Our topic this week is development plans, which is timely for the start of a new year but also very appropriate when employees are asked to do more with fewer resources.
When times are lean, you need everyone working at peak performance and learning new skills. This is the perfect chance to encourage folks to flex and consider their development opportunities: an opportunity good for them and good for the company.
In the year ahead, I believe we will all be tested and challenged. Providing your employees with an ongoing development plan gives them the tool they need to take responsibility for their own professional growth.
The development planning process can be just another HR initiative that usurps precious time from your "business" activities. However, when you calculate the impact your employees have on the bottom line - both as an expense and a source of potential revenue - you can see the benefit of more strategically managing your one of your largest investments.
Consider this: A downturn in business presents an opportunity to retool and refocus your talent pool because when the market turns around you will be poised for dominance. Those who squander this chance to look inward risk lost revenue and market share as your competitors with better qualified talent surpass you. Therefore, as a part of your business planning process, you create a road map to refine your strengths, develop new skills or reach new markets, and mitigate your weaknesses.
Since company performance ultimately depends on the performance of each individual employee, you cannot afford for employee performance to remain stagnant year over year either. This is where your development planning process plays an important role: the development plan is the business road map translated down to the employee level.
So how do you get started?
1) As a starting point, take your company and/or your team goals and have each employee identify 3-5 main objectives that align with those initiatives.
- Does the employee need to learn new skills to help them reach their objectives? Add that to the training plan.
- Does at least one of those objectives stretch and/or challenge the employee? If not, refine the list to include one.
- How will you know when the objective has been reached? Be sure to be specific enough that you can follow up on progress.
2) Additionally, choose at least one strength and evaluate how you, as a supervisor, can leverage that strength, while giving the employee more opportunities to stretch, grow, and refine.
3) Also, choose one development area and plan out how can the employee can improve. Think out of the box: shadowing, on the job training, formal training, research, mentoring, special project assignments.
4) Choose a time to discuss the plan with your employees. Remember this is a development discussion (proactive) not a corrective action discussion (reactive).
5) Write everything down. This ensures you have a visible reminder of your conversation.
6) Set a time to follow up. You might need to have formal monthly check-ins with the employee or informal conversations. Either is fine, but just don’t forget to track progress and provide feedback regularly.
Remember, if you don't know where you're going, you'll never get there. Using a development road map helps ensure your employees and your company reach their maximum potential.