouda, R. & Kusy, M., Jr., "Needs assessment - the first step", Tappi Journal 78 (6): 255 (1995).

Bob Rouda is a consultant on human resource development and process engineering, and is a research associate and student of organization development and change management at the University of St. Thomas. He has practiced education and training in the paper industry for 20 years. Mitch Kusy is professor of organizational learning and development at the University of St. Thomas, and is a practicing organization development consultant.

other articles in this series:
  1. Human Resource Development: Beyond training - a perspective on improving organizations and people
  2. Needs Assessment - the first step
  3. Organization Development - the management of change
  4. Career Development - personal career management and planning (this article)
  5. Managing Change with Large-Scale, Real-Time Interventions
  6. High Performance Training

This page is maintained by Robert Rouda.
CONTACT webmaster for information. Last update 5/4/96.