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Creating an employee development plan

All of us will be asked to do something during our careers that we’re not sure how to do. What happens next defines the kind of workplace we work in and the type of workplace we want to be a part of – ideally one that we’d want to be a part of.

Employees are often asked to magically learn new skills without guidance, coaching or on-the-job development. Some leaders simply don’t see employee development as a priority. It takes second place to the many other administrative and operational tasks a leader faces daily. But a team without an employee development framework and associated individual employee development plans sets a course for disaster, with no support to help identify and address capability gaps or drive employee and company goals.

The importance of employee development planning

Team members learn 90% of what they know on the job, so it stands to reason that structured learning interventions and an employee development process that plans for and guides employee development on the job is non-negotiable.

Development planning that assesses competencies and behaviours, and identifies gaps – and provides a plan to close those gaps – can improve business performance and help to reach business goals faster.

But employee development planning isn’t just about employee performance. Prioritising development and effective employee development plans can lead to other great results.

1.     Improving employee engagement

Increase employee engagement and job satisfaction by providing a framework for your employees to focus on their own career development. Incorporating career development and career goals into employee development plans demonstrates that your organisation is invested in your employees’ development. Less experienced employees might not be ready to think about future career planning, but will benefit from manager support and improving their core skills and behaviours.

2.     Future-proofing your business

Employee development plans can provide an action plan to address an organisation’s future needs. Plans that consider future roles, organisational needs, where leadership training is required and where training programs are needed to address employee skills gaps can help prepare for company growth.

3.     Reducing recruitment costs and increasing retention

Investing in individual employee development increases employee satisfaction, which in turn leads to better employee retention – reducing the significant costs and headache associated with recruiting and training new employees.

How do I prepare an employee development plan?

The most successful employee development plans are created between a manager and their employee. This kind of collaboration ensures that:

  • development goals can be identified and agreed on by both parties
  • the employee is realistic about what they can achieve
  • the business gains clarity on employee aspirations and their career goals.

Consider using an employee development plan template to capture action plans for the whole organisation and individual employees. Templates can help to ensure consistency across the organisation and make it easier to evaluate how the plans are working.

Create an effective employee development plan with these six steps

  1. Assess capability
    • Self and leader assessments are a great way to determine a baseline of current capability.
    • A skills gap analysis at this stage can identify where a training program may be required.
  2. Identify employee development goalsand company goals
    • Define employee career goals and align them with organisational goals to ensure the team member is on a development journey that helps both them and the organisation.
  3. Develop an action plan
    • Identify training and development opportunities to help bridge the gap between current and desired capabilities.
    • Ensure the employee development plan includes activities from the 70:20:10 principle (70% learned on the job, 20% from peers and leaders, and 10% from formal training programs).
  4. Map the plan to a timeline
    • Adding a timeframe to key activities maximises the chance of success. Be clear about when key activities should be completed.
  5. Identify resourcing
    • A great employee development plan won’t work if you don’t have the resources or time to implement it. Training employees requires investment in learning programs and individual support from management (via employee coaching and mentoring).
    • Ensure you have a plan for addressing any potential issues that may impact the success of the employee development plan.
  6. Document and track progress
    • Development plans can often end up as a ‘set and forget activity’. The reality is they are a fluid document that should be reviewed, adjusted and reflected on regularly.
    • Both employees and managers should track progress towards identified goals.

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Let’s explore examples of employee development goals

A telecommunications company wants to increase its market share. Across the company different teams are given KPIs, including the sales team.

  • The company’s overall KPI is to increase market share by 4% in regional areas.
  • The sales team has a KPI to lift sales conversions by 3.5%.

Rohit – a top seller looking for growth opportunities

Rohit is one of the sales team’s top sellers and eventually wants to become a team leader. Rohit and his manager use the employee development plan framework to progress Rohit’s career development and agree to set a long-term growth goal for Rohit to get experience in leading staff. In the medium-term, this will mean opportunities to mentor new starters.

Rohit’s goal: Take on additional responsibilities being a ‘buddy mentor’ to new starters one half day a week for 10 weeks. 

Rohit will use an employee development system to reflect on his experiences after each session and will discuss them with his manager. The team manager will track the progress of the new starters and ask for feedback about their buddying to determine the impact of Rohit’s mentoring. Rohit also has goals to maintain his excellent sales record while undertaking this development opportunity.

Kate – a new starter keen to improve her sales

Kate is a new team member in the sales team and has been struggling to meet her sales targets. Her manager has observed that in conversations with prospective customers, Kate has an opportunity to engage the customers by talking about featured product bundles. They agree to set a short-term goal tracked over one week.

Kate’s goal: Ask eight customers each day over a one-week period if they’ve heard of featured product bundles within the first 60 seconds of a call.

Kate and her manager will use an employee development system to record the goal and note how they’re tracking.

What are development opportunities?

Development opportunities can be any kind of activity that helps employees build capability in the areas you have identified in their employee development plan. This can include:

  • on-the-job observation and coaching
  • self-paced e-learning
  • learning journeys
  • mentoring
  • joining professional organisations
  • formal training and certifications
  • networking
  • attending conferences, webinars and workshops
  • taking on more responsibilities in a current role
  • stepping up to act in a more senior position temporarily
  • leading or contributing to a special project
  • opportunities to demonstrate specific behaviours while engaged in day-to-day activities.

What are the risks associated with creating an employee development plan?

The biggest risk to an employee development plan is apathy. Too often great plans are created … then forgotten as everyday priorities take over. Don’t let your organisation’s development plans gather cobwebs!

Make sure you are regularly tracking progress of your own and your team members’ development plans. To do this effectively, an employee development system that points leaders to the right actions (and frequency to support a development plan) is necessary.

YakTrak can help

YakTrak’s employee development software can help get your employee development programs on track, by:

  • motivating with regular goal setting and feedback
  • tracking and monitoring coaching progress and speed to competency
  • providing nudges when actions are almost due
  • establishing a consistent operating rhythm and cadence
  • embedding learning and coaching into the daily routine of your workforce
  • improving visibility over people development activities.

Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you.


Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

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