15 Best Practices for Employee Career Development Plan

Running a business is not a mean feat, regardless of the size and scale of operations.

Even small business owners face a fair share of challenges while managing daily processes and pursuing long-term goals.

As you address these elements, you hardly get time to focus on other aspects.

An employee career development plan may be the last thing on your checklist, but it is vital for the growth and success of your company.

Additionally, it boosts employee engagement and retention in the long run.

Here are the best practices to create an effective employee career development plan you don’t want to miss out on.

1. Connect training to goals

Career Development Plan

Identifying realistic growth goals for your business gives you a good start. But going the extra mile with your individual development program requires connecting training programs to business goals.

Your HR managers can do their bit to implement a plan that unlocks these benefits for your company.

Ensure that all the learning activities within your organization contribute to the overall objectives in some way. For example, training for sales staff should focus on maximizing revenues.

Likewise, the employee career development program for your HR professionals should work toward enhancing the HR processes and cutting down the costs of hiring and onboarding.

You can train customer support staff to enhance the support process.

2. Focus on a few areas

Although you may want to encourage all-around development for your employees, the approach may exert immense pressure on your resources.

It may not be a good one for startups or small businesses running on a tight budget. But you need not worry about the expense.

You can get the best of both worlds by being selective about the development areas instead of going too broad.

Pick a few skills and knowledge areas employees should concentrate on to deliver the best benefits to your business.

You can start with the ones people can immediately apply for in their job roles. They can always add more skills down the line.

3. Consider business goals

Before setting IDP objectives for your team members, you must consider your business goals. It gives you an advantage as you can align individual development with business growth.

List both short- and long-term business objectives and decide whether your current team has the skills and capabilities to fulfill them.

You may need more people in your team to fill the skill gaps within the organization, but there is a better alternative. You can train and develop internal talent to bridge the gap.

Investing time and effort into individual development is a better option as it can lower the recruiting, onboarding, and training costs and drive growth.

4. Monitor and review

You cannot take a set-and-forget approach to individual development plans for your employees. Going slack with them can easily put them off the plan, and the employees may never reach the levels of expertise you want.

Monitor the plans during the implementation phase and later. Review the outcomes and report them to senior management.

It is crucial to invest in supervisor coaching as they play a significant role in the quality of IDPs. Also, be open to acting against supervisors who fail to meet expectations.

5. Talk to your employees

15 Best Practices for Employee Career Development Plan

Talking to your team members gives you a better understanding of how they intend to achieve their career goals as individuals. You may also know their skill level and potential by digging deep.

Ask them to assess themselves and share the challenges they face in their current position. You can list the weak areas and create a program to address them with stretch assignments, additional training, and mentoring.

Knowing individuals better gives you a chance to create personalized training plans that save time and money for your organization.

Moreover, they are more likely to stick with an employer that understands their needs and works toward fulfilling them.

6. Learn about different types of training and development

Another IDP best practice organizations must follow learning about different types of training and development programs you may implement.

You need not spend a fortune on complex and high-end programs, as simple and cost-effective alternatives are available.

For example, you can pick online courses for employees instead of tying them down with formal classroom training.

Besides being cost-effective, online training eliminates the need for staying off work because employees can study anywhere and anytime.

Stretch assignments, special projects, one-on-one coaching and mentoring, and local networking groups are more viable IDP options to explore.

7. Recognize readiness and potential

Assessing employees is tricky as HR managers often mix up readiness and potential. For example, a person may have the potential for a leadership position but may not be ready to step into that role.

Personal concerns like the inability to travel or spend long hours at work may be the reason for the lack of readiness. You can check individual development plan examples to recognize the difference between readiness and potential and address the situation accordingly.

Moreover, it lets you pick the right people to fit into specific roles instead of relying on guesswork.

8. Think long-term with your IDP

Identifying specific learning opportunities for your employees is only a start. You must think about the long-term and create a holistic plan with timely goals.

Establishing timelines and objectives makes it easy to measure an employee’s progress and fine-tune your tactics for better outcomes.

When it comes to planning for the long term, you must consider the prep work, execution, and follow-up for a training program. Also, ensure that employees understand the benefits you expect for the company by investing in their development.

It is the best way to ensure the success of your IDPs.

9. Evaluate and define a distinct career track

It is important to be aware of your options before you begin to look for exciting careers that pay well.

This includes determining which industries are a good fit for you, as well as the positions and companies accessible in those industries.

You can start by job shadowing other employees in your firm to gain knowledge about various jobs. This can also help you expand your skills and add value to your current job.

A good employee strives for more than just excellence in their current job. They want to know that there is room for advancement in their career with your firm.

As a result, it’s critical to lay out a defined career path for each of your employees—a process known as talent mapping.

10.  Create a plan of action

You may feel aimless without a plan, and you will have no yardstick against which to measure your growth.

Once you’ve identified employees who are ready for career advancement, you can develop an action plan that aligns their personal and professional goals with the objectives of your firm.

To ensure the best development opportunities, focus on one-on-one partnerships with individual employees and their supervisors.

11. Be certain that your employee development plan is flexible and adaptive

One of the best practices of an employee career development plan is to ensure that your career development programmes successfully manage the competing needs for structure and flexibility.

Each of your employees does have a unique set of skills and experience. They also have distinct and different priorities for their own career development.

While there are many careers that make a difference in people’s lives, it is important to identify and integrate areas that require flexibility in developing an employee career development plan.

The point is to tailor your learning and development programmes so that employees can gain actionable information while remaining flexible enough to apply it to their own unique career plans.

It is strongly advised that you consult with as many employees as possible about their preferred ways of learning.

Provide a variety of options, such as participatory online content and in-person sessions, so that each employee can select the method that works best for them.

12.  Emphasize the significance of feedback

Good leaders usually involve their employees in the goal-setting process.

If you want them to be driven and enthusiastic about the goal, you must first gain their buy-in, while also gaining their sense of responsibility over the goal and the authority to see it through.

Your primary role in any discussions with employees about their goals is to act as a support figure and mediator.

Make sure employees know they are responsible to someone other than themselves when it comes to setting and achieving career-development goals, whether it is a monthly session with their manager, a peer-led group where everyone reports on their progress, or some other form of accountability.

13.  Results and achievements should be monitored and tracked

When it comes to developing people, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution.

To know how to make your employees more productive, evaluate different methods for various employees.

Take the time to assess the results of your efforts and devise a plan to address any issues that arise.

Meet with employees on a regular basis to see how things are going and to solicit feedback on what they’d like more (or even less) of.

Speak with their line supervisors to see whether the employees’ performance is better and the training plan is effective.

Make sure your company has a team or individual tasked with monitoring the progress of the employee development plan.

If your company is small and cannot afford a full-time employee development professional, HR professionals can assist, and so can managers when they report on levels of productivity or team accomplishments.

It takes a lot of effort to work toward your goals and learn new skills. Remember to celebrate your successes!

14.  Achievement should be rewarded and acknowledged

When an employee career development program starts, the emphasis naturally shifts to planning maintenance and administration.

As progress is being made, it is important to remember that people need affirmation that they are on the right track and heading in the right direction, as this can increase their confidence, level of interest, and commitment.

And most people appreciate having their efforts and accomplishments acknowledged.

So, throughout the programme, acknowledge their efforts and highlight their achievements.

These efforts will help to motivate the programme, encourage participation, and boost overall organisational support.

Achievement may not always take the form of a promotion or other public accomplishment, based on the employee’s target.

It is critical to find ways of identifying and celebrating various milestones.

Employees could track their progress and earn badges based on the amount of time spent on development, the qualifications or proficiency levels attained, or some other measurement system. Peer support and appraisal systems can also be used to acknowledge accomplishments.

15.  Launching a mentoring programme

Creating a formal mentoring programme may be one of the best steps a company can make at any time, both for its own and its employees’ personal and professional development.

The key value is that mentorship programmes help employees advance in their careers.

They allow career talent and high potential to receive practical advice from someone who has already landed their dream career.

Individuals who have previously worked for the firm will be familiar with the brand’s culture, values, and employee expectations, making the mentor an ideal fit for addressing questions and providing crucial advice to the trainee.

Learning by doing enables employees to understand their responsibilities at work.

Mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship.

Senior employees can provide hard-earned insight and understanding and professional guidance to less-experienced colleagues.

They can also benefit from the unique perspectives and technological know-how of new employees. Don’t underestimate the importance of business knowledge anybody may have to share.


Individual development should be a part of employee growth and retention strategy, whether you run a small business or a large enterprise. This will help you to be able to identify top talents in your organization.

But implementing it should not be a struggle. You only need to understand how employee development works and which elements to cover to align the plan with your business objectives.

Follow these best practices for an employee career development plan to help each employee reach their career goals while giving their best to the organization.

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Post Author: Explicit Success

Explicit Success is a place you can get some impetus and at the same time, get some relaxation. The articles you’ll find here have a lot of anecdotes you can relate to, which will help you to feel good about yourself and achieve success. Connect with our Team Lead on Instagram @abimbolajoe.

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