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Training and Development

Employee Development Plans

Karen Benz
Employee Development Plans


Employee Development Plans are part of today’s organizational scene. They are slightly different than performance management plans, which are organized by the company and performed monthly, quarterly or annually. These plans include not only what you, as the manager, deem to be important development areas for the direct report, but also what the direct report deems important. In other words, what do they aspire to do? The best practice for the creation of these plans are to have one for every direct report you manage.

Do you have employee development plans for your “star” employees and not for others? Or, do you have development plans for the lower-performing and not the higher performing? These would fall more into the “corrective” performance improvement plan category.


Ideally, you and each of your direct reports create a written document that sets out short-term and long-term goals, based on not only work performance, but also on the aspirations of the team member. They can be done together or separately with each of you working on them and then coming together to debrief. The steps used to create this plan include the following:

  • Identify where the direct report’s performance would fall on a scale of 1-10
  • Work together to assess their strengths
  • Discuss skills that may need strengthening in order to bring performance to a 10
  • Identify a plan for closing the skills gap, identifying who is responsible for each item and what resources might be needed
  • Talk about the direct report’s aspirations. Establish a plan for addressing these aspirations (example: employee wants to move from an individual contributor to a manager)


John Rossheim pointed out the benefits of development planning with younger employees. Writing for Monster.com, he succinctly states, “You worked hard to recruit 2018 grads. Now get them to stick around.”

John goes on to say that younger, newly-recruited millennials don’t believe in a “job for life” and intend to switch companies every couple of years. Recruiting and replacing staff is costly, so working with them on development plans that lay out a long-term future with the organization can certainly pay off. Click here for BetterManager’s Guide to Employee Development Plans.

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