June 15, 2021
Training and Development 25 May 2020
5 Quick Steps on Writing a Killer Employee Development Plan
Charles Ebert

In all employee development circles, it’s often said that the manager who develops employees is better off than the one who’s simply managing the employees. The simple reason for this assertion is that the former is helping the employees improve whereas the latter is simply overseeing the completion of tasks. This fact is closely tied to all employee development plans

When devising suitable employee development plans, it is essential that you provide your employees with opportunities to advance their skills and competencies and also to map out a clear career direction for them. This enables them to improve their skillsets, which is a plus for them and your company in the long run. This article will consider some 5 quick steps for writing a killer employee development plan.

1. Revisit Your Business Objectives

Your employee development plans should be closely aligned with your business objectives. Thus, the first step when creating employee development plans is to consider all the business objectives; both short term and long term. 

Perhaps, your marketing department needed to digitalize. Or maybe there is an urgent need for someone to head one of the subsidiaries in another country. Possibly, the accounting department has to implement new accounting software, and all members need to master its workings.

These are just some of the short and long-term business objectives that your business may be having. Once you've revisited them, you can now point out the human capital that’s necessary to support those objectives.

For example, on the objective of digitalizing the marketing department, you may start by training the marketing managers first on multiple advanced digital aspects that they can implement in the department. After training the managers, embark on the training of their officers on the digital aspects of marketing. After everyone has received this training, delegate the task of implementing the digitalization process to the marketing managers. 

This is an efficient and effective way of employee development. Moreover, it is a cost-effective way of achieving your organizational objectives. Instead of recruiting new employees who are trained in digital marketing, developing your own employees is much cheaper and less time-consuming.

2. Evaluate the Readiness of the Employees and their Potential

Before you go ahead with your employee development plan, you must first evaluate the employees to gauge their potential and readiness for the development process. This ensures that you don’t waste time and resources in developing employees who are not receptive and who don’t have any utility to the company. 

While an employee may have the potential to develop, that is, the ability and skill, he/she may not be ready for development. Readiness denotes:

  • The desire to learn and progress

  • Having an open mind

Therefore, you must assess each employee in these two respects, so that the ones who undergo the development have both the potential and the readiness to be developed.

Alex Dyer, the CEO of Tutor House gauges his employee's readiness by communicating with them regularly. He states, 

"Our enthusiastic, hardworking, and ambitious employees understandably want to know that their hard work here will pay off with promotions, higher pay, and recognition - both within the company and should they want to move on to other roles in the future. We have addressed this concern through regular communication with every team member, particularly in personal quarterly reviews which focus on each employee's goals within the company and how they would like their role to progress. We’ve found that when employees feel that, not only is there an opportunity for promotion, they have a say in which direction their career within the company goes, their commitment to the organization increases dramatically."

3. Talk to Each Targeted Employee

This is not just a casual talk with your team members. It is an objective talk to get a better understanding of the target group for the employee development plan. Assuming that you know each employee’s competencies, level of skill, and ambitions would be detrimental to the process. Having a one-on-one talk with them is better in ascertaining their career goals and aspirations.

Have some topics to compare and contrast during this talk. Ask them to evaluate themselves and their work. Have them share their challenges while performing their duties. Let them share the points at which they struggle in their line of duty and ask them if some additional training or mentorship would be beneficial for them.

You will be surprised that some employees already have their own self-initiated development plans. About 76% of employees want opportunities to grow in their careers. Some may have thought of developing their skills but didn’t know how to get started. Others were unsure if their ambitions would be supported by the company. Another lot of the employees may not be aware that they have potential and are ripe for development. Finally, others would just need some encouragement for them to exert themselves.

Talking to the employees may help them to realize their full potential and thus serve as a motivator for development. To illustrate: Phoebe is considered as the astute marketer in the company owing to her prowess in marketing. The marketing department is under the commercial manager. Her ambition is to be the commercial manager. However, she is reluctant to take some sales and procurement classes. By letting her realize that a portfolio of sales, marketing and procurement is a prerequisite for becoming the commercial manager, she may have a change of heart and ultimately start on the classes.

Thus, the importance of talking to your employees cannot be over-emphasized.

4. Determine the Best Employee Development Plans

At this point, you’ve already identified the company objectives and the employees that are ripe for the development process. The only remaining part is to devise how the employees will undergo the development. Development programs may take various forms such as the old school classroom instruction. Of recent time, instruction is now being made virtually through online forums. Other forms of development may be considered depending on the nature of skills being imparted. 

They include:

  • Special assignments
  • On the job training
  • Networking
  • Coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Apprenticeship
  • Working directly under authority in a certain field

In some other respects, you could regularly give the employees small tasks that relate to the desired position for them to have a feel for what they would do once they attain the position. This develops them mentally and also skills-wise for the aspired job. It is a great way to encourage employees to work and grow while still in the company.

5. Create Action Plans

These action plans should relate to the events preceding the development training, during the training and after the training. They should be time-bound and clear.

The events preceding could be prepping the employees for the development training possibly through formally communicating it to them and having them understand its significance to them and the company.

During the training, you could give them time away from their normal duties. You could arrange for someone to cover their shifts while they are away on training.

After the training, you could now help the employees to apply their newly acquired skills. Set the right atmosphere for them to apply their skills to give them the opportunities to refine them.

Given time, the employees are bound to master the skills and perform them effortlessly.


Creating an employee development plan is one undertaking that has immense benefits in the long run. It makes you have the necessary human capital in your workforce. It also builds an elite workforce that will always work diligently to the achievement of the organization's objectives and the employee's personal career ambitions. These five steps can help you write a killer employee development plan that will spell success to your entire organization.

Author's Bio: Charles is a career mentor, motivational speaker & human resources consultant with over 10 years of experience in HR sector. Apart from career mentoring, he loves photography and football. Find him on LinkedinTwitterFacebook & Google+.