8 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 the daily processes and pursuing long-term goals.

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

An individual 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 individual development plan for your employees.

1. Connect training to goals

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 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 taking action against supervisors who fail to meet expectations.

5. Talk to your employees

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 is 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.


Individual development should be a part of employee growth and retention strategy, whether you run a small business or a large enterprise.

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 to help each employee reach their career goals while giving their best to the organization.

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Post Author: Abimbola Joseph

Abimbola Joseph is a creative content developer who derives pleasure in encouraging individuals to be the best they can be in all relevant facets of life. She believes that we all have a better version of ourselves which can be leveraged to impact others and make the world a better place. Connect with me on Instagram @abimbolajoe.

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