Employee Engagement HR Strategy

Your 6-step guide to creating an employee development plan

employee development plan

Do you have an employee development plan ready to take your company into the bright new decade that dawns in 2020?

If not, it’s time to get with the programme, because if your enterprise wants to remain relevant while the world hurtles ahead, one thing is for sure - you’re going to need your A-team around to do so.

And you know what keeps the A-team around?

Development opportunities that allow them to create a career of their dreams. 

Naturally, no article on recruiting, onboarding and training would be complete without that epic Richard Branson quote, so here you go: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.” There’s a reason why certain bits of wisdom go over-quoted, it’s because it’s so amazingly true

In South Africa especially, the culture of employee learning is immensely important. Our youth is hungry to excel, and companies that make a point of focussing on the professional development of their employees have a great advantage when it comes to attracting top talent. Is your current training program up to snuff? Or do you perhaps still need to get on top of employee development?

Whatever the case may be, here are 6 tried and tested steps that will help you to tick all those must-have boxes: 


1. Take a look at your business goals

Developing a whole new host of employee skills is all good and well, but the only way an employee development plan will result in real, tangible business results is when it's aligned with the goals of your enterprise. It's simple to fall into the trap of making profitability your main (or only) focus, when there are other important factors to consider in the workplace in 2020 and beyond. When you shift the focus from obvious goals like optimal productivity, to helping your employees improve their work-life balance or reach development goals, productivity becomes a natural by-productive of what you're trying to achieve. Try to find the humanity at the core of your vision and mission. 

READ MORE: How to build a winning company culture that drives success


2. Rope in the players

It should kind of go without saying, but a career development plan will only be successful if your employees buy into it. Find out what your employees' needs are and how they foresee becoming stronger, more capable individuals. There will be those who know exactly what they need to excel, while others may need you to help them flesh out the road map to success. Either way, check in with your workforce and learn more about what they want. It's the only way to tailor a plan that will work. 


3. Consider each employee as an individual

Once you know where each employee wants to be headed, it's time to find a way to help them reach their goals in alignment with your business needs. Naturally, it won't work to have 5 people gunning for CEO, or an accountant doing a complete 180 to go into communications, so you'll need to boil down their aspirations to the core of the dream, and find a way to spread their wings while also contributing to the good of the overall enterprise. 


4. Figure out who's ready for what

Some of your employees may be ready to be groomed for advancement to a more senior level, while others may still need to work on soft skills like problem-solving or empathetic communication before they shoot higher. Your employee development plan will always have the best ROI when you guide each person individually. 

READ MORE: 5 ways to identify a disengaged employee and what you can do about it 


5. Put the shiny new skills to use

Once a person has gone through all the trouble of acquiring a new skill, the best way to motivate them to put it to use is to find a way for them to do so ASAP. Create moments for them to shine - this not only gives them props for a job well done, but it also encourages others to do the same. 


6. Measure, measure and measure some more

Measure the effectiveness of your employee development plan continuously. The Kirkpatrick Model of training evaluation, based on reaction, learning, behaviour and results is always a good place to start. However, every business is different, so you may need to finetune your measurement practices to ensure that you cover all the metrics that are important to your company. 

So, just to wrap it all up in a neat little bow, here are the 6 steps you need to follow to create a fool-proof employee development plan: 


  1. Get to grips with your company’s business goals to ensure alignment. 
  2. Check-in with your employees to see what would work best for them. 
  3. Make sure to evaluate each employee and their needs individually. 
  4. Upskill employees in areas for which they are ready. 
  5. Find ways to put new skills to use in the workplace ASAP. 
  6. Measure the outcomes of your employee development plan continuously. 

Following these guidelines will smooth the way for organisational success like you would not believe. What are you waiting for - go make some employee engagement magic!

But wait, before you storm off to go draw up those flawless action plans...

We think you need to take a look out our amazing SaaS-based employee recognition platform. This beauty slots in seamlessly into all sorts of training and development programmes, and we’re so sure it will skyrocket your employee development plans. We're inviting you to try it for FREE too 👇 

employee recognition platform