You just hired a promising young talent that has all the skills and savvy knowledge to help your business finally get an edge on the competition. As far as you’re concerned, a steady increase in responsibility and salary incentives will keep this hotshot rolling in the results you want.
However, without an employee development plan in place, your hotshot talent may look outside the company to develop their skills and further their career.
And can you blame them? Few people, if any, and especially not top talent, want to feel or be stuck in a dead end job.
The solution? Prioritize including an employee development plan in your training and talent retention strategy.
What is an Employee Development Plan?
An employee development plan lays out a clear path for the employee to learn, grow, and advance in a company that is understood by both the employee and manager.
Employee development plans help both employees and employers get the most of their working relationship and reduce ambiguity in expectations from each other.
Why are Employee Development Plans Important?
An employee development plan helps retain top talent by incentivizing employees to stay in the organization in return for skill and career development.
A study published by the Harvard Business Review surveyed over 1,200 high achievers to find out why some of the best employees only stay an average of 28 months in a company. Turns out, there is a huge gap between what employees want from their managers and what they are getting when it comes to their career development.
Most are satisfied with the on-the-job training they receive, however, what they want more of is the formal development that is harder to measure – things like mentoring and coaching.
Taking genuine interest in your employees’ future also has payback for you as a manager:
- You’re seen as a mentor, which means less “policing” and delegating tasks and more collaboration
- Employees who feel that their managers care about them personally are more likely to volunteer their support for a project or the goals that you’ve set
- It builds loyalty, which also increases intrinsic motivation, so the bonus incentives become secondary to the psychological benefits and overall commitment to work
Sounds convincing, yet many managers still don’t take the time to work with employees one-on-one to help them develop meaningful careers.
Too busy, a lack of training material, no clear immediate pay-off, bigger problems to solve… Excuses! Excuses!
The fact is, if you don’t invest in employee development, you will lose the best talent.
The good news is, highly ambitious employees want training, they want to grow and improve. Here are a few templates to get you started.
Employee Development Plan Examples
#1 – Performance-Based Plan
This is the simplest and oldest plan out there and it’s pretty straightforward. Develop employee skills based on annual performance appraisals of groups and individuals, and using basic analysis of the outcomes versus goals and standards to work out what needs to be addressed over the next period to raise the performance to desired levels.
Although this plan is a staple for most companies, it may be time to re-evaluate its merit. I recommend considering the feedforward interview to understand why performance-based plans may cause more frustration than value for employees. A basic overview of outcomes versus goals is always necessary, just make sure you don’t get too caught up in the numbers and forget the real focus of employee development – the employee!
#2 – Management by Objectives
Similar to the Performance-Based plan, this one works more closely with shorter set goals and measures how well a group or an individual meets those objectives every cycle. After a clear evaluation of strengths and weaknesses, a clear path for training and change is implemented to ensure better performance in the next cycle. This plan is more rigid and might be better reserved for group projects with clear deadlines and objectives.
#3 – Succession Planning
This one only works in tenure-based scenarios, and it involves the use of five-year plans to induct replacements or those who would inherit responsibilities and skills needs when tenures are up or promotions are scheduled. It’s basically the previous plan, but based around more extended, long-term goals and the predictability of tenure scenarios.
#4 – Ad-Hoc Improvement
This one’s not as well-known, and it doesn’t work for groups, however, it is exactly the kind of training method that highly successful employees want the most: mentoring, coaching and training based on individual needs.
For this kind of employee development plan it is not only important what kind of training is offered, but when it is offered. It is best to be responsive to employees’ expressed desire for specific training, otherwise, they may become resentful if it is put off too long, making them feel devalued as an employee and in turn, less invested in the company.
Finally, remember that these are just guidelines – each employee is unique and the real benefits will only happen if you take the time to tailor a development plan to each individual employee.