An employee development plan provides your employees with a clear path on how they can advance in their careers and how to hone certain skills that will drive them towards success. If employees see that career goals are attainable and are provided a vision on how to attain them, they will be more incentivized to stay in the company to pursue those goals.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to create these opportunities to advance and learn. As Matthew Elmore, Co-owner of ERA Marketing says,
“It's in [your] best interest to create the opportunity [to move up] within your company.”
“Your employees are assets. You can let them stagnate and become depreciating assets, or you can help them become better and more valuable.”
Provide your employees with personal development plans that help them learn skills and leadership abilities in order to help them reach their full potential. Instead of only considering what the company needs, your development plans need to be individualized and created based on employee interests and skills.
By establishing a great employee development plan, you will see increased motivation among your employees, higher employee retention rates, and superior work being accomplished in the workplace. Here are a few steps to establishing a good plan:
Evaluate Your Company
The first thing you should do is evaluate your organization's needs. Consider what your objectives might be, both long-term and short-term. What direction do you see your company going? What is necessary to meet those objectives?
Having a clear understanding of current roles in your company and gaps that will need to be filled is an important start in determining the purpose of your employee development plans. For example, if you find that your company will need more leaders as it grows and expands, you can start by evaluating what skills those future leaders will need in order to be successful.
What works for other companies may not work for you! Every company has unique situations that need to be approached realistically. By evaluating the needs of your own organization, you'll better be able to create plans aimed at the overall success and goals of your company. You should always aim to create a strategy that fits your specific organization and employees to achieve optimal results.
Evaluate Your Employees
Next, you can look at your current employees and see who has the best capability for those particular roles. By understanding your needs and narrowing down candidates, you can begin preparing these employees and molding them into their potential future role.
Determine what skills they currently have and what skills they need to obtain. Adrienne Cooper, Chief People Officer of FitSmallBusiness, shares their company approach of creating a skills matrix to evaluate skills needed:
This skills matrix clarifies the skills and expectations of the roles at the company while anchoring development and progression conversations for managers and employees moving forward. Employees can see the skills needed for role progression, and managers can be clear in giving feedback to the employee about those skills.
This really helps empower employees to map out career paths that are of interest to them with their managers, and guide their personal and professional growth.
Also, be sure to evaluate your employees' potential and readiness for the development process. This ensures that you can focus time and resources on developing employees who are receptive and can fit well in new roles within the company.
Once you know have evaluated your employees, the next step is to begin creating or searching for proper training programs to help them develop those skillsets and abilities. These training programs will form the core of your employee development plans. It's important that these are personalized to the individual employee instead of generalized training.
Training may take various forms ranging from old school classroom instruction to modern digital curriculum. The type of training may differ depending on the nature of skills being imparted.
Before your employee begins these development plans, it's a good idea to sit down and formally communicate to them the purpose and significance of the plan. Help them understand how it will benefit them and the company. Consistent communication with your employees throughout the course of the development plan is the best way to determine what they need in order to thrive in the workplace.Ask them what direction they would like to see themselves going. Talk to them about their struggles, their strengths, and their performance. This feedback will allow you to build a relationship with your employees and inspire them to produce their best work.
In addition, communicating with your employees will enable you to determine what certain employees can offer and how they can be most beneficial to the company. You can then create different game plans and tactically develop these employees over time so that they are able to evolve into future leaders.
Networking and Cross-training
Boost employee skills by creating networking opportunities for your employees to meet other professionals in the field and discuss things related to their role. As part of their development, allow them to connect with groups or forums online and encourage them to express their opinions as they learn new things. Give them chances to lead teams and make management decisions based on what they learn from such events.
You can provide many growth opportunities if your company is able to set up a mentoring program among your employees. By providing employees with an experienced mentor to guide them through parts of their development plan, you are improving their ability to perform their assigned tasks. They are able to learn from their mentor's unique experience as well as knowledge and strategies on how to best perform at their role.
Mentors also benefit from the process of helping their mentee develop. Kris Hughes, Sr. Content Creator at Gembah says,
I’ve been on both sides of this fence as a manager in managing large teams of people building their experience, and also as a mentee learning from individuals who have much greater experience and foresight to offer than I.
Mentoring isn’t a one-way street, where you’re passing on your knowledge and experience to another person. While this is what most people think of in a mentoring relationship, if you’re open to it, you’ll find out as a mentor that your mentee can teach you through their perspective and experience.
Both sides grow together all while building trust and camaraderie between coworkers. You can assign mentors and mentees based on their roles and compatibility with each other.
Set Realistic and Meaningful Timelines
Provide your employees with milestones within a set timeframe. Having these milestones in a tangible timeline will inspire employees to attain those particular milestones. There are different types of goals and objectives you should have your employees strive towards, but the overall purpose of these short and long-term goals should ultimately lead to further development of your employees.
Your development plan should provide the employees with a roadmap of meaningful and measurable goals with deadlines they can understand and implement in the daily routine. Be sure to obtain their feedback and gather information on how they feel about the timelines.
Communicate with your employees and their superiors in order to determine the most effective and feasible milestones for certain employees. These milestones should enable your employee to develop both soft skills and technical skills related to their job. This, in turn, will push these employees to become meaningful contributors and future leaders of your company.
Be transparent with these timelines and milestones as well as the reward/benefits for completion. Achieving their development goal is a big accomplishment and deserves big recognition, usually in the form of promotion or pay raise Having these visible on the timeline will motivate employees to track and take control of their individual progress.
Give Constructive Feedback
Constructive feedback does not always have to include criticism or disapproval. Instead, it comes in the form of specific recommendations for development and improvement, given on a regular basis.
Chances are, your best employees will be very open to and welcome your feedback! Kenny Trinh of Netbooknews says,
Top performers are always looking for ways to enable themselves, be it by taking on new projects or adding new skills. A supervisor must be aware of team members’ personal and professional needs and aspirations and help them achieve those. Talented employees often look for feedback to improvise and add value to the team.
When giving feedback to your employees, aim to guide them through professional development. They will want to know how they are doing, so make sure to either acknowledge their success or give constructive feedback that will guide them in the right direction.
Appreciation is also key when it comes to motivating employees' performance. Show them how their efforts are helping the company and take this time to recognize and appreciate those efforts as part of your feedback.
Having a clear path set in front of your employees will allow you to retain talent. Not only will you see retention rates increase, but you will also see substantial growth and increased productivity due to the new skills employees will acquire through working through their personalized development plans. Most importantly, by developing employees, enabling them to taste progress within your company, and helping them gain a vision of growth and success, your company will, in turn, flourish from the results.
We like to think that ProSky is an awesome resource! Our platform allows you to create action plans with specific milestones for your employees to meet. You can include items such as training programs, team projects, individual challenges, goals, mentoring, and much more. By using ProSky, you will cut the costs and time spent on recruiting and training externally.
If you’re still here, we already know your company isn’t a cookie-cutter company right? So stop wasting your time with what everyone else is doing and get your own tailored plan going today. Not only will you see vast improvements in employee engagement, development, transparency, and culture, but you can cut costs and watch your company thrive!
If you’re ready to get started, contact one of our in-house specialists for a free consultation to see how pathways can drive explosive growth for your company!
Isabella Ang is a content marketing specialist at ProSky, a company that gives you the ability to innovatively evaluate candidates and develop employees through succession pathways, so you can recruit, hire, and retain the best diverse talent & culture fit. When she's not working on her next or ongoing projects for ProSky; she spends her days rock climbing, practicing yoga, completing her degree in Computer Science, and tutoring writing skills.