Many large organizations use February as a month to identify business objectives to complete during the year and require their employees to complete similar plans for their personal and professional development. This goal and development planning process is a great exercise to complete, whether you have five employees or five thousand employees. Depending on the industry, the planning process can have several names such as Performance Development Planning, Partners in Performance and Professional Development Planning. Regardless of the name used, what these plans do have in common is they represent an agreement between the employee and management on actionable objectives that when completed can lead to success both for the employee and the organization.

Here are some tips from HR Professionals on how to create a Professional Development Plan with your employees to support your business goals while allowing them to maximize their personal potential:

  • Management Assessment: The development plan should include a section that assesses the employee’s level of proficiency on the skills identified by management as key to their business success. The employee’s supervisor can provide ratings that evaluate at what level the employee is performing based on those skills. Examples of skill levels are Fundamental (basic), Learning/Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert.
  • Employee Self-Assessment: The employee should also be encouraged to provide their own assessment of their level of proficiency based on the company’s target skills. They should also be encouraged to evaluate how their interests, skills, values and personality makes them suited for certain roles within the organization.
  • Provide Guidelines: In order to be effective, an employee’s development plan should be created with your business’ long and short-term goals and company values as the framework to aspire to achieve success. Are you safety conscious? What expectations can you set for the employee to strive to achieve (ex. 0 OSHA Recordables, no vehicle accidents, etc.)? Are you customer focused? What values do you want your employees to practice while working with your clients (treating people with respect, one visit/one call resolutions to problems, follow-though, etc.)?
  • Seek Opportunities: The employee and management can work together to identify development opportunities that can be made available to the employee to achieve the year’s set goals based on their skill levels:
    • Cross-Training: Are there business processes that the employee is not well-versed in or can be beneficial for the employee to learn? Cross-training helps employees become well-rounded and provides the business with additional support for workload when needed.
    • New projects and responsibilities: Is there a project where the employee can be given the opportunity to prove themselves? Does the employee have a project they would like to try to implement? Successful completion of the project can increase the employee’s confidence and allow management to see how they work.
    • Education: Allowing the employee to enroll in a program, whether for a degree or certification, can help improve their skills. Many of the top universities now offer online programs for working professionals.
    • Workshops and Seminars: Many industries offer seminars, workshops and conferences that allow participants to learn best practices and new technologies while interacting with other professionals in their field. These events tend to be valuable learning and networking opportunities for attendees.
    • Mentorship: Based on the employee’s goals and skillset, consider pairing them with a mentor who that can help them improve their skills.
  • Review: Regular reviews should be planned to track the employee’s progress in meeting their set goals. Depending on the goal type or employee and management workload, the reviews can be scheduled monthly, quarterly or bi-annually.

As a reminder, the employee development plan should be a partnership between the supervisor and the employee. If you simply present the employee with objectives that they do not feel vested in or excited about, the chances are slim to none that the employee will put forth the effort needed to complete them. Creating a professional development plan with employees allows them to focus on goals and values that are important to your business while also nurturing their personal needs for growth, opportunities and experience. This process can provide you with knowledgeable, well-rounded employees who are satisfied with their jobs and reduce the likelihood that the employee will seek employment elsewhere.