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Where To Start When Creating an Employee Development Plan

Now that we’ve discussed what employee development is and why it’s important, it’s time to make a plan! Ensure that both you and the employee get the most positive experience possible by collaborating, setting clear goals, and accountability checkpoints.

Let’s Get Down To Business

First thing’s first; start with you and your business. What are the goals of the business? What are its obstacles? What skills does it need more of? Which areas do you want to expand? By asking (and answering) questions like these, you’ll have a clearer picture of how your employees can learn and grow in the company. Prepare some suggestions of classes, certifications, or mentorships that might appeal to both the employee’s and your business’ goals.


Schedule a time to meet with the employee for about an hour to discuss their development plan. If their annual review is coming up, use the opportunity for reflection, praise, and identifying opportunities to grow. Ask them about their goals, aspirations, passions, skills, and talents. And listen. Let them drive the conversation from there. Every person is different, and this time is crucial in determining the best course of action to ensure their job satisfaction and the health of the business. There’s no bigger turn-off than being forced into a mandatory program on a subject you have no passion for. It’s important that this development plan is fun and engaging.


Once the two of you have decided on a set of goals, it’s time to break each one down into steps. These goals and steps should be as far from abstract as possible. A great way to set concrete goals is to use the SMART method. SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

By making sure one’s goals meet this criteria, it’s much easier to break each task down into manageable chunks. Together with the employee, write down the actions needed and the realistic dates they should be completed by. Providing a due date is a great way to instill a sense of urgency and keeps both of you accountable for maintaining this plan. There are many wonderful templates available online you can use to create this action plan, like these ones on Indeed.

Be A Team Player

It’s important to remember that this is entirely about investing in your employees to create a happier, more positive, and stronger business. Lead by example and have your own personal development plan in place with someone to hold you accountable. Make sure you’re checking in with your employees regularly to see how they’re doing and if they’re running into any roadblocks. Mark the due dates from their development plans on your calendar and follow up with them. Knowing that you care and are willing to put the work in will make them want to put the work in too.


By Aubrey Dion

Aubrey Dion is proud to be back working for the family business she grew up in. Over the years, she has performed a wide variety of jobs in both the office and factory, becoming a true "jack of all trades." Aubrey credits her quick learning ability to her strong theatre background, where memorization and attention to detail are vital. Working in the marketing department allows her to stay creative and work on exciting new projects for the company.


Indeed - Individual Development Plan Examples: Templates To Use

CO- - 5 Steps for Creating an Employee Development Plan

Insperity - How To Create SMART Career Development Plans for Your Employees