7 Steps to an Effective Employee Development Plan in 2021

Debbie
October 7, 2021
7 Min Read
Photo by
Vard Israyelyan for Renderforest

Table of Contents:

An employee development plan, also called an employee growth plan, is a formal plan for career growth. it outlines both the specific goals that need to be met, along with the steps that will allow you and your employees to get there together. Creating this document shows how much of a priority you place on their development and helps them figure out what they would like to achieve in their position.

Benefits of an employee development plan

There are several reasons why you want to create this essential document for your employees, including:

  • Better productivity: When workers feel bored or that they are not of any value to a business, studies show their work performance suffers. However, when businesses increase employee satisfaction with their current role and job and show there is room for career development through learning a new skill, employees spend more time with a company, which translates to better productivity.
  • Better job satisfaction: When you allow employees to see the big picture for their career and where they are headed, they gain a sense of pride in what they do. This tendency is especially true if there is an opportunity to advance their career path within the organization.
  • Better business planning: Creating a pipeline of existing talent within your organization makes it easier to structure an individual development plan for succession planning and total organizational growth. This can be especially critical if you are expanding in the future or hiring personnel with specialized skills that might not exist within your business’s current structure.
  • Better employee retention: Employees are often on the fence about whether they want to stay with a company or not. This changes when they realize their employer is committed to helping them develop and achieve their personal career goals.
  • Better cost savings: Businesses can save money by not having to replace existing employees with new hires with larger skill sets that cost more.

7 steps of an employee development plan

As you can tell by the benefits, when a strong employee development plan (EDP) is put in place, it helps workers be happier and stay longer within your company. However, when done poorly, it could make employees feel like they are not advancing in their careers or that the company is uninterested in them. That's why it’s crucial to develop this career development plan with all of your employees and then continually work on making sure you meet these goals.

What follows are seven helpful steps for creating an effective and robust EDP:

1. Analyze your training needs

Start by look at the training needs of each individual, which includes analyzing their current level of knowledge and skills. This analysis will help you better understand what they are looking for in terms of career advancement and where there might be areas that need improvement.

Doing this analysis before wholeheartedly jumping into the steps of the employee development plan will ensure that you are meeting your employee’s needs of where they are at professionally. For example, by looking closely at employee training needs, you can determine your employees' interests and which one needs training first.

Moreover, by taking a close look at training needs, you also ensure that your business’s goals are put at the forefront of all the next steps. Later, when you identify what you’re doing well vs. what needs tweaking or has gaps, you can streamline all training initiatives for the best results and benefits.

2. Select trainees with potential

The second step of an EDP is to determine and select which employees are most likely to benefit from the training you will be offering. By identifying potential areas for professional development, your business can make sure it's investing in people who have what it takes (skills and abilities) for success within their role or future roles. These individuals should already exhibit some signs of potential to qualify for career development, such as:

  • Being a self-starter who enjoys challenges
  • Having an excellent attendance record and punctuality
  • Staying on top of industry news and trends

In addition to them displaying the characteristics for high performance, you should be able to identify employees with high potential through your organization's hiring processes and employee referrals within the organization. Then, once they are prepared, focus your efforts on building on their current skills and investing in management training.

After you've determined who has potential for advancement, their next steps will be to receive training and support from your organization. This step should happen before they take on the role of a supervisor or manager. To succeed, they should also have opportunities within their current positions that allow them to work towards higher-level goals with additional responsibility.

3. Ensure everyone’s goals are aligned

In step three, have talks with employees to gauge their satisfaction with their job. This action is also an excellent way to determine what training they need, what they hope to achieve, and how they would like to receive the lessons/ instructions.

Also, importantly, workers need to get involved and buy into an EDP to succeed. So, in this third step, you should also ensure that all training efforts are connected directly back to your business goals. This precaution will help with both motivating employees and providing results, as it's vital for workers to understand how their development plan ties into the company’s overall vision and values.

This result can be accomplished by:

  • Assigning the same training goals to everyone in the organization (so that all employees can contribute to reaching company goals)
  • Creating a business plan and goal-oriented development programs for each employee. These tools will help them understand how their role contributes to overall success within your company, which helps motivate employees to take on new challenges.
  • Holding training sessions or courses related directly back to company goals. Employees are more likely to feel motivated and engaged in their training when they know what's expected of them. As a result of investing the time it takes to complete that training, they will be more committed.
  • Designing a company-wide outline of what is expected from each role and level within your organization.

4. Consider future growth

The fourth step of an EDP is to consider future growth. For starters, determine what paths your employees want to take in the short and long term and provide them with opportunities within their current roles that allow for this kind of advancement.

Next, you don’t want to outgrow your employee development plan. Therefore, it shouldn’t just consider opportunities and changes that are happening right now. Instead, it should also factor in how the organization and industry you are in is expected to expand in the next 5, 10, or even 20 years.

You can ask yourself things like: Is your company expected to experience massive growth? If so, do you have a plan in place that will train leaders to elevate your company? If not, take measures now that will make these areas of employee development a reality.

5. Don’t reinvent the wheel

It's a given that the first time you draft an employee development plan, it is going to be a little more time-consuming than doing it in the future.

So, before you do this for the first time, take some time to research thoroughly and benchmark what other companies are already doing when they come up with their own EDPs so that you can use them as reference points or benchmarks for your own company.

Then, design an employee development plan template to use every time you need to create a development plan. This proactive approach will make creating an EDP much less stressful or overwhelming for your company, which is essential because employee training and retention are crucial components in business success today.

Lastly, each year revisit this template to check if there's anything new going on within your organization that will require you to update your employee development plan.

6. Match the training closely to the task

The next step in an employee development plan is to match the employee training to the task in a relevant way, which means you should consider various delivery methods for your personnel's different goals when creating their career development plans.

For instance, managerial training for a factory supervisor that focuses on job shadowing, mentorship, coaching, and cross-training will likely be a better fit for a leader than on-the-job training (OJT) that shows them how to assemble something.

Also, there is a vast skills gap emerging, so anything related to employee development is critical to your business right now. One solution to bridging that gap for your personnel is to "upskill," which is merely a development program that uses varying tools to expand your worker's current knowledge and skills, thereby allowing them to be proficient in hard and soft skills.

Some skills-based learning to think about for professional development includes OJT, augmented reality and micro-learning.

7. Monitor the employee development plan

Finally, the last step in an employee development plan is to monitor and follow up on results. This step includes not only evaluating whether or not your company's efforts are working for you but also taking action if they're not. Questions to ask yourself during monitoring include:

  • Do employees need more training?
  • Are there better ways to deliver training than was initially planned?
  • Does the company need to switch up its training style?

Also, don't forget about evaluating the effectiveness of your own leadership. Do you have a vision for where you want your organization and employees to go that is compelling enough for them to follow?

It’s essential to have regular meetings with workers to gauge how the employee development plan is progressing and get feedback on what employees would like to see changed or remain the same. During the sessions, identify ways to make employee training time more manageable, effective, and accessible. 

Furthermore, take the time to digest what was a success in this final step of the EDP. Also, it’s critical to make a formal development plan to remedy roadblocks that are causing issues. Once you determine what those obstacles are, look closely at why they may not allow employees to complete their tasks. For instance, there could be too many interruptions or inadequate hours in the workday.

Employee development plan next steps

It is crucial to make sure you have a designated person or team that monitors and reports on the wins of the employee development plan. Sometimes, that can be a challenge, however. For example, suppose you are a small to medium enterprise that doesn’t have the resources to commit a full-time employee to employee development. In that case, human resource managers, who play a huge role in employee development, can often assist, along with the management team. One thing is for sure: When better productivity levels are reported, everyone wins.

We hope you enjoyed learning about how to create an effective employee development plan and the steps to creating and implementing one of your own. If you like this article and want to get more helpful tips for employee development, check out these related articles Matter published below.

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