How to Create a Goal-Oriented Employee Development Plan

December 04, 2023 by Cynthia Orduña

In the ever-evolving landscape of the modern workplace, attracting and retaining top talent has become a paramount concern for organizations. One crucial strategy to achieve this is the creation of a comprehensive employee development plan. 

As an HR professional or manager, you play a pivotal role in this process. You must craft plans that not only benefit individual employees, but also align with the organization’s broader goals. 

To help you accomplish this, we’ll explore the following in this article:

  • What an employee development plan is
  • The benefits of an employee development plan
  • How you can create an employee development plan for your organization

What Is an Employee Development Plan?

An Employee Development Plan (EDP) is a structured approach to enhancing an employee’s skills, knowledge, and abilities. It is a strategic tool that identifies an employee’s current competencies, sets clear goals for their development, and outlines the steps and resources necessary to reach those goals. 

As an employee advances in their career, their professional development plan should evolve to match their current situation. The plan ideally remains flexible, adapting as the employee gains experience and modifies their goals. 

Your role in this process is to serve as a guiding hand, providing support and direction as they navigate their development journey.

The Benefits of an Employee Development Plan

According to a study conducted by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), companies that invest in employee development experience a 24 percent higher profit margin compared with those that don’t. This statistic underscores the business value of effective employee development plans, making them a strategic investment for long-term success.

Employee career development plans offer a structured framework for skill enhancement, enabling employees to identify areas for improvement and acquire new knowledge and competencies. These plans are intrinsically linked to career advancement, providing employees with a clear path for growth within the organization. This, in turn, reduces employee turnover and promotes job satisfaction.

Employee development plans also serve as a powerful motivator. Employees who recognize their employer’s investment in their growth tend to be more engaged and committed.

The benefits of employee development plans also extend beyond talent retention, improved job performance, and the identification of future leaders through succession planning. They also foster adaptability and innovation, which are critical in an ever-evolving business landscape. Enhanced competencies contribute to better team dynamics, collaboration, and knowledge sharing, which, in turn, enhance a company’s reputation as an employer of choice.

In essence, these plans offer a win-win scenario, benefiting both employees and organizations by fostering personal and professional growth, job satisfaction, improved performance, and long-term success in a competitive marketplace.

How to Create an Employee Development Plan 

Creating a goal-oriented employee career development plan requires a structured and thoughtful approach. Here are the steps to guide you through the process:

1. Identify Goals and Objectives 

Before crafting an employee development plan, it’s crucial to determine what you want to achieve with it. Start by identifying the overarching goals and objectives for the employee’s development. Consider the employee’s current role and their career aspirations. Are there specific skills or competencies they need to acquire to progress within the organization? 

You’ll want to arrange one-on-one meetings with your employees to delve into their career development aspirations. Scheduling these meetings in advance offers your employees the opportunity to prepare as well. Then in the course of the meeting, inquire about their career objectives, their envisioned role within the company in the future, or any skills they deem advantageous for their present and future responsibilities. It’s essential to attentively listen to their responses, and actively seek opportunities to align their personal goals with the current requirements and growth trajectory of your organization. 

2. Assess the Employee’s Current Skills 

To create an effective employee development plan, you need to have a clear understanding of the employee’s current skills and competencies. This often involves conducting a comprehensive skills assessment. Use tools such as self-assessments, peer reviews, manager feedback, and performance appraisals to gather this information. You can also employ the use of external tools like the DiSC leadership assessment

By understanding their strengths and weaknesses, you can tailor their employee career development plan to address their specific needs.

3. Define Development Activities 

Once you’ve established the employee’s goals and assessed their current skills, it’s time to determine the activities and resources required for their development and upskilling. This may include:

  • Training programs and courses
  • On-the-job learning experiences
  • Mentoring and coaching
  • Workshops and seminars
  • Online resources
  • Professional certifications

Each development activity should be selected based on its relevance to the employee’s goals and areas for improvement. You can tailor each selected activity and resource to those goals and skills as you build them into their unique employee development plan.

4. Set a Timeline

It’s important to create a timeline that outlines the expected duration for each development activity. This timeline should also include milestones and deadlines for achieving the specific goals you identified earlier. A well-structured timeline ensures that the employee development plan remains on track and allows both the employee and their manager to monitor progress effectively.

5. Allocate Resources

To successfully implement the employee career development plan, make sure you allocate the necessary resources. This may include budget, time, and personnel for selected development activities like training and mentoring. 

Some organizations go the extra mile to facilitate professional development through more diverse avenues. This may encompass paying for courses, providing reimbursement programs, or footing the bill for travel and conference fees. These provisions empower employees to refine essential business skills and expand their professional networks. 

The important thing is to ensure that the employee has access to all of the resources they might need to meet their career development goals. 

6. Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

To measure the success of the employee development plan, it’s helpful to establish key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). 

For instance, you can transform vague objectives into more precise KPIs, such as increasing monthly sales by 15 percent or completing five professional development courses within the next year. Quantify the KPIs wherever possible, as numbers will provide clarity and facilitate easier progress tracking. 

Then you’ll want to regularly review and assess the employee’s performance against these KPIs to track their development. Be clear about the frequency of this assessment, whether it will be monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually, and ensure that the employee comprehends how the KPIs will be measured. 

Moreover, KPIs should be realistic and adaptable, with open communication and transparency throughout the process. Link these performance indicators to both the employee’s overarching career development plan and the organization’s broader goals, reinforcing the significance of individual growth within the company’s context.

7. Monitor and Adjust

An employee development plan is not static. It should be dynamic, with room for adjustments as the employee progresses or as the organization’s needs evolve. Regularly meet with the employee to discuss their progress and adapt the plan as needed. This ensures that their employee career development plan remains relevant and effective.

You can choose to meet on a quarterly basis, for example, providing a regular checkpoint for progress while affording employees ample time to make substantial strides toward their development goals. Alternatively, some organizations opt for bi-annual meetings, allowing for a balance between consistent communication and deeper skill development. In cases where employee development plans are more long-term or where job roles experience less frequent changes, annual meetings may suffice, in alignment with traditional performance appraisals. 

On-demand meetings are another option, giving employees the freedom to request meetings whenever they feel the need for a check-in. In dynamic roles or fast-paced industries, a continuous feedback approach may be more effective than formal meetings, fostering ongoing discussions about progress and necessary adjustments. 

Ultimately, the choice of meeting frequency should be collaborative, with both the employee and their manager deciding the most suitable schedule to ensure the plan remains pertinent and effective.

8. Provide Feedback and Support

Throughout the employee’s career development journey, make sure you are offering constructive feedback and support to the employee. Continue to recognize their achievements and address any challenges they encounter. 

The goal is to ensure both employer and employee satisfaction with the progress achieved throughout the whole process. So maintaining open lines of communication between the employee and their manager will be essential for a successful employee development plan.

9. Review and Celebrate Success

At the end of the employee development plan’s timeline, conduct a comprehensive review of the employee’s progress. Celebrate their successes and acknowledge the growth and improvement they’ve achieved, whether through verbal recognition, team acknowledgments, or small rewards. Recognizing and celebrating achievements can boost morale, motivation, and a sense of accomplishment. 

This review is also an excellent opportunity to discuss the next steps in the employee’s career journey and explore further career development opportunities, setting the stage for continued growth and success.

Overall, remember these two rules: 

  • Foster a culture of continuous learning and development in your organization. Encourage employees to take ownership of their growth and offer opportunities for skill-building and advancement.
  • Avoid creating overly ambitious or unattainable goals in the employee development plan. Unrealistic objectives can lead to frustration and decreased motivation. Set challenging but achievable milestones to maintain employee engagement.

It’s essential to remember that employee development plans are not one-size-fits-all. Tailor each plan to the individual’s needs and aspirations. Engage in open and collaborative discussions with the employee to identify their preferences and learning styles. Some employees thrive in a structured classroom environment, while others prefer hands-on experiences. A personalized approach increases the likelihood of success and shows your commitment to their growth.

Employee Development Plan: Key Takeaways

In the fast-paced world of today’s business landscape, fostering employee growth and development is not merely a luxury, but a necessity. By offering tailored employee development plans and continuous support, companies can unlock their employees’ full potential to not only achieve individual success, but also contribute to the broader growth and profitability of the organization. 

So as you are creating your organizations’ employee development plan template, remember these key takeaways:

Purposeful Planning: Employee development plans are purposeful tools that align an individual’s career goals with the organization’s objectives. They provide a roadmap for growth and skill enhancement.

Tailored for Success: Personalization is key. Customize each development plan to the employee’s needs, learning style, and career aspirations, ensuring a higher likelihood of success.

Business Value: Investing in employee development pays off. Studies show that companies that prioritize development experience higher profits, making these plans a strategic investment.

Ongoing Support: Regular feedback, support, and adjustments are crucial to the success of any employee development plan. Engage in open communication with employees and celebrate their achievements along the way.

We offer a robust Career Development program that can take you a step further to help you develop, upskill, and grow your high potential employees at all levels. Click below to speak with an expert and see if Careerminds is the right employee development partner for you and your organization.

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Cynthia Orduña

Cynthia Orduña

Cynthia Orduña is a Career and Business Coach with a background in recruiting, human resources, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. She has helped 50+ companies around the world hire and retain talent in cities like LA, SF, NY, Berlin, Tokyo, Sydney, and London. She has also coached over 300 people, from entry to senior levels, in developing their one-of-a-kind career paths, Her work has been featured in publications such as Business Insider, The Balance Careers, The Zoe Report, and more. To learn more you can connect with Cynthia on LinkedIn.

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