Employees discussing development plans

How To Create A Development Plan For Employees

#Blog#Leadership#Learning Strategy#Organisational Learning#Professional Development#Virtual Classroom

The ability to foster growth, embrace change, and cultivate talent stands as a defining trait of successful organisations today. At the heart of these efforts? Employee development. 

Outlining the pathway for the professional growth and skill enhancement of your employees not only shows an investment in an individual’s future but also aligns their aspirations with the overarching goals of the company. 

In an era where employee retention and acquisition are paramount, good employee development plans are key differentiators. They can help attract ambitious professionals while encouraging existing talent to deepen their commitment to your organisation. 

But sometimes it can be hard to know how to create a development plan for employees when there’s so much information out there. 

Why are employee development plans so important?

Employee development plans are the secret sauce to merging individual drive with corporate ambitions. They’re not just pathways to learning; they’re a testament to your organisation’s commitment to your team’s future and a magnet for talent that craves growth and opportunity. 

These strategic blueprints not only boost morale and loyalty, but also position your company as a leader in a competitive arena, adept at both attracting bright minds and keeping them. 

In essence, these plans are the linchpin for building a resilient, innovative, and dedicated workforce ready to tackle tomorrow’s challenges. Creating an employee development plan that is effective and innovative is essential. 

Read more about why employee development is so important. 

Step 1: Identify employee needs and business goals

A successful employee development plan hinges on the perfect balance of individual career development goals and the broader objectives of the business. It’s key to fostering an environment where your employees feel valued and motivated, and your company benefits from better performance and the achievement of strategic goals. 

Foster open communication

Growth starts with honest conversations. Encourage managers to dive deep into discussions about career ambitions and skills with their teams. It’s about understanding where an employee wants to go and mapping it with the company’s trajectory. 

Leverage feedback

Use feedback tools and surveys to get a pulse on what your team desires and needs for their development. This direct insight helps shape a development plan that resonates with both the employee’s ambitions and the company’s goals. 

Identify skills and gaps

Through evaluations, assessments, and skills gap analysis, pinpoint current skills and uncover areas for improvement. This clarity allows for crafting personalised development plans that strengthen your team’s capabilities in alignment with business objectives. 

Align goals

If the business is looking to expand, develop skills in the team that support this vision, such as market analysis or language proficiency – individual growth into collective success! 


Step 2: Set clear and achievable objectives

Central to any employee development plan is the establishment of SMART goals – objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This framework ensures that each goal is clear, trackable, realistic, aligned with broader business objectives, and has a defined timeline. 

Examples of SMART goals in action

  • Specific: Instead of ‘improve customer service skills’, aim for ‘attend a customer service workshop by Q2 to enhance conflict resolution techniques.’ 
  • Measurable: Instead of ‘increase sales’, instead say ‘achieve a 10% sales increase in the next six months by expanding the customer base and upselling to existing clients.’
  • Achievable: Rather than an overly ambitions ‘become a market leader’, set a goal to ‘increase market share by 5% in 12 months by launching two new product lines.’ 
  • Relevant: Convert ‘learn a new software’ into ‘master the latest version of our project management software by completing an advanced course in the next 3 months.’ 
  • Time-bound: Shift from ‘gain leadership skills’ to ‘complete a leadership development program by the end of the year to prepare for one of the upcoming vacant management roles.’ 

Step 3: Design the development activities

Skill development

  • Identify needs: Every employee will be different. Start with a skills gap analysis to pinpoint specific areas for improvement or new skills to acquire that align with both current roles and future opportunities. 
  • Choose the right programs: Select targeted employee training and development programs, workshops, and courses that directly address these needs. Prioritise offerings that give practical, real-world applications and hands-on learning opportunities. 

Mentorship and coaching

  • Pair wisely: Match your employees with mentors who not only possess the expertise and experience they aspire to gain, but also exhibit the soft skills and leadership qualities they can learn from. 
  • Structured, yet flexible: Create a mentorship structure that outlines expectations and goals but allows for flexibility in how these relationships evolve to best suit mentors and mentees. 

Stretch assignments and projects

  • Challenge comfort zones: Assign some projects that require employees to stretch beyond their current skill set, promoting growth through real-world application and problem-solving. 
  • Support and monitor: While challenging, make sure these assignments come with the necessary support to succeed. This includes access to resources, periodic check-ins, and constructive feedback. 

Step 4: Implement the employee development plan

Clear communication is key. Begin by clearly outlining the development plan to each employee and ensure they understand their short-term and long-term goals, the timeline, and the resources available to them. This transparency fosters a sense of ownership and commitment towards their personal and professional growth. 

It’s also important to set expectations. Clearly define what success looks like for each goal within the plan, and how progress will be measured. Establishing these benchmarks early on helps in maintaining focus and motivation. 

Step 5: Follow up and evaluate

Ongoing management and support

  • Regular check-ins: Discuss progress, address challenges, and adjust the plan as necessary.
  • Resource allocation: Ensure your employees have access to the necessary resources to pursue their development goals. This may include time off for learning, financial support for certifications, or access to internal sessions. 
  • Encourage self-directed learning: While the plan provides a structured approach to development, encourage your team to take initiative in their learning journey. This might include exploring additional resources or pursuing interests that align with their career goals.

Feedback and support

  • Establish a continuous loop: Implement a system for regular, constructive feedback that allows your employees to understand their progress, areas for improvement, and successes. 
  • Encourage self-reflection: Promote a culture where employees are encouraged to self-assess and reflect on their learning experiences, challenges faced, and knowledge gained. 
  • Celebrate achievements: If your employee is hitting milestones or achievements, celebrate them! Do this for things big and small to keep employee engagement and motivation

Evaluate and adjust

  • Review outcomes: At set intervals, review the outcomes of the development activities against the set goals.
  • Adapt as needed: Be prepared to adjust the development plans based on feedback, changes in organisational direction, or shifts in employees’ career interests. 

Future-proof your business with killer employee development

Align ambitions, nurture talent, and set your organisation apart with the right employee development strategy. 

Crafting these plans requires insight, precision, and a knack for professional development. That’s where the team at MCI Solutions comes in. With a range of employee training and development programs and a team of instructional designers on deck, creating effective employee development plans has never been easier. 

Explore our learning and development solutions today! 

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March 22, 2024

By Dr. Denise Meyerson

Dr. Denise Meyerson is the founder of MCI and has 30 years' experience in vocational education. In that time, she has developed deep expertise in the design and delivery of a range of qualification programs to major corporates and to job seekers via in-person learning methodologies as well as innovative digital learning experiences.