An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage. — Jack Welch
As we head into the second half of the year, most of us will be about to undertake mid-year performance reviews. Whether your reviews are formal or informal, this is an important time to review supporting development plans.
Benefits of development planning
When development planning is strategic and well thought out, it can provide the following benefits:
- Increased employee engagement
- Shows a commitment and loyalty to your employees growth
- Reduces the level of support and guidance your employees will need
- Improved business performance, leading to stronger profits
- Reduces attrition, which in turn reduces recruitment cost and dropped productivity
- Supports succession planning, which can reduce business risk of losing key people within the business
- Increased development of new skills within the business.
Keeping development plans relevant
It’s important that both line managers and employees understand that development plans identify development activities that support both the employee and the business. There is often a disconnect between what the employee would like to do and what the business needs from them. For this reason, a development plan should be created in conjunction with the performance plan. The employee’s role, KPIs and advancement to future roles (agreed between the line manager and employee) should be aligned.
Learning journey versus training
A development plan should not just outline training courses but instead map out a learning journey. That learning must be relevant and timely, and employees need an opportunity to use their new skills or knowledge. Examples of appropriate activities are:
- Job rotation
- Project work
- Client visits
- Professional memberships and magazines
- Research paper
- Performance support
- External training courses
- One-up meetings
- Profession forums and blogs
SMART development plans
Development plans should include SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-related) goals. The employee and manager should agree on not only what a learning event will achieve but also when the event will be completed.
Activities should be scheduled throughout the year, with the most business critical activities completed first. After all, an organisation won’t realise the business benefit of development activities if they are left to the last two months of the performance cycle.
Development plans should also be spoken about in one-on-ones. This gives the manager and employee the opportunity to address performance and development issues in tandem, as they occur, and ensure goals are completed in time.
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Now more than ever learning and development costs are being heavily scrutinised. Use effective development planning to show how employee development offers a return for your business.