Employee Development Plan: Tips on How to Write a Great Personal Career Development Plan - Plus Sample Forms

Find out why you should have an employee development plan, along with tips, what to look out for and free sample forms for writing a great personal career development plan.

But first, you should know that an employee development plan:

  • is an important element of your career development planning process;

  • lists your key goals and your top competency gaps;
  • contains an action plan of career development techniques to close your gaps;

  • references your career goals and interests; and
  • captures dialogue between you and your manager and agreements made;

What to look out for

Let's quickly review the main components of a sample development plan and what to look out for as you complete it.

Note: You will need ADOBE ACROBAT READER 5 (or higher) to download this template and the one below. If you do not have it, please download it now.

  • Top 3-5 business objectives - list your top 3-5 goals or objectives in this section. The aim is to help you focus on your top priorities for the year. If you feel it is absolutely necessary to list all your goals then do so. This section forms the foundation of your development plan and provides the linkage between your needs and that of the business. Lose this link and your risk developing yourself out of context. If you don't know what they are or having difficulty writing them down then ask your manager for their input.

  • Core competencies - are skills and characteristics you need to be successful in a position and can be a combination of both leadership and technical competencies. You should find out what core competencies you need for your position and list them in the employee development plan. The next step is to assess your gaps for each competency.
  • Competency gaps - review your competence level and list those competencies that need further development and the specific gaps you have within each competency. This exercise should be closely tied to your goals and objectives such that the competency you are planning on developing will enable you to achieve better business results. This is a continuous closed-loop process where you review your key goals and objectives, assess the core competencies you will need for them and if there are any gaps identifying them in your employee development plan.
  • Plan to close each gap - an important aspect of your development plan is what you plan on doing to close each of your core competency gaps. There is a variety of career development techniques you can use depending on the type of gap you are trying to close. Select the most appropriate one.
  • Target completion and status - use this section of your employee development plan to record the date of when you intend on closing your competency gap. You can use the status section and the Red/Yellow/Green indicators to assess if your plan is on track or not.
  • Manager involvement - this is really important! Your development plan but is not complete unless you have reviewed it with your manager. After all, you will need your manager's support in implementing the plan and the earlier you get their involvement the better it will be. Keep your manager involved in this process. Don't be afraid of having a good discussion or even a debate about each other's views during this process as it will lead to a better outcome. It is much easier to have some level of prior discussion and debate than have your manager completely reject your employee development plan as you are about to implement some of the actions.

The Form or the Discussion?

By now you will be ready to download the sample development plan which you can complete or adapt to suit your needs.

However, I want to stress that the form you end up using for your career development plan is not really important. It is the discussion that you will have with your manager, coach and mentor which is more important than the form.

The form that I have presented for you here is just one of the many ways to capture the employee development plan data in some meaningful format which then creates the structure to have the discussion.

The discussion is key.

Better the discussion, better will be the outcome.

Make sure you prepare in advance.

Think about all the factors to consider - such as your career interests and needs , your passion and what you enjoy doing, your family situation, unique aspects of your job that need discussion. Your own work related goals and objectives. Your educational needs. How long you intend on staying on in the current position. These are all things to consider which will add richness to the discussion.

Ask for feedback as you have the discussion. What does your manager think about all of this? What would they do if they were in your situation? What else would they recommend you consider? Is there anything you have missed?

Aim on having a quality discussion and you will achieve a quality output from your employee development plan!

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