Talented and skilled employees care about their personal improvement and career progression. And it’s hard to keep them at your company if you don’t offer them a clear employee development plan.

If you haven’t created a decent employee development plan for your staff, let’s see why it’s so important and build one in 5 steps!

What is an Employee Development Plan?

An employee development plan is a well-thought-out plan that maps out a clear direction on how employees can increase their skills and advance their careers, as well as listing out improvement opportunities that employees can have while working at your company.

When planned and carried out effectively, this plan can bring benefits to both business and employees. Employees can expand their skill sets, hence contributing more to the business.

Benefits of Employee Development Plan

Improve Employee Engagement

An employee development plan is critical for employee engagement. When employees see where they stand in your company and how they can move forward in their career, they’ll be more engaged to their job.

For businesses that lack a clear development path, employees have little motivation to contribute and lack enthusiasm for the job. They’ll see their current role as temporary and seek opportunities elsewhere.

Better Use of Employee’s Talent

An employee development plan has to be based on the employee’s strengths and weaknesses. By learning about employee’s abilities, as well as their working attitude and behavior, managers can make better use of employees’ skills and put them in the right positions. Moreover, through the employee development plan, leaders can organize seminars or provide their staff with learning opportunities.

Retain Employees

Finding talent is hard work, but keeping existing skilled employees is even more difficult. If you don’t provide an effective training process and a clear career graph, employees will leave and you’ll have to start the recruitment process again.

5 Steps for Creating an Effective Employee Development Plan

1. Consider Your Business Goals

Before setting goals for employees, you need to take a look at your business goals. To meet those goals, what does your business expect from employees? Identify the knowledge, skills, and competencies needed to support those goals. This will help you figure out which positions your business needs and organize plans to nurture your employees’ talent.

a man considering business goals to create employee development plan

2. Discuss with Your Employees

If you’re confident that you understand your employees’ skill level and their career goals, think again!  Not everyone is willing to share their needs or even know what they want to achieve in their career.

Some of your employees may already have development plans but don’t know how to get started. Some haven’t realized their true potential. Others might wonder if you will support them and need some encouragement to get to the next step.

To understand your employees thoroughly, you should have a conversation with them. Ask your employees to evaluate their performance and talk about challenges they’re facing currently. Through conversations, you and your staff can work together to figure out what to put in the development plans.

3. Assess Potential and Readiness

Before putting anything into plans, consider the potential and readiness of each team member. They’re actually two different concepts. 

Readiness indicates whether your staff is ready for development or promotion. Some may be interested in being promoted to a management position, but need more training to fit this role. Others may never want to become a manager even though they have the potential to be one.

Many leaders assume that someone who’s decent at their job can also do well as a manager. In fact, management requires a different set of qualities and handling a wide range of challenges.

So make sure to differentiate between potential and readiness, find out your employees’ preferences, and plan accordingly.

4. Plan the Forms of Training

Each employee needs different training opportunities, depending on their role, expertise, and needs. And you can plan various forms of training based on your budget, including classroom training, online courses, coaching and mentoring, cross-training, hiring experts, seminars, etc. You don’t always have to choose expensive courses that you can’t afford.

You can also implement group training, in which employees learn from each other. Staff can prepare their own speech, share their experience, or demonstrate an important skill. Participants can discuss, exchange their thoughts, and learn from the exprienced.

a barista training new staff on how to prepare a cup of coffee

5. Put the plan on paper

Once you have identified specific learning and training opportunities, it’s time to create a plan for them. Make sure there are specific goals and deadlines. It can be difficult to monitor progress if the goals are ambiguous, too ambitious, or don’t have a time limit. Consider what to put in these 3 time frames: before, during, and after.

Before

Before training or assigning tasks, state why employees are required to learn this new skill, what you expect them to learn, and what benefits they can get.

During

There should be specific and actionable tasks or exercises for the during-training phase. To get the most out of your investment, your employees need to be able to put new skills into practice, not just absorb a bunch of theory and do nothing.

After

After training, help your employees apply their new skills in the workplace. Give them some opportunities where they can quickly apply new skills to the job. Give them instant feedback to help them refine their skills.

You’ll also have to test the results by evaluating employees’ performance. This way you can give timely feedback and create better employee development plans.

Put the Plan into Action!

After everything is ready on paper, it’s time to put the plan into action. Implement the employee development process as planned.

Instead of implementing these plans for many employees at once, you may want to start with one or two people. Observe and evaluate the plans to see if they’re effective or not.

Ask yourself these questions: Is the content of the training program suitable and easy to apply? Is it attractive and helpful enough for employees? What should you change to make the plans become more effective?

Creating an employee development plan not only helps businesses improve their workforce’s efficiency and skills, but also improves employee satisfaction. And when your employees are happy, they’re less likely to find work elsewhere.

Read more about how to create a SMART employee development plan.

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