Development Plans – A Business Essential

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Like any business investment, we look at the return we will receive. Some returns are more difficult than others to quantify and measure, others can be easily measured by reviewing Key Performance Indicators. For those business’s that toil with the constant challenge of enthusing their workforce to perform at a high level, then an investment into your workforce is the obvious solution. How an employer does this however, is often the question that continues to go unanswered.

Development Plans is the process of creating an action plan based on awareness, values, reflection and goal-setting within the context of career, education and self-improvement. A key retention tool used by successful businesses, development plans can incentivise employees with career development.

Employee Development Plans must be a collaborative approach between managers and employees, often resulting is assisting the building of close working relationships, creating a culture in the organisation where every employee is motivated to learn new skills and acquire new learnings. Employees gain confidence and feel they can contribute value to the goals of the organisation.

Tailored Development Plans are always preferable, as templates can only take you so far. So, the question is, what are the key factors of a good development plan, here is a brief guide to consider;

  • Clear Expectations – This process is all about helping employees learn and grow. An accurate identification of current skills and abilities should be agreed on, and then a plan detailed to improve these skills, which the business requires.
  • Effective Feedback – Development plans are not a set and forget process. They should be revisited three to four times a year, development tracked, and feedback provided. This feedback will detail efforts that are meeting expectations, and those that need improvement.
  • Engagement – Management and employees must engage in this process. Engagement generates additional input and helps build commitment to the end plan. This process gives the employee the forum to share their thoughts with management and feel that their contribution is valued.
  • Skill Development – Identifying the current skills your workforce has, is an individual assessment and one which management must approach with knowledge of the skills required in the business. Identifying point A, and mapping out to the employees how they arrive at point B, is determined together, so buy in is essential.
  • Lifestyle Management – Sometimes the most challenging aspect of the plan. However, most employee agreements refer to an employee’s ability to discharge their responsibilities in a fit capacity. Life-work balance can impede an individual’s performance, so management of this can often deliver the greatest rewards.

If this process is managed correctly, the benefits to both the business and employee will clearly define the future success of both parties. Performance reviews will be an annual process, that will be far more efficient, with greater value of contribution of fact to the process. The return on the workforce investment will be material.

So, like any business, large or small, an investment can take time, and at a cost, but the most relevant question is, can your business afford not to have Development Plans in place?

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