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Employee Development Plans

If you or have used them, how do you create them. Are they template based or more individually created. Once you created the plan, how do you use it with your employee? What are some of the common pitfalls and potential benefits? Any real world (redacted, of course) experiences you can share?


Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

We created a Growth Plan to be used by an employee you feel just needs more direction and an Action Plan for an employee who has had a lot of direction has the skill to get the job done, but lacks the will to do so. These plans detail specific areas that need work / improvements (e.g. more training, more one on one, etc).

The way they should work is a meeting with the individual to discuss each item on the plan. Discuss hurdles / issues keeping them from succeeding, gain their understanding and commitment that they will work on whatever areas need change - for it to be effective they have to have a full understanding of what they need to work on and you have to get their commitment to make changes or training or whatever the outcome is. You're investing in them and agreeing to work together to achieve desired results.

Then you must meet with the person weekly and open up the plan and discuss progress, apply praise and/or discuss further areas of opportunity. If you are seeing progress great! Meet again another week - make sure throughout the week to praise when you see them doing the things discussed in the plan and redirect if they seem to backslide of have forgotten something you discussed.

If they are not improving or moving forward the next conversation looks a little different. You redirect back to the commitment they made to make changes and seek to understand what has caused that not to happen. The point is there shouldn't be any surprises - if you are being open and honest with them and working the plan, the outcome will be obvious to both parties involved.

The problem I see in the real world is the leader doesn't stick to the plan, therefore the plan becomes ineffective.

Sarah Jackson
Title: Associate Editor
Company: Proformative
(Associate Editor, Proformative) |

Sounds like a good process, Christie.

Maybe the biggest gain via employee development plans is for the 95% who are not falling short. Employee development improves skills, productivity, employee satisfaction and retention.

With that in mind, Proformative has developed an employee development system for Corporate Finance and Accounting departments. Employers can easily assign courses, track results, offer feedback and more - all at a low/flat monthly cost for all the courses in the growing library:

Best... Sarah

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

My experience has been mostly one-off versus a template. Where I have used them, they are the basis for periodic discussions on status/progress/issues/etc. It is all about communication. My goal is that any resulting action, positive or negative, would not be a surprise to the employee or my manager.

(ChurchAdministrator) |

My experience with development plans is they can be great or they can be absolutely worthless! The difference in outcome is determined by two people, the manager and the employee. I like the approach of documenting where an employee wants to head with their career and then coming back to what that looks like in 5 years and what it looks like in the next year. The first paragraph is therefore more pie in the sky dreams type of things and then the next one is much more specific on where the employee wants to be in 5 years. The final section is very specific SMART goals for the next year. While the specific part of the plan can be used for an employee in trouble, I personally prefer to keep performance issues separated from development goals. I as a manager must commit to doing my utmost to help an employee meet their specifics and to deliver on my part of the deal. For example if the employee is going to need to take a class within the company, I may need to ensure I have the funds to send them. I do however expect that some of the items, maybe even a lot of them are totally dependent on the employee to accomplish.

Finally I like development plans to be living breathing documents so I recommend reviewing them periodically and updating them as needed.

A development plan becomes absolutely worthless if it is done just to complete a company requirement and is then put on a shelf for a year and never acted on. That is a waste of everyone's time.

Michelle Rogers
Title: CEO
Company: Virtually There CFO Services
(CEO, Virtually There CFO Services) |

Agreed! Most view development plans to be put in place when there is a performance issue to be addressed. However, many managers/leaders miss an opportunity to leverage their employees by not putting a program in place which will further develop their skills. Ideally, this is part of an annual discussion regarding career advancement, specific training goals and projects to stretch the employee are defined. As the year progresses, regular check points are held to discuss challenges and celebrate successes. This approach only works if there is a commitment from both supervisor and employee; both need to have a genuine interest in seeing this succeed. And, it is magical when it does.


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