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How do I construct an employee development plan?

How do I construct an employee development plan?
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Every employee is different so every employee requires an individual plan for their professional development. If you're thinking of a development plan then you first need to get employees to provide input into their plan before you can put it into action.

Mutual advantages
Creating the right employee development plan is a win-win for the employer and the employee.

Trained and developed employees perform better and are more motivated, and the company receives the benefits of this in superior and more consistent performance.

Additionally, there is always the company's long term future to consider, and not developing employees properly leads to a loss of talent as they seek opportunities elsewhere.

Developing an employee involves improving his or her skills in their current job as well as developing them for future responsibilities and new positions.

To a large degree, the areas required for employee development include:

  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Skills training
  • Supervisory skills

As an employer, manager or team leader, it is largely your job to develop your people. Naturally, employees can always take the decision to improve their own skills, but at the very least you can facilitate this.

Increasingly, however, most companies will seek to hold managers responsible for the development of their employees; in fact, employee development becomes a part of the manager's own performance appraisal.

A basic employee development plan
Not all development plans are the same, yours must be tailored to suit the needs of your company as well as the employee, and fit the nature of your company's work.

Any employee development plan needs employee buy-in, so you need to prepare employees and get them thinking about their own development.

They need to think about the following:

  • What skills are needed to do their job?
  • How well do they perform them?
  • What significant results and accomplishments have they achieved?
  • What would help them perform better or help them to do a better job?
  • What changes would they like to see in their job?
  • What goals do they have?
  • What action have they, themselves, undertaken to progress in their career?
  • What activities would help them to develop?

Asking the above during their performance appraisal is the natural way to achieve buy-in and participation

Their answers will determine whether they want to develop, how they want to develop and help guide the discussion towards action

Monitoring Progress
Like most things in life, the success of an employee development plan is as much due to your planning, input and measurement as the keenness of the employee.

This requires that you:

  • Constantly monitor progress, encourage and direct
  • Schedule regular meetings to discuss how things are going
  • Review any quantity and quality measures that are relevant

Once the individual is on a development strategy, constant feedback from the employee is critical to the success of the developmental process.

Not providing feedback and monitoring suggests to the individual that their development is not your concern. This immediately leads to a lack of motivation and, worse, dissatisfaction.

However, offering employees the encouragement and support they need boosts confidence and promote success.

If things aren't going well for any particular individual, focus on what went right. Don't forget, if you are asking the person to go beyond their current level (and they have agreed to try this) then you may need to guide them in smaller steps.

The ultimate success in developing the employee depends on your willingness to make it work as much as the individual themselves.