It is often difficult for individuals to succeed at anything without a plan.
At work, employees are often encouraged to participate in a professional development process to facilitate their success.
While development plans can vary widely from business to business, and even from employee to employee, there are elements that seem to show up over and over.
These components combine to create powerful employee development plans that work.
1. Include no more than four SMART goals.
Organizations use different words to define what SMART means, but the general intent is the same. An employee is more likely to achieve a goal that is well defined and achievable.
The acronym SMART is an easy way to ensure the goals are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. With this formula, it’s easy to make goals that are more than just a list of dreams.
However, even the most effective list of goals has to be manageable, so don’t overcrowd a development plan with more than an employee can handle.
A list of four (or less) goals will give your employees focus and direction, and prevent them from becoming overwhelmed or distracted.
2. Ensure that the goals are supported by specific actions.
Even a SMART goal can seem unreachable. Structure and support are essential for improvement and goal achievement. Work with the employee to break down each goal into steps. Encourage them to celebrate their progress along the way.
This process will help them take ownership of the plan and increase the likelihood of success. Make sure to equip them with the tools and resources that will empower them to move forward.
3. Focus on what matters most.
As you help the employee to limit the scope of his or her development plan, it’s important to zero in on those skills that the individual most needs or wants to develop.
Don’t muddle up the development plan by trying to have the employee do a lot of different things at once.
Using a shotgun approach to development might only ensure that the employee doesn’t learn anything at all. By focusing on a limited number of skills or competencies, you can increase the employees chances for success.
That success then becomes a foundation for future development.
4. Provide access to a variety of tools and learning options.
Approach each improvement area by exploring many different options for developing the related skills. Providing a menu of tools or opportunities will help ensure that the plan includes activities and experiences that truly resonate with the individual.
Variety will also help solidify the learning so that whatever you’re trying to teach or develop really sticks with them. A good mix of tasks, readings, informal and formal training, and both independent and collaborative work will give the employee choices as they move forward with their development plan.
It also allows for flexibility. If one tool or approach isn’t working, there are others to choose from.
5. Include progressively challenging opportunities.
An effect development plan should provide the individual with progressively challenging activities and goals. If the development plan does not challenge the employee, no progress will be made.
However, the level of difficulty should be realistic and measured out without scaling up too quickly. If the plan is too difficult, they may get discouraged and give up altogether.
Be prepared and willing to work with the employee to tweak the plan throughout implementation in order to customize it to the individual’s needs and speed of development.
6. Commit to an accountability follow-up process
Encourage the individual to take ownership of his or her work and personal development. Work with them to create and agree upon specific accountability mechanisms within the development plan. Schedule follow up meetings to check progress, provide feedback, and make any necessary adjustments.
Remember, a detailed and well-executed development plan can help improve an employee’s performance and level of engagement, and contribute to the overall success of the business.
If you need more personalized support for helping employees create powerful development plans, consider hiring the experts at CMOE to provide professional coaching that will teach you proven techniques in creating effective development plans. Learn more about the variety of coaching programs we offer on our website.