Literally hundreds of self-help books tell you how to get an interview, land the job and negotiate your salary. However, the number of books that advise readers how to advance in their careers through working collaboratively with managers to identify goals and objectives pale in comparison to the usual career-oriented volumes. Employee development is part of an organization's performance management system. Taking advantage of employee development opportunities your current employer provides is the most effective and reasonable method to jumpstart or advance your career.
Performance management systems enable employers to measure employee competencies, productivity and aptitude. For large organizations, the performance management system can be very complex and consist of several elements, such as job descriptions, performance standards, corrective action or disciplinary reports, commendations, informal feedback, performance appraisals and employee development plans. Some employee development plans are referred to as "performance improvement plans" (PIPs) when the desired outcome for the plan is to improve employee performance or behavioral deficiencies.
Employee Development Plans
An employee development plan intended for enhancing an employee's career contains different feedback than what is provided during the performance appraisal meeting. Although elements of the performance appraisal may be used to construct an employee development plan, the plan is generally based on future success and greater responsibility, based on the employee who demonstrates enthusiasm, initiative and an interest in succeeding within the company. Employee development plans consist of specific goals, usually defined using the SMART method. SMART goals may be identified by the employee, her manager or both. They include goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.
Action plans are part of the strategy for successful employee development. The goals identified in an employee development plan aren't merely words on paper. They must be transferred into actual steps and activities to guarantee success. An action plan sets out the ideal steps and activities necessary for an employee to develop according to plan. For example, if the employee's goal is to become department manager within the next two years, action plan items would include maintaining superior performance in her current role, demonstrating leadership abilities by volunteering to lead team projects, developing good communication skills and exercising her talent in motivating others. In addition, the employee should participate in on-site leadership training and use some leisure time to learn more about business, industry and work skills that will enhance her chances for promotion.
Action Plan Followup
Followup on an action plan is very similar to another type of performance appraisal method called "management by objectives. In MBOs and in employee development action plans, the employee identifies goals, resources and milestones. The followup requirements for an employee development plan include reaching milestones in a timely fashion, maintaining access to resources necessary for meeting the employee's goals, and measuring progress. Measurement is an important component of action plans because the plan must have a completion date that coincides with achieving goals. Measuring employee progress at reasonable intervals ensures the employee is on track, focused and steadfastly focused on ultimate career goals.
- University of Washington: Employee Development Plan Information Session
- Coach4Growth.com: Development Action Plans for Employee Development for Behavior Changes and Skill Development; October 2010
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency: Individual Development Plan
- GovLeaders: Action Plan to Achieve Breakthrough Improvement in Productivity and Leadership Effectiveness; Dr. James A. Trinka
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition, she is a certified facilitator for the Center for Creative Leadership Benchmarks 360 Assessment Suite, and is a Logical Operations Modern Classroom Certified Trainer . Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.