Employee development plans are pretty much the modern day equivalent of the alternating current. Back in the day, when Nicolas Tesla was working on this efficient and practical method of supplying power, naysayers like Thomas Edison made sweeping statements like “fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.” Jikes. Big fat eeeeek, Mr Lightbulb.
The same happened with the personal computer, of course. Ken Olson, the slightly misguided founder of computer company Digital Equipment Corp famously opened his mouth in 1977 to utter the words, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home”. Yeah, that verbal toothpaste is not going back in the tube there Kenny boy.
Suffice it to say, employee development plans may seem a little out there if you’re viewing it from a super old-school point of view, but from every other angle, the answer to the question ‘do employee development plans really work’ is a resounding YES. However, for these employee skills enhancement platforms to work to everyone’s advantage, there are a few vital steps forward-thinking businesses should take.
Here’s your 5-step breakdown:
1. Keep everything in line with your business goals
Providing employees with the opportunity to build out their skill set is a win-win from every professional development standpoint. However, team leaders should ensure that employee development occurs in line with the goals of the enterprise as a whole. Ask yourself what your business needs at this time. If your company is expanding rapidly, you may need more leaders; if you're implementing new technology, you may need team members to be trained to use it. Align development with these goals to facilitate optimal ROI.
You can read more here 👉Scale your business with a vision, values and company culture
2. Open up those lines of communication
The best development opportunities are tailored according to the requirements of each unique workforce. Providing your employees with formal training is all good and well, but you will only be able to pick the fruits of your labour if they are into it as well. The best way to figure out what your workers want is to ask them. Have face-to-face discussions regarding their career goals and discuss the challenges they face in their current roles. Bridge these gaps by creating suitable skills development opportunities.
You can read more here 👉10 Ways great leaders empower employees and boost productivity
3. Zone in on specific skills
A proper career development plan focuses on specifics. For instance, instead of using vague language like ‘Person A wants to become a better leader’, you should be stating ‘Person A would like to complete a course in workplace mediation so they can better manage their multifaceted team’. This type of approach ensures that the plan makes its way from the boardroom whiteboard into real life.
4. Draw up a game plan
Now that you know what the goals of your employee development plan are, it’s time to get down to brass tacks - how are you going to make it happen? Will your employees require formal training from an expert, or would they prefer self-study via an e-learning course? Or do you need to action peer-to-peer mentoring within your business itself? Figure out the how of it all, and then move on to the when. Employees may need to take time from work to complete their training, so factor this in as well. Draw up a timeline and stick to it for optimal results.
5. Get to work!
Employees improve fastest when new skills are put to use immediately. Once someone’s training is complete, create opportunities for them to apply it in the workplace and be sure to provide feedback. Recognise and reward their efforts where suitable, and offer constructive recalibration advice if required.
So there you have it - if you want your employee development plans to hit all the high notes and propel your workforce to ever greater heights, you need to consider your business goals, bring your employees into the loop, zone in on specific skills, draw up a workable implementation plan and then make a point of putting those shiny new skills to work ASAP.
In the meantime, if you would like a tangible step to reach your company's development goals, boost training and development and bolster the effectiveness of your human resources department, we highly recommend that you take a look at our eBook that take you through the 10 steps to building your very own recognition program. Simply click the button below to get started 👇