How to Develop an Effective Employee Development Plan

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employee development plan

As humans we are often motived by our own personal development. If this self-development is aligned with organisational goals, you help to tackle the principle-agent problem and motivate and inspire employees.

On top of this, employee development plans help establish future business needs and succession planning, which, in turn, reduces the cost of recruitment and training external candidates.

What should an effective employee development plan include?

  1. Determine personal and career development goals. This is a crucial step because it encourages the employee to think about their development in a holistic way, which sometimes increases the likelihood of them buying into the employee development plan idea in the first place. The goals could be skills orientated, e.g. excel skills, or growth-oriented, e.g. public speaking, or relationship-oriented, e.g. communication skills. The most effective plans will incorporate goals from all three areas. It is fundamental that employees dont view their employee development plans as separate to their daily working lives.
  2. Establish work development needs. Reflect on the demands of the role to make sure that the employee development plan is in accordance with organisational goals, how the role will evolve and any future positions in the organisation (for succession planning). The business-oriented development needs should be aligned with the personal list.
  3. Develop an action plan. After alignment has been established and development areas identified, the development needs to be mapped out. Remember that 70 percent of learning comes from on-the-job experience, 20 percent from other people and 10 percent from coursework and training.
  4. Adjust the path to development. After the plan has been crafted, the employee needs to implement the changes and the manager needs to clear any obstacles.
  5. Assess how efficient the plan is and update when necessary. Self-adjustment and reflection are key to the success of an employee development plan and, in turn, the employee, manager and organisation.

What is an employee development plan?

They are essentially action plans and documents consistently referred to by the employee and manager to make sure that the employee is fulfilling their personal development objectives and meeting the organisations goals. They are slightly different to personal development plans, as the latter has the predominant purpose of tending to the individuals needs and only being supported by the organisation when necessary. Therefore, personal development plans are usually more focussed on life goals than work goals, whilst employee development plans take a more balanced approach.

Employee Development Plan Template

There are lots of different ways to structure an employee development plan, but there are several key elements that should be included. Consider short-range goals (critical development needs at the time); mid-range goals (for growth within the following two years); and long-range goals (over three years or more). For each of these categories, note down the workshops, seminars or mentoring sessions that the employee should attend and any specific steps the employee should take to achieve the goal. Also, think about what other skills could be enhanced by completing this goal, and the employees future potential in the company.

Read more:

Employee Career Development Plan Examples

Take a look below at two different examples of career development plans for a manger, adapted from Simplicable and High Speed Training respectively. Youll notice how different they are from each other and the template above in terms of their structure and how they are displayed. However, as long as the plan contains all the necessary information and is clear, it doesnt matter too much how it is presented.

Example Number One


Long-term goal: Become a senior manager.
Short-term goals: Improve your communication, time management, overall management of team and accounting skills.

Goal: Improve communication skills.
Objective: Manage expectations and communicate value for the billing system project.
Resources: N/A
Measurement: Stakeholder feedback for billing system project.
Target date:

Goal: Build coaching skills.
Objective: Coach team members that are performing particularly well so they can move to the next level of their career.
Resources: N/A
Measurement: Feedback from reports, any improvements in staff performance and any promotions in staff due to your coaching.
Target date:

Goal: Improve time management skills.
Objective: Alter the weekly team meetings format to save time without loosing any of its value.
Resources: N/A
Measurement: Time of meeting decreased, feedback from staff.
Target date:

Goal: Measure processes to drive improvement.
Objective: Measure order-to-bill process and correlate to other variables like data quality metrics, which should improve the overall processes.
Resources: Sales and billing system data, feedback from sales and operations teams.
Measurement: Improvement in average throughput of process.
Target date:

Example Number Two

Consider Example Number Two, which shows the employee career development plan for an individual who wans to become an area manager. The three goals have been numbered 1-3 and referred to throughout for organisational purposes.

What are the long-term goals?
The promotion to an area manager position.

What are your specific career goals? (Divide these into individual, more manageable steps)

  1. Become a team supervisor
  2. Become a team manager
  3. Become an area manager

What are the key skills needed for each of the goals?

  1. Leadership skills, communication skills
  2. Leadership skills, project management skills, presentation skills, management skills
  3. Management skills, strategic thinking skills, networking skills, decision making skills and self-management skills

What actions are you going to take? E.g. What training opportunities can you make the most of?

  1. Online CPD leadership training course and a company leadership course
  2. Online CPD project management training course, ask line manager what high levels of responsibility you can take on at work and volunteer to lead meetings so you can develop presentation skills
  3. Online CPD strategic-thinking course and volunteer with line manager to networking sessions

When are you going to complete your training by? (Be realistic)

  1. 6 months
  2. 12 months
  3. 24 months
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