The Employee Development Plan – Do You File It Before Acting on it? 6 Tips To Make Development Plans Relevant.

Finally, the year-end performance process is over, or is it!?   Really, the performance management cycle is never complete, transitioning through several stages on an annual basis, hopefully, on an upward spiral to greater organizational performance. 

Traditionally, part of the performance management process is the creation of employee goals and development plans.  In many organizations, this part of the cycle gets kicked-off with some fan fare, but quickly wanes.  Development plan actions, put into place with good intentions, are often monitored irregularly, and, eventually, relegated to a file only to be dusted off when the year-end performance evaluation process again kicks in.

Are employee development plans really worth all of the organizational resources expended on them, or are they really just an HR “checklist item”?  Research clearly shows that employee development programs, done with thought and consistency, are of strategic importance to both organizations and employees; organizations offering employees professional development opportunities increase the likelihood of retaining their talent and, in turn, create a cadre of high-performing workers who excel at building organization-wide capabilities that drive business growth. In addition, research has demonstrated there is financial incentive to organizations.  In a recent research study, companies with a sophisticated approach to employee development averaged three times higher revenue growth over the three-year period examined.

Here are 6 tips to embed and sustain effective employee development plans that will benefit the bottom line of your organization: 

  1. Align Plans With Business Objectives and Culture – Both planned and spontaneous developmental opportunities for your employees should be aligned with the company’s strategic goals and consistent with the organization’s culture.  In addition, development opportunities should be purposeful as to be mutually beneficial to both employees and the organization. 
  2. Be Creative and Make Actions Relevant – The vast majority of learning and development takes place not in formal training programs, but rather on the job – through new challenges and developmental assignments, developmental feedback, conversations and mentoring. Be creative in addressing your employees' development needs, striving to incorporate learning opportunities in everyday workplace activities.
  3. Detail the Employee’s Responsibility – Whether it is remedial or an advancement opportunity, develop the action plan with your employee’s input to ensure employee engagement and buy-in.  Getting a better understanding of your employee’s perspective on their current career status, future goals and how they think they can accomplish them is invaluable in creating relevant and meaningful development actions. Be specific. 
  4. Detail the Specific Manager’s Accountability – Research shows that your involvement as a manager in your employees’ development activities significantly impacts both managerial effectiveness and employee performance. Managers should be clear and specific in their expectations of employees’ development goals and include specific detail around your role in the development plan as a manager.  Your actions and accountability in helping the employee accomplish the development activity need to be clearly detailed.
  5. Prioritize and Follow Through – Prioritize and establish a timeline; regularly monitor progress against your employee’s development plan milestones, assess the need for additional resources or involvement and readjust direction as needed.  Regular progress checks will also help you as the manager assess your employees’ engagement level and ability (or inability) to achieve the developmental goals agreed upon.
  6. Test New Skills and Provide Feedback – Set up opportunities where your employees can quickly apply newly developed or enhanced skills to the job and receive candid feedback.  This will help reinforce and refine their new skills; if they cannot use the new knowledge when it is fresh, they are likely to lose it.

Prism Partners International can help you assess the performance of your employees against the strategy and culture of your organization and deliver resulting employee development plans that will drive superior performance and improved organizational results. Through our practical operational experience, and innovative assessments and analytics, we can focus and align management actions and employee performance to achieve improved profitability. 

Further, we have recently partnered with Dynactive Software, an online gamification learning software company.  Dynactive’s learning and content management systems, enables users to learn more, faster, and at significantly lower costs.  Dynactive’s proven methodology can help employees achieve their potential and their company’s critically vital business goals in a cost saving and revenue enhancing way.   

Please contact us to learn how we can help.  We invite you sign-up for our weekly blog posts at  We also ask that you join our LinkedIn Group (Strategic Human Capital Alignment Forum), Like Us on Facebook (Prism Partners International) and Follow Us on Twitter (@PrismPartners).