BlogHuman Resources

Creating an Employee Development Plan: Steps & Template

Jamie Olson
VP of People & Culture
Human Resources
March 7, 2024

Dive into the steps of crafting a comprehensive employee development plan, ensuring growth, retention, and aligning individual goals with organizational objectives.

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Are you looking to invest in the professional growth of your employees and drive success for your company?

Then it's time to create an employee development plan designed to increase engagement, productivity, and retention.

With the right plan in place, you can provide your employees with the tools they need to succeed, both now and in the future.

Let's dive in.

What is an Employee Development Plan?

An employee professional development plan outlines career goals and the steps to achieve them, including training, mentorship, and benchmarks. Developed collaboratively, it aligns personal aspirations with organizational needs, serving as a roadmap for career growth and continuous learning.

A professional development plan for employees is not a one-size-fits-all approach and tailors to each employee's unique needs and goals.

The Benefits of an Employee Development Plan

A professional development plan allows an employee to enhance their skills, knowledge, and capabilities. It provides a roadmap for personal growth, setting clear goals and identifying the necessary steps and resources to achieve them. With a professional development plan, employees can expand their expertise, advance their careers, increase job satisfaction, and contribute more effectively to their organization's success.

There are many benefits to implementing employee development plans, such as:

  1. Boosts Employee Satisfaction and Retention: A well-structured employee development plan shows that the company values its employees and invests in their professional growth.
  2. Improves Employee Skills and Competencies: It provides a roadmap for employees to enhance their skills, knowledge, and abilities, leading to improved job performance and effectiveness.
  3. Enhances Career Opportunities: It allows employees to explore new opportunities, gain new experiences, and career development, leading to greater job satisfaction, advancement, and potential salary increases.
  4. Increases Productivity and Efficiency: Employees who participate in professional development activities will be better able to handle job responsibilities, leading to increased productivity and efficiency.
  5. Supports Organizational Goals and Objectives: These plans help the organization's goals by ensuring that employees have the necessary skills and competencies to achieve them.
  6. Facilitates Succession Planning: A quality development plan helps organizations identify and groom potential successors, ensuring a smooth transition during crucial personnel departures.
  7. Improves Employee Engagement: It encourages employees to take an active role in their professional growth, leading to increased engagement, motivation, and commitment.

Types of Professional Development Plans

Professional development plans for employees can take many forms, including:

  • Career Development Plans focus on helping employees reach their long-term career aspirations.
  • Skill Development Plans concentrate on improving specific skills or areas of expertise.
  • Leadership Development Plans focus on preparing employees for leadership positions.
  • Succession Planning focuses on preparing employees for key leadership positions that may become vacant.

Critical Elements of an Individual Development Plan

An individual development plan should include the following key elements:

  • Career Goals: Outline the employee's long-term career aspirations.
  • Skills Assessment: Identify areas of strength and areas for improvement.
  • Action Steps: Develop a plan of action to reach career goals and improve skills.
  • Timeline: Establish a timeframe for achieving career goals and completing skill-building activities.
  • Regular Check-Ins: Schedule regular check-ins to track progress and make any necessary adjustments.

How to Create an Employee Development Plan

Creating an employee development plan requires collaboration between the employee and their manager.

Here are the steps to follow to create an effective development plan for employees:

Step #1: Identify the organization's development goals

The first step in creating an employee development plan is to understand the organization's development goals. Figuring out what the goals are will help you align your employee development plan with the company's overall objectives.

Step #2: Assess your employees' skills and abilities

The next step is to assess your employees' current skills and abilities. Evaluating your employees will help you to identify their strengths and weaknesses and what kind of development they need to reach their full potential.

Step #3: Set individual development goals

Based on the employee skills assessment results, set individual development goals for each employee. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

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Step #4: Identify development activities

Once the individual development goals finalize, identify the development activities that will help each employee reach their goals.

These activities include training programs, mentorship, job shadowing, coaching, and more.

Step #5: Create a timeline

Establish a timeline for the employee development plan, including specific deadlines for completing each development activity.

A timeframe will keep the development plan on track and ensure they meet promptly.

Step #6: Track progress and evaluate results

Regularly track progress and evaluate the results of the employee development plan. Frequent check-ins will help you assess whether the development activities effectively assist employees in reaching their goals and make any necessary adjustments.

Step #7: Adjust the development plan as needed

Based on the progress tracking and evaluation results, adjust the employee development plan as needed to ensure its continued success.

Step #8: Communicate the plan with employees

Finally, communicate the development plan with your employees and ensure they understand their goals and expectations. Encourage their participation and support in the process.

Examples of Professional Development Plans for Employees

Here are some real-world examples of professional development plans for employees:

  1. A sales representative looking to improve their presentation skills might set a goal to present to a minimum of three new prospects per week and attend a presentation skills workshop.
  2. A marketing coordinator looking to move into a management role might set a goal to complete a leadership development program and take on additional responsibilities within their current position.
  3. An engineer looking to move into a project management role might set a goal to complete a project management certification and participate in mentorship or coaching programs to develop leadership skills.

Employee Development Plan Template

To help get you started with creating an employee development plan, here is a template you can use:

  1. Goals: Outline the goals and objectives employees want to achieve through their development plan.
  2. Timeline: Establish a timeframe for when the employee wants to accomplish each goal, including intermediate milestones.
  3. Resources: Identify the resources the employee will need to achieve their goals, including time, budget, and support from others.
  4. Action Steps: Outline the specific steps the employee will take to accomplish each goal, including any training or development activities, on-the-job experiences, and support from others.
  5. Performance Metrics: Establish how the employee will measure their progress towards achieving each goal, including qualitative and quantitative metrics.
  6. Review and Feedback: Plan regular check-ins to review progress and provide feedback on the employee's development plan and opportunities to adjust the plan as needed.

Summing up Employee Development Plans

In conclusion, an employee development plan is essential for both employees and organizations. It provides a roadmap for employee growth and career development while aligning employee goals with the organization's needs. With a well-designed employee development plan, employees can focus on their growth. At the same time, organizations can attract and retain top talent and build a solid and effective workforce for the future.

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About the Author
Jamie Olson, VP of People & Culture at Continu
Jamie Olson
VP of People & Culture

Jamie Olson is the VP of People and Culture at Continu, a leading Learning Management System (LMS) company. With almost 20 years of experience in Human Resources, Jamie brings a wealth of knowledge in areas such as Learning and Development, Employee Training, Talent Management, and Performance Management. She's passionate about creating environments that foster learning and growth, and she's an expert in leveraging technology to enhance HR processes. Jamie's insights are grounded in her extensive experience and her commitment to helping organizations cultivate a culture of continuous improvement.

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