The Ultimate Guide: Building an Employee Development Plan in 7 Steps

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, investing in employee growth is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity. According to, 93% of employees are willing to stay with a company if it invests in their career development. An employee development plan is a strategic tool that can transform your workforce, boost productivity, and drive organizational success.

Whether you’re a seasoned HR professional or a manager looking to nurture your team’s potential, these employee development plan tips will help you craft a roadmap for continuous improvement.

From identifying individual career aspirations to aligning personal goals with company objectives, we’ll explore how to create a robust framework that supports both employee and organizational growth.

Read More: Importance Of Career Planning And Development

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Step 1: Assess Current Skills and Performance

Before you can help your employees grow, you need to know where they stand. This first step is all about understanding what your employees can do right now.

A. Conducting skills assessments

Think of this like a test, but for work skills. You can use quizzes, practical tasks, or even computer programs to see what your employees are good at. For example, you might ask a salesperson to role-play a sales call to see how they do.

B. Reviewing performance evaluations

Look at how your employees have been doing in their jobs. Check their past performance reviews. These reports can show you what they’re great at and where they might need some help.

C. Gathering feedback from peers and supervisors

Ask the people who work with your employee every day. Their coworkers and bosses can give you valuable information about how the employee works in a team or handles different tasks.

Read More: How to Create a Career Development Plan for Employee Close to Retirement

Step 2: Identify Career Goals and Aspirations

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Now that you know where your employees are, it’s time to find out where they want to go. This step is crucial for any employee professional development plan.

A. Short-term objectives

These are goals your employee wants to achieve soon, maybe in the next few months or a year. It could be something like learning a new skill or taking on a small project.

B. Long-term career vision

This is about the big picture. Where does your employee see themselves in five or ten years? Do they want to become a manager? Or maybe they want to become an expert in their field.

C. Aligning personal goals with organizational needs

Here’s where you make sure that what your employee wants matches what your company needs. If an employee wants to lead teams, and your company is growing, that’s a great match!

Step 3: Gap Analysis: Current vs. Desired State

This step is about finding the difference between where your employees are now and where they want to be. It’s a key part of any employee career development plan.

A. Identifying skill gaps

Look at the skills your employee needs for their dream job. Then compare that to the skills they have now. The missing skills are the gaps you need to fill.

B. Recognizing knowledge deficiencies

This is about what your employee needs to learn. Maybe they need to understand a new computer program or learn about a different part of the business.

C. Pinpointing areas for behavioral improvement

Sometimes, it’s not just about skills or knowledge, but how people act at work. Maybe an employee needs to get better at speaking in public or working in a team.

Step 4: Design the Development Plan

Now that we know where your employees are and where they want to go, it’s time to make a plan to get them there. This is where your employee training and development plan comes to life!

A. Setting SMART goals

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Instead of saying “Get better at public speaking,” a SMART goal would be “Give a 10-minute presentation to the team by the end of the quarter.” This makes it clear what success looks like.

Read More: Ultimate Guide to Setting SMART Career Objectives (with Examples)

B. Choosing appropriate development activities

There are many ways to help your employees learn and grow. Here are some options:

  1. Formal training programs: These are like classes for work. They could be online courses, workshops, or even sending your employee to a conference.
  2. On-the-job learning opportunities: This is about learning by doing. You might give your employee a new project or let them shadow someone in a different role.
  3. Mentoring and coaching: Pair your employee with someone who can guide them. A mentor can share their experience and give advice.
  4. Self-directed learning: Some people like to learn on their own. This could mean reading books, watching videos, or practicing skills in their free time.

C. Creating a timeline for achievement

Make a schedule for when things should happen. This helps keep everyone on track and makes sure the plan doesn’t get forgotten.

Step 5: Resource Allocation and Support

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A great employee individual development plan needs resources to make it happen. Here’s how to make sure your plan has what it needs to succeed.

A. Budgeting for development activities

Figure out how much money you need for the plan. This might include costs for courses, travel, or materials.

B. Securing management support

Make sure the bosses are on board with the plan. Their support can make a big difference in how well the plan works. As Harvard Business School professor and author Linda Hill states:

“The best managers recognize that their role is to help build the capabilities of their team members.”

C. Identifying mentors and coaches

Find the right people to help guide your employee. Look for folks who have the skills and experience your employee needs.

Step 6: Implementation and Execution

Now it’s time to put your employee professional development plan into action! This is where all your planning starts to pay off.

A. Launching the plan

Think of this like the first day of school. You’re starting something new and exciting. Make sure your employee knows exactly what they need to do and when. It’s a good idea to have a kick-off meeting to get things started on the right foot.

B. Monitoring progress

Keep an eye on how things are going. Check in regularly with your employee to see if they’re completing their tasks and learning new things. This could be through weekly chats or monthly check-ins.

C. Overcoming obstacles and challenges

Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. Maybe a course gets cancelled or your employee is struggling with a new skill. Don’t worry! The key is to face these problems head-on. Talk about what’s not working and find new ways to move forward.

Step 7: Evaluation and Adjustment

The last step in your employee career development plan is to look back at what you’ve done and see how it worked.

A. Measuring success against set goals

Remember those SMART goals you set? Now’s the time to see if you’ve reached them. Did your employee give that presentation they were working towards? Did they learn the new skill they wanted to?

B. Gathering feedback on the development process

Ask your employee how they felt about the plan. What did they like? What could have been better? Their input can help make future plans even more effective.

C. Making necessary adjustments to the plan

Based on what you’ve learned, you might need to change some things. Maybe you need more time for certain activities, or perhaps you’ve discovered a new area where your employee wants to grow. It’s okay to update the plan – in fact, it’s a good thing!

Best Practices for Successful Employee Development Plans

Let’s talk about some tips to make your employee training and development plan really shine!

A. Ensuring alignment with organizational goals

Think of your company like a big team. Everyone needs to be working towards the same goals. When you’re making a personal development plan for employees, make sure it fits with what your company wants to achieve.

For example, if your company wants to expand into new markets, you might focus on language skills or cultural understanding in your development plans.

B. Promoting a culture of continuous learning

Learning shouldn’t stop when school ends. Encourage your employees to always be curious and eager to learn new things. You could do this by celebrating when people learn new skills, sharing interesting articles or videos, or even starting a company book club.

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C. Leveraging technology in development activities

Technology can make learning easier and more fun. Use online courses, virtual reality training, or even apps that help track progress. This can make your employee professional development plan more engaging and accessible.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Now, let’s look at some mistakes to watch out for when making your employee individual development plan.

A. One-size-fits-all approaches

Every employee is different. What works for one person might not work for another. Avoid using the same plan for everyone. Instead, tailor each plan to fit the individual employee’s needs and goals.

91% of employees want personalized, relevant training. – According to

B. Neglecting soft skills development

Soft skills are things like communication, teamwork, and leadership. They’re just as important as technical skills, but they’re often forgotten. Make sure your employee career development plan includes both hard skills (like using a specific software) and soft skills.

C. Failing to secure employee buy-in

Your plan won’t work if the employee isn’t excited about it. Make sure your employees understand why the plan is important and how it will help them. Get their input and make sure they feel ownership over their development plan.

The Role of Management in Employee Development

Managers play a big part in making employee development plans work. Let’s see how they can help!

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A. Providing ongoing support and feedback

Managers should be like coaches for their team. They need to check in often, not just once a year. They should tell employees what they’re doing well and where they can improve. This helps the employee stay on track with their personal development plan.

B. Creating opportunities for growth

Good managers look for chances for their employees to learn new things. They might give an employee a challenging project or let them lead a meeting. These experiences are great for an employee individual development plan.

C. Leading by example

Managers should show that learning is important by doing it themselves. If managers are always trying to get better, it encourages employees to do the same. This helps create a culture where everyone wants to grow and improve.

Integrating Development Plans with Performance Management

Now, let’s see how employee development plans fit into the bigger picture of managing how people do their jobs.

A. Linking development to performance reviews

When managers talk to employees about how they’re doing at work, they should also talk about their development plan.

They can discuss what the employee has learned and how it’s helping them do their job better. This shows how the employee professional development plan is making a difference.

B. Using development plans in succession planning

Succession planning is about preparing people to take on bigger roles in the company. Employee career development plans can help with this. They show who might be ready for a promotion or who has the potential to be a future leader.

C. Aligning development with compensation and rewards

When employees work hard on their development plans and improve their skills, it’s good to recognize that. This could mean a raise, a bonus, or even just a public “thank you”. This shows that the company values growth and encourages everyone to keep learning.


Creating an effective employee development plan is a powerful strategy for nurturing talent and driving organizational success. By following these seven steps and implementing the provided employee development plan tips, you can create a robust framework for growth.

Please note that each employee individual development plan should be tailored to the unique needs of both the employee and the organization. Whether you’re crafting a personal development plan for employees or a comprehensive employee career development plan, the key lies in continuous support, regular evaluation, and adaptability.

By investing in your employees’ growth, you’re not just developing individuals – you’re building a stronger, more competitive organization.

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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