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How to Design a Personal Development Plan

By Jake Nordquist   |    March 7, 2018   |    10:37 AM

Creating Effective Personal Development Plans For Employees

If you want to foster job satisfaction and fulfillment within your employees, while also helping them grow in their careers, you need to provide feedback that goes deeper than a standard performance review. The best way to deliver this type of feedback is through a personal development plan.

When you create personal development plans for managers and their staff, you provide employees with a clear roadmap for advancing their careers while expanding their skills (which will only benefit your business.)

However, in order to be effective, personal development plans for employees must be created strategically. If you’re ready to provide your employees with feedback that helps them grow, here’s how to do it right.

First, determine your business goals

The best personal development plans align business goals with employee development. How will your business grow and change over the next year? Are there any departments or projects that will need competent leaders?

Once you know what your business needs, you can determine how to help your employees rise to meet those new challenges.

Make a commitment to employee development

Now that you have your business goals outlined, it’s time to think about how your employees can help achieve them. Consider the skill sets of your current team and identify any gaps in knowledge, then map out the exact process employees can take to acquire the expertise that’s needed.

Focusing on internal talent development will save you time and money in the long run, and offering professional development opportunities is one great way to reduce employee turnover.

With your plan outline in place, talk to your employees

This step is critical — have conversations with your employees about their skills and goals. You might find that an employee’s interests align perfectly with your business goals. You could also discover that they have completely different goals in mind. While you’re having these talks, you should also invite them to share their biggest challenges and ask them to assess their work.

Many employees won’t realize that you appreciate their work and that you’d like to help them grow alongside the business, and you’ll also learn more about your team in the process. It’s a win-win for everyone.

After your talk, give each team member some “homework” by asking them to send you a list of professional development opportunities they’d like to pursue.

Write out personal development plans for each employee

You’ve thought about business goals, identified specific learning opportunities, and talked to team members. Now, it’s time to write it all down. Managers can also help write these plans, so be sure to tap into their expertise as needed.

Providing your employees with a concrete action plan that they can refer to will guide their journey and hold everyone accountable, so don’t skip this step. Each personal development plan should include:

  • A brief outline of the business’s goals for the next year.
  • An assessment of current skills and job performance.
  • The skills each employee would like to learn or develop further.
  • The specific learning opportunities that the employee will explore (and who will fund these opportunities.) This can include professional conferences, leadership trainings, online or in-person courses, certifications, books to read, and more.
  • Criteria for assessment. Will you check in with the employee in 3 months to see how they’re developing? What metrics will be used to determine success?

Once your plans have been delivered and employees are on the path to success, don’t forget to create opportunities for them to use their new skills — that’s where you’ll see how valuable employee development can be.

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