Development plans are a key cog in improving employee-based business practices. Not only that, but they actually function as a retention strategy. Employees like to know where they are going and how they can grow within the company. Without that knowledge, they will grow somewhere else. Here are the components that make up a rock-solid employee development plan.
A common practice in development plans is for the employee to self-assess their abilities first, then the manager to weigh in with their own assessment. Those are important steps, but it’s also significant to enlist the opinions of others with which the employee works or might work for.
That’s right. Managers up the chain of command should also have an opportunity to communicate where they want this employee to be in order for the worker to start working under them (even if that might be theoretical). If the employee deals directly with customers, their assessments should be weighed as well. Those valuations should be more specific than just satisfaction surveys.
Select focused skills and activities
The next step is to take that assessment data and identify the most valuable skills that the employee could acquire to facilitate their growth. This list cannot be too long or too broad. If it’s too long, the employee will be pulled in too many directions at once. Too broad and they won’t know when they’ve achieved results.
The activities in which the employee engages don’t necessarily have to be formal education. Plenty of development plans recommend actions that amount to on-the-job training, such as shadowing and inclusion in the meetings of different departments.
If your company has a global footprint, or plans to grow one, be sure to address global competencies with your employees. Millennials are especially globally-minded. Offering them visibility into opportunities to join global virtual teams, take part in a short-term or long-term assignment abroad, or develop ongoing skills like language and cultural acumen, can be particularly valuable to your retention strategy.
No matter what your company’s direction or workforce demographics , the employee should also have a voice in activity selection. They should be able to communicate their preferred learning styles and what activities fit them.
Finally, the goals of the plan need to specify a particular job or department in which the employee is being groomed—even if they have a lot of work to do before they can be considered. Too many employees leave businesses simply because no defined career path exists for them. Tell the employee where you see them going in the company and how they can get there.
Measure and update
The plan needs to have measurable goals and targets. Ambiguity needs to be eliminated as much as possible. The measuring needs to be an actionable process with someone identified as being responsible for its process (or, even better, multiple stakeholders).
A professional development plan should be a living document. Too many organizations rely on the annual review. Instead, quick “check-ins” should occur routinely using the most recent data from the measurable goals. That lends more agility to the process and might position the employee to take advantage of the ever-changing needs of the organization.
Further reading: To find about how one company used Rosetta Stone as an actionable step for employees to grow within the company, check out this informative case study.