7 Steps To Create Your Employee Development Plan

7 Steps To Create Your Employee Development Plan

Corey Bleich

🍿 4 min. read

An employee development plan helps your people acquire new skills for their current job while expanding their talents for new roles in your company.

One of the biggest issues facing employers these days is employee retention. With costs to replace employees averaging between six and nine months’ salary and the average employee changing jobs about every four years, now more than ever your company needs to figure out how to offer employees areas for growth and opportunities for advancement. An employee development plan helps your people acquire new skills for their current job while expanding their talents for new roles in your company. When done well, it can help them stay within your company, happier and longer. Here are seven steps to create your employee development plan, from roll-out to reporting.

1. Start with a skills gap analysis

The first step in creating an employee development plan is to figure out where you need to upskill employees . A training needs analysis can help you determine not only what skills are missing (or underdeveloped) but also which employees need training first.

This training needs analysis puts your organizational goals at the center of anything that comes next. By identifying what you’re already doing well (and what needs work), all training efforts can be streamlined for maximum benefit.

2. Identify employees for career and leadership growth

Identify those employees who are eager to learn and looking for growth potential. Focus your initial efforts on those employees, not only building current skills but also investing in leadership and management training when they are ready.

Another bonus? Employees who are on the fence about staying with your company may be more motivated to stay when they realize that you are committed to helping them develop their personal career goals. This helps you retain your most talented employees!

3. Align with employee and company goals

Once you have identified areas of need and employees interested in growth, make sure your goals for both are connected.

An employee development plan can only go so far if the employees aren't involved. Consider not only your employees' career goals in general but also those specific to your company to strengthen career succession plans.

Discussions are the best way to measure employee satisfaction in their job. This also works best to determine what training employees need, what they want to learn, and how they want to receive it.

4. Help them grow with you

An employee development plan shouldn't only look at growing edges within your company that are present right now. It should also consider the ways in which your company and your industry is growing.

Where is your company headed in the next five years?

Ten? Twenty? If you plan on huge growth in the next few years, how many leaders will you need to train? Are you exploring new industries or service offerings? Are there people in place now who might be ready to take your company to that next level?

Take steps today to put those wheels in motion.

5. Use employee development plan templates to help

The good news about employee development plans is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make a good one. Once you’ve decided to move forward, there are a variety of templates that can make your job easier.

There are two main types of employee development plan templates:

  • Consider an individual employee development plan template in the early stages of your organization’s process. This helps employees reflect on their personal career goals and how they might align with your organization.
  • A succession planning template helps your organization look towards the future to figure out where the company needs to hire or expand. It also articulates what resources are already present (and if they need to be developed further).

Use these as a guide to help you customize both your individual employee growth plan and the plan for your company.

6. Fit the learning opportunity to the training

Now that you’ve decided to create a career development plan for employees, make sure the type of employee training fits the task. Consider different methods of delivery for different goals.

For example, leadership training might focus on the following approaches:

  • Mentorships
  • Cross training
  • Job shadowing

In contrast, upskilling uses different tools to expand your employees' current skills and knowledge. For these direct, skills-based learning opportunities, consider:

  • Microlearning
  • On-the-job training
  • Augmented reality

Once you have good data about where your company is headed and which employees are coming with you, use the right training tool for the best results.

7. Track results and use data to inform your decisions

You’ve spent ample time coming up with an employee development plan. How will you know it’s working? Take time to monitor the success of your efforts and make a plan to remedy any trouble spots.

Meet regularly with employees to see how it’s going and to get their feedback on what they would like more (or less) of. Identify what obstacles make it hard to follow through, like not enough hours in the workday or interruptions. Identify ways to make their training time available, easier, and more effective.

As a company, make sure you have a person or team dedicated to monitoring the success of the employee development plan. If you are a small company without the ability to have a full-time employee development person, HR professionals can help, as can managers when they report on productivity levels or team wins.

At EdgePoint Learning, we love to help companies grow. From ground-up training solutions to helping you revamp outdated training courses, we can help. Our learning specialists work with you to create an employee development plan that can drive company goals and employee growth.

Get in touch to get started today !

4 Steps to Crafting Employee Development Plans That Fuel Success

development plan in company

Post-pandemic, the debate on recruitment, retention, and performance seems to be stuck on location. Employers with return-to-office plans are looking to catered meals, commuter benefits, and even raises to draw people in. For the 83% of companies with a largely hybrid or remote workforce, the benefit is baked in—job seekers would take an average pay cut of 14% to work remotely.

What this debate doesn’t answer is how to grow and support people no matter where they work. For that to happen, you need an individualized approach: employee development plans.

If you don’t invest in growing your people, they’ll find an organization that will—two out of three employees who quit their jobs cite inadequate career development as a key reason. ​​On the flip side, supportive work environments (62%) and growth opportunities (59%) are the top two ways employers can win the loyalty of their employees .

Keep reading for advice on how to rev up your people’s potential, and help your whole organization grow too, with effective employee development plans. ​​

Plus, you don’t have to do it all yourself. BambooHR has easy-to-use, customizable tools to help you manage and track goals, ensure frequent performance conversations, and analyze company performance. Learn more about Performance Management in BambooHR .

What Is an Employee Development Plan?

An employee development plan, sometimes called an employee growth plan, is a process for helping individuals improve skills for their current job and acquire knowledge and skills for new roles and responsibilities in an organization.

There are three key elements every individual development plan should include:

  • Organizational needs: What are the demands of the organization? What are its strengths and weaknesses? What skill sets and technology does it need to stay competitive within the industry?
  • Employee competence: What are the strengths of the employee? How can they leverage their skills to bring greater results to the team and organization? How can these results benefit their career and help them grow?
  • Employee passion: What is the employee passionate about? What do they genuinely enjoy doing and find fulfillment in? How can these passions better align with their strengths and the needs of the organization?

Though each employee development plan needs to include those three elements, you can’t take a cookie-cutter approach and use the same employee development plan ideas for everyone in your organization. Each individual has unique strengths and weaknesses that need to be built upon.

Key Benefits of an Employee Development Plan

Investing in a good employee development plan is a win-win situation. Your plan can pay off for both your organization and your employees in a variety of ways:

  • Help attract talented applicants.
  • Increase worker engagement and motivation .
  • Improve employee performance.
  • Increase your firm’s efficiency and profitability.
  • Nurture promotable employees .
  • Improve employee retention and satisfaction .
  • Help your company plan for the future.

These are important benefits to keep in mind and share as you structure your plan and seek support from managers and decision-makers.

4 Examples of Development Goals

Completing leadership training.

An employee has been at the company for a few years and feels ready to develop their leadership skills. After conferring with their direct supervisor to find appropriate opportunities, the employee takes on a bigger share of the mentoring and coaching responsibilities in the team. The employee’s direct supervisor provides guidance and tips on mentoring during this time.

Taking on Increased Duties and Responsibilities

An employee who excels at both verbal and written communication takes on a more challenging project intended to help break down the walls between siloed departments. This project will help the employee advance in their current role while helping the company benefit from enhanced collaboration.

As part of the project, the employee identifies the teams’ pain points and tests out different strategies to help team members collaborate better. This employee may learn and help incorporate new technology, systems, and processes and train team members.

Participating in Professional Organizations and Seminars

An employee who is part of a fairly new department at your organization attends local conferences and workshops to network and learn about new strategies and ideas to drive the new department forward.

This employee is also able to speak with other professionals in their field who offer insights on how to successfully build teams and achieve meaningful results. These events allow the employee to take on a more active role in their organization and industry.

Earning Professional Certifications

An employee with a Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) decides to pursue their Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) after three years of working in your payroll department. The employee’s goal is to win a promotion opportunity, make a bigger contribution to the company, and receive a higher salary.

To actively support this employee’s development, the organization could offer to cover the fees involved in the payroll certification course and exam.

How to Create a Professional Development Plan

Step 1: size up your needs.

Evaluate where your organization currently stands, what your goals, opportunities, and challenges are, and how you need to shape and strengthen your workforce to achieve your objectives.

To help you begin, here are a few questions you might ask yourself about your organization:

  • Do we have knowledge or skill gaps?
  • Are we able to attract the talent we need?
  • Do we align our training and development with our strategic needs?
  • Do we align our benefits with our employees’ priorities?
  • How do we measure and improve employee satisfaction?
  • Are we doing enough to reduce turnover?
  • Are we keeping up with changes in our industry?
  • Are we grooming employees for our succession plan?

Think carefully about such issues and ask leaders and trusted colleagues for their suggestions.

Where possible, use data to answer questions. From tracking turnover to how many employees are currently completing training programs , you can use data to create a baseline to see if employee development plans are succeeding and how they’ll impact the company.

Find tools that make the data you need easily accessible and highlight gaps in your current processes and program. Then create a list of answers and priorities that are as specific as possible.

Included. Supported. Retained.

Don't leave your company culture to chance. With accurate, reliable employee surveys in BambooHR, you'll gain the insight you need to prevent burnout, improve morale, and stop premature turnover in its tracks.

Step 2: Focus on Individuals

Even though your employee development plan will affect your entire organization, it works by helping one person at a time. There’s no room here for lumping people together in groups. The magic of customized, one-on-one collaboration is what produces superior results.

Start by setting the right expectations for both managers and employees. Explain that they will work together on individual employee development plans for the worker’s career development.

Next, clarify responsibilities. Employees should take responsibility for their own career development by researching available resources and sticking to their self-training schedule, for example. Managers should act as facilitators who provide guidance, resources, and feedback.

Finally, encourage regular development-focused conversations. Each employee should meet privately with their manager to discuss the employee’s professional accomplishments, abilities, interests, and needs. The manager should expect to do more listening than talking in this initial meeting.

Here are some key questions to help managers launch the conversation:

  • What skills are required to do your job?
  • Tell me about something you’re proud of accomplishing in your current job.
  • Do you have what you need to do your best work?
  • What would help you improve your performance?
  • Are there other positions in our organization that you are interested in?
  • What are your career goals?
  • What have you done to advance your career?
  • What would help you make further progress in your career?
  • What obstacles to your career goals do you face?

A few more tips: Emphasize the value of asking follow-up questions to managers, so they can better understand the employee’s situation. For the most insightful answers, managers should tell employees in advance what they’ll be asked. Employees should also work with their managers to set specific, measurable goals using appropriate resources (such as those mentioned below).

Step 3: Offer the Right Opportunities

Once you know what employees need and want, there are many possible ways you can help them work toward their goals. It’s best if the manager has a list of resources ready to offer during the meeting. That way, the manager and employee can collaborate on the plan right away instead of having to schedule another meeting.

Here are some popular employee development plan ideas and resources to consider:

In the workplace:

  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Cross-training, job rotation, and job shadowing
  • Stretch assignments
  • A corporate university
  • Succession planning
  • Group training classes (when several people share a common need)
  • Membership in industry organizations that provide networking and training opportunities
  • Conferences, seminars, and other events within your industry
  • Tuition reimbursement

Some types of training and development may not be practical due to cost, time, and effort required, or other reasons. Managers should know in advance what they can and can’t offer. Many online resources are inexpensive or free, but be careful to evaluate their quality.

However, HR and management consultant Susan Heathfield cautions against making promises to employees about how much training they’ll get or whether it’ll lead to a raise or promotion. Promises could get you into legal hot water if you can’t make good on them.

“The best that you can do,” she advises, “is to say that you will help however you can, but that the company growth, economic circumstances, priorities, and goals will have an impact on the employee’s desired developmental path, promotions, and career goals. Nothing is guaranteed.”

Step 4: Track the Results and Refine Your Strategy

Once you’ve trained managers on employee development plans, evaluate the success of your managers’ efforts with individual employees and the impact of their employee development plans on your organization as a whole.

Managers and Individual Employees

Managers should periodically meet with each employee to review their progress, praise their accomplishments, and discuss where to go from here.

  • Were there unexpected obstacles or difficulties?
  • How can they be overcome?
  • Are there new opportunities?
  • Have the individual’s needs, career goals, or personal circumstances changed?

These plans shouldn’t be set in stone. They should be living, breathing documents that managers continually adjust and improve to keep helping the employee thrive .

Additionally, how often a manager and employee formally meet isn’t as important as keeping their lines of communication open so adjustments can be made as soon as they’re needed. Between meetings, occasional quick, informal check-ins can help.

Still, it’s a good idea to require a minimum number of meetings per year to avoid hearing the excuse, “Everything’s fine so we don’t need to meet.”

Organization Wide

Consider what’s practical for your organization’s size, structure, and situation. Measure individual results, assess aggregate progress, consider new opportunities to develop employees and obstacles, adjust goals and strategies for your develpoment philosophy. Repeat regularly.

Decide who will be in charge of overseeing employee development plans overall. Small businesses may need to rely on one person who already has other responsibilities, likely in HR. Larger organizations may appoint a full-time employee-development person or decide a team works best.

Any of these approaches can work. The goal is to give whoever’s in charge appropriate power to act, accountability for the results, and a strong voice to advocate for the interests of both the organization and its employees.

Consider how your organization will evaluate and share results . Your executive team also needs to understand the bigger picture: career development efforts should ultimately create a more optimized workplace with happier, more engaged employees.

One of the best ways to find out is by asking for feedback often. A brief, anonymous email survey can quickly take the pulse of your entire organization and show what’s working well and where there’s room for improvement.

To pull additional data points into your reporting, HR professionals are a great resource for measuring training outcomes, while managers can report on productivity improvements.

Next Steps: Start Building Your Employee Development Plans

Your organization is teeming with untapped potential. Your employees are eager for new knowledge, skills, and challenges. Creating an employee development plan will connect them to the people, resources, and opportunities they need to progress. You can help them at any stage of their career, just as others have helped you over the years.

It’s a rewarding feeling to watch your employees grow—and to watch your organization rise to new heights as a result. Why not begin today?

Streamline employee growth and development.

Inspire, motivate, and develop your employees with BambooHR. Our comprehensive and flexible Performance Management solution helps you automate review cycles, gather 360 degree feedback, and track growth goals.

development plan in company

Employee development plan – everything you need to know

Written by investors in people.

  • 28 January 2019

Employee development plans are action plans, working documents used actively by both the employee and line manager. They ensure the employee is growing personally, developing their ability to achieve more in the workplace, retain your top talent and meet the organisation’s goals.

They differ from personal development plans in, that personal development plans tend to be owned solely by the individual and supported by the organisation where necessary, often more focused on life goals than work goals.

Why create an employee development plan?

People are generally motivated by self-development. If this self-development is aligned with organisational goals and future needs, you help address the principal-agent problem and build employee motivation.

Employee development plans help address future business needs and succession planning. This reduces the costs of recruiting, onboarding and training external candidates. We explain everything you need to know below.

What should one include?

Step 1: establish personal and career development goals.

This is an important step because it encourages the employee to think holistically and tie in several domains of development. It makes it more likely they’ll buy into the idea of an EDP.

These goals could be growth-oriented (public speaking), skills-oriented (intermediate Photoshop knowledge) and relationship-oriented (assertiveness). The best plans will include goals in different areas.

It’s important that employees don’t view employee development plans as separate to their daily work lives.

Step 2: Establish work development needs

This involves an objective look at the demands of the role initially, to ensure the employee development plan is aligned to organisational goals, and also at the future demands of the role (how it will evolve) and future positions available in the organisation (for succession planning).

This business-oriented list of development needs can be mapped against the personal list established in step one to create alignment. You should always aim for alignment, although there may be some parallel areas of personal growth and role-focused growth.

Step 3: Develop an action plan

Once the alignment has been established and the areas for development identified, the path to this development needs to be mapped out.

Don’t forget the 70/20/10 rule – that 70% of learning comes from on-the-job experience, 20% from other people and 10% from coursework and training.

You might build formal training into the development plan but most steps should be crafted into the job itself or based on relationships with others.

Step 4: Make changes on the path to development

Once an action plan has been created, the employee must implement the changes, with support from the manager. The manager’s job is to clear obstacles.

Don’t forget – making individual changes at work is difficult because you are essentially making changes to an established system where everyone, including the person making changes, interacts with each other. You are changing the status quo. So it’s very important for the employee to have managerial support until habits are firmly established.

Step 5: Reflect on efficacy and update the plan as required

Changes the employee makes must not simply be left to exist in a vacuum. The path to development is often murky and filled with sub-optimal decisions.

Self-adjustment and reflection should be built into the final stages of the employee development plan.

It’s important that self-adjustment and reflection are built into the final stages of the employee development plan so that both manager and employee can see what went well, what didn’t and make changes so that, over time, the development becomes more successful and smoother. This is good for the employee, the manager and ultimately the organisation.

Employee development plans at work: tips to ensure they work

  • The whole, not an aside: it’s important that employees don’t view employee development plans as separate to their daily work lives, as something to be done in their ‘free time.’ Used properly, EDPs provide development opportunities through daily work.
  • Codifying is important: many managers essentially run through an informal employee development plan at the performance appraisal stage, but it’s not codified and doesn’t act as a working document – it’s seen as existing at a fixed point in time. Codifying the plan and referring back to it helps establish its importance.

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How to create powerful development plans for your employees in 8 easy steps.

The ultimate guide to creating employee development plans. Get started easily and give your people the learning opportunities they ask for.

Your people are your biggest asset.

And how you support their professional development will largely define your whole company's success. 

The idea here is not to force employees to fulfill yet another list of seasonal tasks - but to help them unleash their potential. To enable them to perform at their best. Now and in the future.

Employee development plans are also a powerful tool to boost culture, motivation, and a sense of belonging.

While you help them become more efficient, you will reap the benefits through reduced turnover and higher  employee retention rates .

However,  employee development  is a gigantic field by itself - and even experienced People Ops managers struggle with wrapping their heads around a streamlined strategy.

Well, we can confidently say that development plans are  the single most central step towards creating a fully-fleshed growth framework for your people .

And we'll show you how to get started.

Zavvy's Employee development software

📝 What is an employee development plan ?

An  employee development plan  is a structured and targeted action plan for your employee's professional growth.

In essence, it defines key competencies for individual growth - along with essential measures to get there.

The end goal: To perform better in one's existing position or acquire new skills to perform in a similar or different role.

Keep in mind that there is  no universal development plan , not even one designed for a specific department.

Instead, a professional development plan has to be tailored to every individual based on their role, core competencies, and goals.

Zavvy AI - Growth plan recommendations based on role level and competency model

❓ Benefits of employee development plans

The mere notion that someone is willing to elevate themselves can make a profound difference increase their confidence, satisfaction, trust, and long-term loyalty. 

Why employee development plans matter

Here are some more benefits of an efficient employee development plan:

‍ Increased number of job applicants

P otential employees are more likely to apply to organizations that invest in their development.

In fact,  59% of millennials  say opportunities to learn and grow are "extremely important" when  applying for a job . ‍

Lower turnover

the development programs will make your employees feel more valued, thus motivating them to continue working at your organization:

A whopping  94% of employees will stay longer  at a company if it invests in their development .

Better employee succession

Data-driven employee development is the perfect baseline for smart  career progression models .

You'll be able to identify who's a fit for a promotion and help them along the way. You'll also give your people a perspective and develop them in a specific direction with precision.

Employee succession plan template

Higher employee engagement

Your employees will be more engaged in their role, knowing you're willing to invest in their future.

More profits

Perhaps the most critical factor for some companies - employees with improved skills will be more productive, find new solutions, and increase company revenue.

This one's pretty straightforward, right?

But there's more:  70% of employees say they don't master the skills required to do their jobs, in the first place. In that light, a development plan is rather about catching up than advancing.

Better foresight

Employee development plans guide you to look at your company's future so you're better equipped for new staffing-related challenges. 

With these factors in mind, let's go through some practical steps to create and maintain your company's development plans.

📋 Template : How to create a professional development plan

Creating a decent professional development plan is not at all complex. All it takes is going through a series of structured steps. While every plan will differ based on your industry, company, role, and specific employee, here are some universal steps you can begin with.

1. Company perspective

Identify company needs.

This is a crucial step for your company's future and the foundation for everything that comes next.

It means looking into your company's plans for the upcoming months and years and seeing what needs to be done and how.

This is your chance - and responsibility - to give HR a strategic say at the table.

Give yourself some time for this step and ask questions like:

  • Do we  attract  the right kind of talent?
  • Am I happy with the way our  employees are growing  within my company?
  • Will the  current pace of growth be good enough  for the months and years to come?
  • Are my employees  happy  with the growth opportunities they have within our organization?
  • How good is our  retention , and are my colleagues leaving for better options?
  • Are we keeping up with the latest  changes in technology  and industry trends?
  • And most importantly:  What  strategic direction  is the company moving into - and what skills does it need for that?

Once you have an honest answer to all of these questions, you'll have a great starting point, not just for one employee's career development plan but for an entire department in your organization.

Do listen to your gut feeling and include:

  • Your top management team.
  • Department team leads.
  • Everyone else who may have a good idea of what it takes to get your company to that next level.

Skill gap analysis

To complement these results,  skills matrices  can give you powerful insights into the competencies currently present in the org.

skill matrix template created by Zavvy

Start with talking to your employees or orchestrating training needs analysis to determine what kind of skill gap you have at your hand.

You can also get in touch with their people's immediate managers to discover areas of improvement. For example, if you aim to close 30% more deals by this time next year, you should invest in upskilling your sales team as part of your employee development plans.

Example for an employee skill (gap) matrix. It helps you identify opportunities for growth on a team or company level.

2. Put your people in the driver's seat of their own growth

We recommend putting your people into the driver's seat of their development. 

If they're not on board with the program, they will not stick with the proposed activities, and you'll be wasting both time and money.

Make them understand the overall organizational goals - but have their own aspirations determine at least 50% of the development program's focus.

To do so, we recommend creating  2-4 focus areas :

Competencies or skills that an employee wants to improve during the development cycle.

Have them create a draft by themselves - and discuss it together. Depending on the workings of your company, this is either the role of HR/L&D or the learner's people manager. Ideally, even both.

To help your colleagues find valuable focus areas, ask them a series of questions regarding their personal needs and goals within the company. 

These can include:

  • Where am I now? What is my role?
  • What is expected from me in this role?
  • What would make me better in my role? 
  • What is holding me back from meeting my expectations?
  • When I picture myself 6 months from now, what skills do I have that I don't have now? 
  • What do I need to do to get to that version of myself? 

This first conversation will be the cornerstone of your employee development plan and help you guide everyone's efforts in the right direction.

This way, you will be enriching your employees’ journey at your company during moments that matter. Developing their skill sets gives them a chance of promotion or making a lateral move in your organization. As an employer, you will get the satisfaction of your employees, crushing your organizational goals while boosting your profits.

In your communication with the employee , you should be open, welcome their feedback, and signal that development is a priority - even during busy seasons. (And we all know: things are always busy) But, at the same time, you should stress that the program's success largely depends on their commitment and dedication.

3. Find a place to document your career development plans

To make your life easier, we went ahead and creates templates for you:

Option 1: 🧾  Excel-Template

Development Plan excel Preview

Download: 🧾 Employee development plan template [Spreadsheet]

Option 2: 📄 PDF-Template

employee development plan template PDF

Download: 📄 Employee Development Plan Template [PDF]

Option 3: ⚙️ Automated solution

Automated employee development plan software

➡️ And if you're looking for a more streamlined experience, you can run the whole process via our employee development software.

4. Make sure the goals are realistic

Ambitious goals are great.

But if they're too ambitious, they will end up causing frustration .

Plus, a goal only makes sense as long as it's trackable .

If you set goals that are unmeasurable and unrealistic, you will have a hard time tracking whether the development program is working or not. For example, “improving my communication skills is a great goal to aspire to, but it’s hardly measurable. For soft skills, you’ll need to develop a different method to assess and measure them, so take your time here to create something meaningful.

The key here is having clear, well-defined goals.

We recommend following the SMART principles as drafted below:

Setting smart goals is more motivating and effective

5. Identify actual activities - together

Great news - now that you know who's on board and what skills they need to fulfill their plans, people can define various activities for each focus area. 

Who should do this?

Everybody is different. And people prefer different means of learning. Plus, asking HR to define these activities is highly inefficient as they can't possibly know every role's training opportunities in detail.

  • Employees  should create a draft themselves
  • People managers  should give feedback
  • and  HR  can consult.

Here are some examples a decent development plan can benefit from: 

  • Courses : a more formal teaching method that doesn't require direct involvement from your company
  • Mentoring : one-on-one mentoring is one of the easiest ways to transfer knowledge directly within your company and can help both the mentor and the mentee
  • Job rotation : if you prepare your employees to make a lateral move, allow them to take a set of entirely different responsibilities 
  • Job succession planning : make a detailed outline of an employee's career path, should they stay in your company for a prolonged time.
  • Coaching : hire an external coach or have someone within your team who can help your employee(s) learn new skills 
  • Online resources:  quizzes, ebooks, guides, courses, podcasts, communities, and much more

Once you start doing some basic research, you'll see how many opportunities there are to upskill your employees, provided you've set a strong foundation for your employee development program.

One tip that can greatly help is to have a set of activities planned in advance.

For example, finding the right mentor for your employee will help them become better at closing sales calls. 

You can offer your employees options during the very first meeting, and they can decide who they're more comfortable working with.

This way, you can hit the ground running and get started with your employee development plan immediately.

If you're open to inspiration, we've gathered  6 innovative employee development activities  you can start with.

Pro tip:  Encourage people to follow the 70:20:10 principle or similar splits to avoid limiting plans to mere theory.

70:20:10 Development Plan (Excel)

6. Support your people to actually go through

The thing about any plan is: It's only worth as much as the action that follows.

For instance,  not even 10%  of the video courses get finished.

It's absolutely vital to offer support and motivate your employees during the process. Send them reminders, ask them questions, or help them create a structure to create a balance between their workflow and the training process. 

The same goes for people managers: Give them guidance and a structure to use in their development talks. Remind them. Keep them going.

Zavvy's manager companion automatically reminds managers to talk to their employees, e.g. about their development plan

In addition, this comes down to the bigger picture. Does your company have a  culture of learning ? A growth mindset is the ultimate driver of continuous learning - and consequently development plan completions.

7. Track the results

Now that you've put everything into place, it's time to track the success of your career development plan. To do that, you need to approach it from two different angles - the employee's level and the company's level.

From the employee's side, you'll want to ensure that the activities in the employee development plan are elevating their skills and making a tangible improvement over time. Many times, it's not possible to objectively measure the progress of some skills (example: soft skills). For this, you will have to resort to interviews with your employees. Also, it's a good idea to ask their direct managers if they see any improvements moving in the right direction. On the company's side, it gets a little bit more complex. To measure the results of your plan, in the long run, you need to keep up with how your employees are progressing at an individual level. That can be quite a challenge, so we are here to help you simplify it by keeping track of your employee development activities. You can use our customizable templates to schedule meetings to run pulse surveys to get more timely results. That way, you can make changes more quickly if things don't seem to be going in the right direction.

8. Don't shy away from iterating

Don't be afraid to revisit your employee development plan. Doing this will help you:

  • Fine-tune individual components.
  • Conduct a formal assessment.
  • Help you understand how the career development plan affects processes.

Keep orchestrating assessments and re-tuning them. This will ensure your plans are effective and just what your employees need.

development plan spreadsheet template download

🧠 Examples from companies's career development plans

The only thing constant is change. And the best way to create or improvise your employee development plan is by taking inspiration from companies that have nailed them. 

➡️ If you want to dive deeper, we've gathered and critiqued 10 different development plan examples to help you refine yours.

Career development action plan for exmployees at SEOptimer.

They put the weight of the employee development plan mainly on the employee. First, the employee has to do a self-assessment of their most essential motivators, skills, and competencies and how they see their future roll out in the company.

Moreover, they need to set short-, medium- and long-term goals. This is a good starting point, but the form won’t be enough to produce good results. You also need to add  another layer of information through an interview  with the employee. 

Here is another example of a fairly simple employee development plan from  SEOptimer :

Example of a personal development plan (PDP) at SEOptimer. It's more ebalorate than the first example

As you can see, this one allows more room for employees and employers to express their perspectives. 

The only downfall:  It’s quite unlikely that an employee will instinctively know what skills gap you have in the company and what specific activities they can do to get to their desired skill set.

They won’t know the ideal evaluation period either.

Here is another version of a similar employee development plan from SEOptimer:

Example for an employee development plan at SEOptimer. It's a 12-month outlook.

This one is slightly more detailed because it covers a specific career goal and lists particular skills gaps that need to be addressed and actions that can be performed within a timeframe.

When it comes to lessons you can learn from these plans and examples, one that matters is that the length of each development plan is at least 3 months. 

Another learning is that you’ll have a host of documents regarding their skills and individual plans for each employee. If you have many employees, this documentation quickly piles up and requires lots of organization.

Of course, you could do this manually. But your time is precious.

Our  tools allow you to manage your entire development framework on autopilot , making it easy to set and track employee development initiatives.

The two angles of employee development

All of these examples have in common that they all look at development plans from an employee's perspective. While this is beneficial, it does miss out. 

To design a harmonious employee development plan, you need to consider the needs of both - the employees' path to acquire new skills and the employer's journey to success.

However, we recommend at least a 50:50 mix between individual goals and the company perspective - with a tendency towards an employee's side.

Only promise what you can

Development plans are a great way to make colleagues feel valued, supported, and invested in.

But: Be careful about making false promises.

An overall career progression framework can take your  L&D-strategy  to a whole new level.

But : Be considerate and transparent about the impact people can expect.

Ask yourself: What exactly do people get out of fulfilling their plans? Is a raise feasible? Or is it merely for their own growth?

Just be sure you are aware of these benefits and call them out. And don't call anything out which you won't be able to deliver on.

➡️ Learn more about  career progression models .

Career framework example database

📈 Why (and how) to create your employee development plans with Zavvy

Once you're running employee development for more than a bunch of people, things will quickly get messy:

  • Employee development plans  are scattered  all over the place - no matter if done in Excel, PDFs, or Powerpoint.
  • No way to track progress  centrally.
  • No orientation without centrally communicated   competency models for each role.
  • Things get lost  in daily work.

With Zavvy, you can run your whole employee development framework in one central place - and on autopilot.

Awaken your static spreadsheets to life by:

  • 📅 Setting up your company's development cycle once - and  running it on autopilot.
  • 💬  Engaging everyone involved  with guidance and motivating messages.
  • ❗️ Making them meaningful  by connecting development plans to career frameworks and feedback.
➡️ Get in touch and learn how to run a cycle of continuous development with Zavvy . We’re here to help you every step of the way — from identifying room for improvement to tracking results, setting goals and achieving them with ease.

Holistic people development with Zavvy

Keke is Zavvy's expert in learning experience. On our blog, she shares experience and insights based on her studies in learning design and experiences made with our customers.

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development plan in company


6 Employee Development Plan Examples to Help Your Teams Grow and Thrive


In today's fast-paced and ever-changing professional landscape, one thing remains constant: the importance of continuous learning and professional growth.

Organisations that prioritise employee development through robust learning and development programmes reap the rewards of enhanced productivity, increased employee engagement, and a more adaptable workforce. But what makes a development plan effective? And what types of development plans are available?

In this article, we share why development plans are critical for professional development, offer a six-step framework for creating a professional development plan, and outline six development plan examples you can start leveraging right away.

But first, let’s define what an employee development plan is.

What is an employee development plan?

Professional development plans are live documents that outline actionable steps for growth, created by employees with the support of their line managers. They ensure employees have growth and career goals and that they’re developing their performance in the workplace. 

From an organisational perspective, professional development plans help support employee retention, boost critical skills, and meet the organisation’s workforce goals.

Professional development plans shouldn’t be confused with personal development plans which tend to be owned by the individual employee and are often more focused on personal goals rather than work goals.

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Why are development plans critical for professional development?

Professional development plans help employees boost their skills and competencies while also benefiting business goals. Here, we breakdown the advantages of development plans for employees and organisations.

For employees:

  • Motivation and engagement: Professional development plans boost employee motivation and engagement, resulting in higher job satisfaction and generally making people happier at work.
  • Professional development: Most employees want to grow and develop, although this varies between different generations. For example, 59% of millennials see work as an opportunity to learn and grow, whilst 44% of Gen Xers and 41% of baby boomers say the same about these types of opportunities.
  • Transparency and support: Formalised development programs help increase transparency across the business. It’s key to communicate what employees need to do to progress at your organisation and give them the support and guidance to do so. Be sure to have the same professional development structure for everyone in the business from leadership to entry-level employees. This goes a long way in creating a culture of transparency.

For organisations:

  • Internal mobility: Investing in professional development can help promote internal mobility, a strategy that is cheaper than hiring externally, especially in tough economic times. Upskilling, reskilling, or giving employees an opportunity to make an internal move is far more cost-effective than filling the position through external hiring. With skill gaps on the rise, it might even be the case that the skills you’re looking for don’t exist on the market yet.
  • Easier upskilling: Upskilling your employees helps build more resilient and adaptable teams and supports your succession planning. This allows organisations to achieve higher returns for the business. In fact, on average, 66% of employers see an ROI within one year as a result of upskilling and reskilling their workforce.
  • Employee retention: If employees don’t have a clear career path at your organisation, they’re much more likely to leave. Offering career development and certifications increases employee retention . Implementing actionable steps for team members to learn and grow helps keep employee turnover rates down and reduces the risk of additional costs of having to hire new people.

Next up? Let’s dig into the different employee development examples out there.

6 employee development plan examples to help your teams grow

There are various different types of development plans. From objective-based and skill-based plans to development plans for managers and succession plans, here we share examples of each.

1. Goal-based employee development plans

A goal-based development plan is designed to help employees set and achieve milestones and objectives and key results (OKRs).

The development of OKRs should be a top-down as well as bottom-up exercise, but managers play a key role in facilitating buy-in and making sure OKRs have a positive impact on your company’s performance.

For a goal-based development plan, it’s key that managers and employees collaborate when setting goals to ensure transparency across the board. 

Here’s the steps we take at 360Learning to create OKRs:

  • Identify company wide goals
  • Break those goals down into team objectives
  • Turn team objectives into individual objectives and break them down into key results
  • List initiatives within key results and create daily to-do lists

If you’re looking to implement OKRs across your business, it’s a good idea to upskill your teams on how to create them from the get go. You can consider including OKR training as part of your onboarding training.

Related: Check out our free OKR template to help you get started .

Setting OKRs course at 360Learning

2. Performance-based employee development plans

Like goal-based development plans, performance-based plans focus on goals that directly influence employee performance. These types of plans are designed to develop your team’s abilities to perform day-to-day job responsibilities more effectively.

For example, you might conduct a training needs analysis and identify a cohort of employees in the sales team who have skills gaps when it comes to communication. As communication skills are critical for the job role, the individuals can create a development plan to help them close the skills gap.

Related: Check out our Free training needs analysis template .

3. Development plans for people managers

A development plan for people managers is similar to an individual contributor plan but is specifically designed for people who manage a team or a particular function within an organisation. This involves a roadmap of what the manager can do to improve their performance and their team's performance.

A managerial development plan may include business objectives, like achieving the team’s revenue targets or specific leadership skills that might focus on their delegation skills.

As part of your managers development plans, consider offering leadership training to help prepare managers with the skills they need to progress.

4. Skill-based employee development plans

Skill-based employee development plans differ slightly from performance-based plans in that they focus on developing fluid sets of capabilities (skills), rather than sets of duties and responsibilities you need for that job title. For example, this might include an employee developing their written, creative, or communication skills.

A skill-based development plan creates more room for employees to make internal moves, while ensuring organisations become more resilient and adaptable.

Related: Goodbye Jobs, Hello Skills: The Fundamental Shift Reshaping the Way We Think About Talent

5. Employee self-evaluation plan

A self-evaluation plan is used as part of an employee’s performance review to track both how well they’re performing and pinpoint target growth areas. For employees, self-evaluations help employees reflect and increase their self-awareness while for managers, they are critical in understanding what the employee’s goals are at work.

A self-evaluation should include:

  • What the employee has achieved over the past year including goals that have been achieved and future goals the individual wants to pursue.
  • What professional development training has been taken and whether there is further training the employee would like to partake in next?
  • How would the employee rate their creative skills?
  • How would the employee rate their communication skills
  • Does the employee have good time management skills?
  • Has the employee shown mastery in organisational values and behaviours?

6. Succession development plan

Succession development plans describe the process of helping employees progress to more senior positions within your organisation. For example, a marketing executive may develop a succession plan highlighting the steps they need to make to become a marketing manager.

It’s important to note that succession plans must align with your company’s level-up or promotion policy, creating a fair and transparent process for all employees to advance to the next level.

As part of your succession planning, you can also consider offering management training to individual contributors who show an interest and potential in advancing towards a managerial role. Your management training can include things like how to conduct a training needs analysis to determine gaps in the team's knowledge, how to handle and prevent burnout , or how performance reviews work at your organisation.

Related: Your New Manager Training Isn’t Working—Here Are 4 Ways to Revive It


So, how can you get started with creating an employee development plan?

A 4-step framework for creating an employee development plan

The key to skills development success is to keep track of employees short-term goals and long-term goals. This ensures people have a clear, time-bound career track defined, helping them reach the next level.

Writing a professional development plan helps employees break down set goals into simple steps and allows both them and their line manager to track progress throughout a determined period of time. 

Employees should create professional development plans with the help of their manager. Once the plan is drafted, employees are encouraged to refer to it and update it accordingly, especially after reaching new professional goals or milestones. Here are four steps you can follow to help your employees create their development plans.

1. Conduct a self-assessment

First, employees should consider their current role and objectives as well as their interests and challenges. This will help them identify their strengths and weaknesses and define their career goals. The self-assessment stage of writing a professional development plan includes answering questions such as:

  • What is their current job role and responsibilities?
  • What aspects of the job do they enjoy the most?
  • What are their professional strengths, skill sets and competencies?
  • What transferable skills do they have?
  • What are some of their weaknesses and areas for improvement?

With this information to hand, you can guide and support your employees in conducting their self-assessment.

2. Set clear development goals

The next step is for your team members to set both short-term and long-term development goals. You should encourage employees to use SMART goals to make them realistic, measurable, and timely.

  • Specific : Goals need to be clearly defined.
  • Measurable : Goals should have quantifiable metrics attached to them so that they can be tracked easily.
  • Achievable : Goals need to be realistic based on the time frame and should also take into account the employee’s experience level.
  • Relevant : Goals should be relevant to the employees passions and should be aligned with their career path.
  • Timely : Goals should be set and achieved within a specific time frame in mind.

3. Create an action plan

The third step of developing a development plan is to set the strategies the employee will use to achieve their initiatives. At this stage, it’s important for people to consider these questions:

  • Does the employee know how they will achieve the goals or do they need to research them in more detail or speak to a professional?
  • Do they need any additional qualifications to reach their goals?
  • Which skills and experiences do they need to reach the next level?

4. Identify any additional resources required

The last step of setting a professional development plan is to list the resources the employee will need to help them achieve their goals. This may include:

  • Educational institutions : Degrees, diplomas and certifications will help employees move into more senior roles in various fields.
  • Employee training : Internal employee training programmes such as managerial training or leadership training will help employees develop the skills and competencies they need to advance their careers.
  • Networking associations : Networking will enable people to make new connections and can help open up new career opportunities.
  • Webinars : Online and in-person webinars or conferences can help employees develop new skills in certain areas e.g. soft skills such as communication skills or critical thinking or digital skills like social media.
  • Mentors : For employees, finding a one-on-one mentor or joining a mentorship programme can be beneficial as it’s a way to gain new experiences and get advice on how to progress at work.

Next up? Let’s take a look at some examples of different types of professional development plans.

Related: How to Design a Mentorship Program (That Employees Will Actually Enjoy)

Employee training is at the heart of professional development

Implementing employee training programmes at your organisation is key to supporting your team's continuous improvement and career development. Whatever your employee’s goals, everyone will benefit from training at work whether that be through onboarding, management training, leadership training, or product training. Ready to invest in employee training at your organisation? Get in touch with one of our learning specialists today .

Frequently asked questions

What are the benefits of a development plan?

Career development plans help boost employee motivation and engagement, resulting in higher job satisfaction and generally making them happier at work. From an organisational perspective, upskilling your employees helps build a more resilient workforce and increases retention.

What are some examples of development goals?

Examples of development goals include learning a new skill that directly or indirectly relates to your current or future position, building relationships with other team members, getting promoted to a higher position, or making a lateral move that’s more in line with an employee’s long-term career choice.

What’s the difference between a personal development plan and a development plan for work?

Personal development plans are usually owned by the individual and are often more focused on personal goals such as building relationships, managing finances, and other aspects of life. Contrary to personal development plans, professional development plans are tied to a work setting where individuals define their short-term and long-term career goals.

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Creating an Employee Development Plan: Steps & Template

Jamie Olson, VP of People & Culture at Continu

Dive into the steps of crafting a comprehensive employee development plan, ensuring growth, retention, and aligning individual goals with organizational objectives.

development plan in company

Are you looking to invest in the professional growth of your employees and drive success for your company?

Then it's time to create an employee development plan designed to increase engagement , productivity, and retention.

With the right plan in place, you can provide your employees with the tools they need to succeed, both now and in the future.

Let's dive in.

What is an Employee Development Plan?

An employee development plan is a structured approach to help employees grow and develop professionally. It outlines specific, individualized goals and action steps for employees to reach their professional aspirations and improve their job performance.

A professional development plan for employees is not a one-size-fits-all approach and tailors to each employee's unique needs and goals.

The Benefits of an Employee Development Plan

A professional development plan allows an employee to enhance their skills, knowledge, and capabilities. It provides a roadmap for personal growth, setting clear goals and identifying the necessary steps and resources to achieve them. With a professional development plan, employees can expand their expertise, advance their careers, increase job satisfaction, and contribute more effectively to their organization's success.

There are many benefits to implementing employee development plans, such as:

  • Boosts Employee Satisfaction and Retention : A well-structured employee development plan shows that the company values its employees and invests in their professional growth.
  • Improves Employee Skills and Competencies : It provides a roadmap for employees to enhance their skills, knowledge, and abilities, leading to improved job performance and effectiveness.
  • Enhances Career Opportunities : It allows employees to explore new opportunities, gain new experiences, and career development, leading to greater job satisfaction, advancement, and potential salary increases.
  • Increases Productivity and Efficiency : Employees who participate in professional development activities will be better able to handle job responsibilities, leading to increased productivity and efficiency.
  • Supports Organizational Goals and Objectives : These plans help the organization's goals by ensuring that employees have the necessary skills and competencies to achieve them.
  • Facilitates Succession Planning : A quality development plan helps organizations identify and groom potential successors, ensuring a smooth transition during crucial personnel departures.
  • Improves Employee Engagement : It encourages employees to take an active role in their professional growth, leading to increased engagement, motivation, and commitment.

Types of Professional Development Plans

Professional development plans for employees can take many forms, including:

  • Career Development Plans  focus on helping employees reach their long-term career aspirations.
  • Skill Development Plans  concentrate on improving specific skills or areas of expertise.
  • Leadership Development Plans  focus on preparing employees for leadership positions .
  • Succession Planning  focuses on preparing employees for key leadership positions that may become vacant.

Critical Elements of an Individual Development Plan

An individual development plan should include the following key elements:

  • Career Goals:  Outline the employee's long-term career aspirations.
  • Skills Assessment :  Identify areas of strength and areas for improvement.
  • Action Steps:  Develop a plan of action to reach career goals and improve skills.
  • Timeline:  Establish a timeframe for achieving career goals and completing skill-building activities.
  • Regular Check-Ins:  Schedule regular check-ins to track progress and make any necessary adjustments.

How to Create an Employee Development Plan

Creating an employee development plan requires collaboration between the employee and their manager.

Here are the steps to follow to create an effective development plan for employees:

Step #1: Identify the organization's development goals

The first step in creating an employee development plan is to understand the organization's development goals. Figuring out what the goals are will help you align your employee development plan with the company's overall objectives.

Step #2: Assess your employees' skills and abilities

The next step is to assess your employees' current skills and abilities. Evaluating your employees will help you to identify their strengths and weaknesses and what kind of development they need to reach their full potential.

Step #3: Set individual development goals

Based on the employee skills assessment results, set individual development goals for each employee. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

development plan in company

Training Objectives

Step #4: identify development activities.

Once the individual development goals finalize, identify the development activities that will help each employee reach their goals.

These activities include training programs, mentorship, job shadowing, coaching, and more.

Step #5: Create a timeline

Establish a timeline for the employee development plan, including specific deadlines for completing each development activity.

A timeframe will keep the development plan on track and ensure they meet promptly.

Step #6: Track progress and evaluate results

Regularly track progress and evaluate the results of the employee development plan. Frequent check-ins will help you assess whether the development activities effectively assist employees in reaching their goals and make any necessary adjustments.

Step #7: Adjust the development plan as needed

Based on the progress tracking and evaluation results, adjust the employee development plan as needed to ensure its continued success.

Step #8: Communicate the plan with employees

Finally, communicate the development plan with your employees and ensure they understand their goals and expectations. Encourage their participation and support in the process.

Examples of Professional Development Plans for Employees

Here are some real-world examples of professional development plans for employees:

  • A sales representative looking to improve their presentation skills might set a goal to present to a minimum of three new prospects per week and attend a presentation skills workshop.
  • A marketing coordinator looking to move into a management role might set a goal to complete a leadership development program and take on additional responsibilities within their current position.
  • An engineer looking to move into a project management role might set a goal to complete a project management certification and participate in mentorship or coaching programs to develop leadership skills.

Employee Development Plan Template

To help get you started with creating an employee development plan, here is a template you can use:

  • Goals:  Outline the goals and objectives employees want to achieve through their development plan.
  • Timeline:  Establish a timeframe for when the employee wants to accomplish each goal, including intermediate milestones.
  • Resources:  Identify the resources the employee will need to achieve their goals, including time, budget, and support from others.
  • Action Steps:  Outline the specific steps the employee will take to accomplish each goal, including any training or development activities, on-the-job experiences, and support from others.
  • Performance Metrics :  Establish how the employee will measure their progress towards achieving each goal, including qualitative and quantitative metrics.
  • Review and Feedback:  Plan regular check-ins to review progress and provide feedback on the employee's development plan and opportunities to adjust the plan as needed.

Summing up Employee Development Plans

In conclusion, an employee development plan is essential for both employees and organizations. It provides a roadmap for employee growth and career development while aligning employee goals with the organization's needs. With a well-designed employee development plan, employees can focus on their growth. At the same time, organizations can attract and retain top talent and build a solid and effective workforce for the future.

Schedule a Demo Today

Schedule a Demo Today

Jamie Olson is the VP of People and Culture at Continu, a leading Learning Management System (LMS) company. With almost 20 years of experience in Human Resources, Jamie brings a wealth of knowledge in areas such as Learning and Development, Employee Training, Talent Management, and Performance Management. She's passionate about creating environments that foster learning and growth, and she's an expert in leveraging technology to enhance HR processes. Jamie's insights are grounded in her extensive experience and her commitment to helping organizations cultivate a culture of continuous improvement.

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