How to Create Employee Development Plans That Work

Author: Daniel Quintero

Daniel Quintero

Daniel Quintero

8 min. read

Updated October 25, 2023

On average, employees change jobs every four years. Some are unhappy with the work conditions. Others feel like they’ve reached their full potential in that company. And of course, there are the ones that are eager for a change, feeling overwhelmed by doing the same things over and over again.

Why is this happening, you might ask?

Employee retention is one of the biggest and potentially expensive issues for companies. The cost of replacing an unhappy employee who quit comes out to be between six and nine months‘ worth of salary.  And yet, very few companies today take real action to reduce these unwanted occurrences.

There are many ways to help your employees and make them thrive in the workplace. Implementing a personal development plan is a great way to get started.

The benefits of personal development plans

This is the first of Perkbox’s brilliant team engagement ideas. According to this source, ‘growth and development are the basis of every career.’ When creating a development plan for your employees, you can determine everything from their skillset and pitfalls, figure out what type of training they need, and help them feel valued in your company.

By encouraging learning and prioritizing personal growth, you can make employees more invested in their job. The Society for Human Resource Management reveals three key employee engagement factors that most businesses miss out on training, professional, and career development.

They emphasize the need for training and its impact on their productivity and engagement. According to this source, the absence of improvement and growth in a workplace results in a ‘lack of engagement and a less competent workforce.’ 

You sure don’t want this for your business, right? If you want to make your employees better-trained and more engaged, here are the best ways to make it happen.

1. Assess your employees’ readiness – and their potential

Before you start considering skill gaps, you need to learn what your employees can do at this point. For each team member, create a list of things that they are already able to do. While doing this, remember that readiness and potential are different. The first refers to their current skills and how they affect their current and near-future work. The latter refers to what you believe that the employee can achieve in the future.

Lucky for you, some tools can make this process much easier. If you’re thinking: this is too much work and it will take too long, so leveraging tools like AssessTeam and Lattice are a great solution. These software products are designed to provide productivity and engagement reports, evaluate individual employees, and provide you with a continuous feedback loop that promotes career growth.

You can even use them to get real-time feedback from your team.

2. Do a skills gap analysis

Thinking that your team has to do everything flawlessly is a very bad way to lead a business. People have their skills and knowledge, but they also have some gaps. That’s why it’s important to uncover their potential – to learn where you need to upskill every individual in your team.

In other words, you need to perform a training needs analysis.

This type of analysis focuses on your company’s objectives and based on them, it figures out what each member needs to get to the point where you can achieve them.

At this point, your focus should be on the employees who have the potential to grow and learn. Your efforts for them are to build on their current skills and invest in additional training as soon as they are ready for it.

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3. Create a ‘before, during, and after’ plan

This is the time for you to assess your goals. Do you know where you stand exactly? Do you know where you’re planning to go with this, or how you’ll make it happen? As soon as possible, you need to sit down and create a ‘ before, during, and after plan’. Let’s look at this a bit closer.


Right now is the moment before you implement your employee development plans. It’s when you need to set very specific goals about what you want to achieve by doing this. Personal development plans require a lot of time, investments, and constant measuring. It’s not a simple thing to do and, for it to yield actual results, you need to know what you’re striving to achieve.


During is the period when you’re implementing your plans before they are completed. At this point, you will perform your testing, your training, and slowly help your team develop and grow. For this period, you need to figure out things like:

  • Who’s going to cover shifts while your employees are in training?
  • Can they switch places or do you need extra people?
  • What type of training do you need for a specific employee? How much will it cost?
  • Can you train several employees at the same time/ with the same methods and achieve the desired effects?

You might not have all the answers at your disposal at the beginning, but at least set an outline, a base where you’ll enter your plan data afterward.


This is when your development plans have already been implemented and the point where you should be able to see the results. When training concludes, you need to evaluate the employee’s development and growth and give them time and space to apply the new skills in their work.

At this point, you need to plan for the opportunities you’ll give employees to use those new skills they’ve obtained. You also need to decide on which methods you’ll choose to track their performance – and reward them if they’re successful.

4. Consider your business goals

You probably have many plans and dreams for your business, but how much of it is realistic? You need to base this on what you’ve learned about the abilities of your employees, as well as their potential.

Sit down and do some brainstorming. Take each goal you have in mind and consider these things:

  • Does your team have what it takes to make it happen?
  • What do you need to offer or provide to them to make it possible?
  • Does your team have the potential to complete that goal?
  • How long will it take you to get them there?

Once you find the answers to these questions, brainstorm on possible action to add personal development plans that reflect your desired results i.e. objectives.

5. Align the plans with employee goals

Transparency is important when you’re leading employees. By sharing your goals with them, you give them context to what they’re supposed to do, as well as what they’ll achieve thanks to the training and development. This can create better communication where you accomplish your business goals and they share their thoughts and ideas with you.

Personal development plans are exactly that – personal. They shouldn’t solely be based on your business goals. If they are, chances are they won’t work with every employee.

The reason why you’re implementing personal development plans is to help people grow based on their skills and potential. Once you identify which are their areas of need and make sure that your employees are interested in developing and growing, you can connect the dots.

Many plans fail because employees are not motivated enough or involved in the process. You need to figure out ways to motivate them to take on training and work on themselves. Whether you’ll use incentives like higher positions and salaries, rewards or praise, or make it mandatory,  it is up to you.

6. Use plan templates to speed up the process

If you haven’t done this already, chances are it will be challenging to create employee development plans for every team member. Thankfully, there are many templates you can find online to speed up the process.

For example, you can implement an individual development plan by using the Indeed template in the early stages. Or, you can plan for the succession of your organization by using a Smartsheet or SIgmaAssessmentSystems template.

7.  Make sure that the training fits the potential and the employee

Now that you’ve decided what your employees need and how you’ll handle the development, it’s time to figure out which methods you’ll use to implement it.

Start with the type of training you will use. There are many methods of delivery that should be based on your and your employees’  goals. You can do coaching, mentoring, job shadowing, cross-training, microlearning, on-the-job training, and more.

This is the time to decide what form your training will take for different employees. To make this simpler and smoother, you can use various tools to help you:

Learning management systems (LMS)

LMS software gives you a workshop where you can combine your data and organize it into an intuitive learning plan. It’s a spot where your team can collaborate, learn, and test their knowledge. Some examples of this are TalentLMS and eFront.

Learning experience platforms (LXP)

These are much alike LMSs, but they have a difference — they are designed for learners specifically, while LMSs are used to train managers and advanced employees. Any platform can provide a learning experience, starting with YouTube for videos and Netflix for work-related movies. And of course, you can go for LXP pioneers like EdCast and Pathgather to make training engaging and fun.

Online live training tools

Lastly, we shouldn’t forget about the modern way to do some training today, especially in a period when we’re dealing with limited contact (due to the pandemic). Today, video training is very popular. Companies all around the world use tools like Zoom and JoinMe to provide their team with training.

Start collaborating to build personal development plans

Well-planned and implemented personal development plans can mean everything for your business’ success and future. Not only will they help you mitigate unnecessary turnover, but they will help create a more engaged and healthy workplace culture. Identify opportunities to start building these personal development plans, tie them back to the core drivers of your business and make their implementation part of your monthly review process.

Are you ready to get started? 

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Content Author: Daniel Quintero

Daniel is a tech investor, entrepreneur, and executive with a demonstrated history of building and scaling new technologies in Silicon Valley. In the last twenty years, Dan has raised over $100 million in venture and private placement capital, with exits to companies including JPMorgan Chase, TellApart, and Twitter for amounts exceeding half a billion dollars. Before working in technology, Dan was a consultant at the globally top-ranked econometric consulting firm Cornerstone Research and has since continued to be relied on as a valuation expert in front-page commercial litigation.