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CPD management software system wizBank Cyberwisdom

The CPD Cycle​

Learn about how the CPD cycle can help you structure your CPD

Stages of the CPD cycle

  • Identify: Understand where you've come from, where you are and where you want to be.

  • Plan: Plan how you can get to where you want to be, with clear outcomes and milestone to track progress.

  • Act: Act upon your plan, and be open to learning experiences.

  • Reflect: Make the most of your day-to-day learning by routinely reflecting upon experience.

  • Apply: Create opportunities where you can translate theory into practice and put your learning to work.

  • Share: Share your learning in communities of practice to generate greater insight and benefit from the support of your community.

  • Impact: Measure the overall impact your learning has had on the work you do.

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Stage 1: Identify and plan

When starting your CPD journey, we recommend starting with the ‘Identify’ stage in order to gain perspective and ask yourself the fundamental question - '‘where am I and where do I want to get to?’. This will then allow you to 'Plan' your future course of action.


The CPD cycle is a cyclical process and your learning is continuously evolving. However, it’s important to identify what learning you want and/or need, that supports your aspirations and plan how you’ll do this.

To understand your current position or assess yourself at a higher level, we recommend you use the self-assessment tool on the CIPD Learning Hub so you can map your capability against the Profession Map standards and identify gaps in your knowledge and behaviours. 

To access the self-assessment tool login in to the CIPD Learning Hub.


Use My Learning Plan on the CIPD Learning Hub to create and curate your own bespoke learning plan. You can include learning recommendations from the self-assessment tool, or add any other learning activities, actions or resources from any source that you’d like (for example, activities coming out of a mentoring or coaching conversation). 

The planning stage can be started at any point throughout the year, but you may find it useful to align it with your annual development or performance review. 

Stage 2: Act

It's likely that your plan will include a mixture of keeping up to date with your area of expertise, learning about the external environment and developing new skills. 

By using My Learning Plan on the CIPD Learning Hub you’ll know that the time you spend learning is focused, impactful and goal-oriented. 

To access My Learning Plan you need to login in to the CIPD Learning Hub.

Stage 3: Reflect

Learning reflection is a proven way to help embed your learning and enhance your professional practice. 

That’s why we’ve developed My CPD Reflections tool to provide an online space to review and reflect on your learning. Reflection takes place via a series of four structured questions, which take you deeper into your understanding of your learning.  

You’ll consider what you’ve learned, through to how that learning could have a wider positive impact. 

These researched and tested questions enable you to consider how you have developed and changed as a result of your learning, which is part of everyone's continuing professional development. 

To access My CPD Reflections you need to login in to the CIPD Learning Hub.

Stage 4: Apply

If you’ve been following the CPD cycle, you will have been continually reflecting upon your learning. Now is the time to develop a strategy for how you will apply the learning.

Our CPD policy is focused on results. That means that we’re primarily focused on the output of your learning, or in other words how you’ve applied your learning in the work you do.

Embedding learning requires repetition, so creating opportunities where you can continually revisit learning through application will ensure the benefits are long lasting. This might mean starting a new project at work, volunteering for new challenges outside your comfort zone or simply a case of continually seeking feedback from those you work with.

You’ll also find that there will be aspects of your learning that aren’t quite ready to be put into action or applied to your work. It’s important to note that learning happens incrementally and so there will be things that will likely need to be revisited in your next iteration of the CPD cycle.

The application of learning will lead your CPD to become a shared experience with those you work with, which leads us onto the Share stage of the cycle.

'To learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.' - Stephen R. Covey

Stage 5: Share

This stage involves sharing your learning in communities of practice in order to generate greater insight and benefit from the support of your community.

The great thing about this stage is that it’s a very natural progression from application, you most likely do it already. Think about the last time you had an insight; you probably shared it with a colleague, friend or family member, whether it was to benefit them or simply because you were excited to have learned something new.

Learning is an inherently social process, and the learning doesn’t end once we’ve applied it. There are still many lessons to be learned through feedback and iteration. Sharing learning is a great way to collaborate with others, build networks and exchange ideas.

Many HR and L&D professionals choose to share their learning within our thriving online communities on LinkedIn, Twitter or the Communities platform. But whether you use social media, blogging platforms or even collaborative learning tools, it’s a great way to showcase yourself to employers or clients and take control of your online identity.

Of course, you can also share offline. There’s a wealth of opportunities to do so through our branch network and special interest groups, or via conferences and exhibitions throughout the year.

Stage 6: Impact

Impact is created through having a robust approach to your professional development and building the habitual behaviours that support effective CPD. Take the time to celebrate the impact you've created and think about ways you can ensure greater impact in the future.

Our CPD approach focuses on outputs instead of inputs. With this stage you should focus on how you’ve actually applied this new learning and how this supports you, your team and/or organisation. Ideally these will be measurable outcomes e.g. how and what have you done to improve services, reduce costs, increase revenue, save time, etc.

It can also be helpful to evaluate progress against the objectives you set at the beginning of the year. To help you along, it's important to take the time to reflect upon your experience through each of the cycle stages. Some questions you might want to ask yourself are:

  • What have I learnt?

  • Did I achieve my learning outcomes?

  • What kind of unplanned outcomes or challenges arose from this experience?

  • Which barriers or blocks did I have to overcome?

  • How have I applied this this learning at work?

  • What was the impact of this learning to my organisation (tangible measurements, if possible)?

  • What lessons can I take from this experience?

Not all of your learning will get to this stage, as you may not have had the opportunity to apply it in practice, but this stage will help you to measure the overall impact you've created in order to understand whether the actions you've taken have led to meaningful change.

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