Finding a skilled employee who fits the job requirements and your company culture is one thing; keeping that employee is another. As a manager, keeping great employees happy (and on your payroll) should be one of your top priorities.

The key to individual happiness and success is to invest. After all, if you commit your time and resources to develop your employees, they’ll do the same for you and your company.

Having a well-thought-out plan for employee development is essential for driving both individual and company-wide success. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a manager who’s completely confident in their employee development program or efforts.

What if you train employees and they leave, you ask? Well, what if you don’t train them and they stay for the long-term?

To ensure your employees are satisfied and performing at their very best, here are four steps to happier, well-trained employees:

Step 1: Assess Individual and Company Goals

The single most important step in creating an employee development plan is to assess and align individual and company goals. By establishing where the employee and the company need to be, in so many months or years, you can better determine how to get there.

Start by meeting with employees as a whole and as individuals, on a quarterly basis; waiting until the end of the year to discuss goals, during an annual performance review, just isn’t going to cut it. Regularly updating and communicating company-wide goals will help employees better tailor their own work goals, to help achieve the company vision.

Consider also meeting with individual employees for a performance “check-in,” once every quarter. Take this time to discuss goal progress and tweak old goals or develop new ones, as necessary.

employee developmentSMART Goals

Employees will appreciate the fact that you took the time to meet with them individually, and doing so will ensure goals remain SMART:

  • Specific 
  • Measurable 
  • Achievable 
  • Realistic
  • Timely 

Step 2: Identify Development Needs

Once you’ve assessed individual goals and aligned them with the company vision, it’s time to identify areas for improvement or strengthening. Follow this checklist to identify individual and company-wide training needs:

  • Review company and individual goals and objectives
  • Monitor individual performance, to identify potential problem areas
  • Identify skills/knowledge gaps within the organization
  • Decide what skills are needed, to move your business forward
  • Elicit feedback from customers, managers, etc.
  • Determine and prepare for any future changes

Looking at all levels of your business, from individual to overall performance and progress, can help you better determine and prioritize your company’s training needs.  

Step 3: Develop an Action Plan

Goals have been set and skills gaps have been identified; now it’s time to take action. Employee development can include anything and everything, from formal training programs to one-on-one coaching and mentoring to lunch-and-learns and other professional development events.

You’ll need to consider a number of things before you can put your plan into place, such as who can benefit from this training, how long the training will take, if employees will need to take time off of work to participate in the training opportunity, how you’ll determine it’s success, etc.

Once you’ve identified specific learning and training opportunities, and how they’ll affect day-to-day activities, create a plan that aligns with both individual needs and business objectives. Create a schedule or calendar to keep track of employee development opportunities, as well as to encourage and excite employees.

employee developmentStep 4: Review and Repeat

This plan for employee development shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Instead, you should aim to repeat the cycle on a regular or quarterly basis. After all, goals and objectives change and, in order to keep up, employees need to be adequately prepared.

Because you’re spending a considerable amount of time (and money) helping employees develop professionally, to get the greatest return on your investment, you need to see employees’ newly developed skills in action.

So, be sure to provide opportunities for employees to apply their newly gained or polished skills, and ask for feedback. Doing so will reinforce your efforts and further refine their skills.

Conclusion

As it’s often said: Invest in your employees and they’ll invest in you. Training allows employees to sharpen their skills and advance their careers, and you get a top-of-the-line workforce, as a result. It’s a win-win for you and your staff. 


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