Action plan for employee development is cardinal for the existence of every organization as it provides a course of thought and action for both employees and management. This involves a well knitted goal setting process for employees which results in their development.
Employee development action plan involves the thought process of paving the career development path of our employees. Identifying the needs for employee development, pointing out the weak areas and laying out a strategic plan for improvement are the stages of designing an action plan for employee development.
Strategic action plan for employee development
Every process in the organization should certainly support the organizational strategies. Strategies are the action plans to achieve the goals. Successful organizations have strong strategic support from all their resources including the human resource or the human capital. Thus, the development needs of employees are also addressed under the same shade; aligning their personal goals with the organizational goals.
If you are a shampoo company, your goal is to make shampoos according to customer needs, maximize your sales and become a market leader in shampoo industry. Your manufacturing department will support this company goal by developing strong skills of employees in manufacturing area. Your sales department will polish the selling skills of its employees. So, every department works to achieve the goal of the organization to be the market leader. But in order to be there, you need an individual development plan for employees so that everyone focuses on his individual growth which eventually leads to the growth of organization. In this ideal case, everyone is aware of his role in the goal achievement. Every employee is supporting the organizational strategies. Therefore, the action plan for employee development must be strategic i.e. design this process to support the organizational goals and success.
Approaches to employee development
Types of action plans for employee development
Action plan for employee development follows different approaches. As a routine approach, companies formulate one general plan for all employees. This involves training and developing all employees in the same areas, regardless of their needs. This approach is an obsolete approach as it does not take into account the individual needs of employees.
There are three types of approaches to employee development.
On the basis of the performance of employees, management develops and promotes the employees.
One way of creating an action plan for employee development is through employee succession planning which involves the identification of the potential employees who can replace the existing employees. The vacancies in these cases are created as a result of resignations or retirements. These vacant posts are filled by promoting the internal human capital of the company. So, management develops the skills of potential candidates keeping these expectations in mind.
Results based- The best action plan for employee development
Management by Objectives (MBO)
Management by objectives is so far the best approach to set goals for employees and helping them develop. This involves following a strategic action plan for employee development. Due to this, it has 95% success rate, both for employees and the organizations.
We define Management by Objectives as:
“The strategic goal setting for employees which involves both managers and employees, tailoring the plan for the needs of each employee, measuring the performance against benchmarks and ensuring a continuous feedback by the managers to align employee goals with organizational goals”.
MBO was first introduced by Peter Drucker in 1954 as a results oriented approach for employee performance and development. It involves the assessment of employee performance or results in comparison to the preset standards. The best part of this approach is involvement and willingness of the employee himself in the whole process so he is more focused and excited to deliver the best for the organization. As he sees his company supporting his career development so he is willing to stay with it for long-term.
Goal setting in management by objectives
This MBO goal setting process has the following distinct features:
- Manager sits with employee and they discuss the weak areas for improvement and the strong areas for development of the employee.
- Manager clearly communicates preset standards of performance to the employee so he gets a clear idea of what to achieve.
- Best approach is to formulate objectives which are usually more focused and short-term.
- Manager furthermore discusses the strategies to achieve the goals and completely guides the employee.
- The interests and suggestions of employee are welcomed.
- MBO plans are flexible and there is room for future changes.
Qualities of ideal goals
Ideal goals are considered as the smart goals where smart goals are the specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound goals.
S – Goals should be specific, not general
M – Measurable i.e. results could be measured against some pre-set benchmarks
A – Attainable or achievable, not something which cannot be achieved
R – Realistic, not hypothetical
T – Time- bound; covering some fixed amount of time, usually short-term goals
Example of a SMART goal
You work in a shampoo manufacturing company with a goal already explained above i.e. “make shampoos according to the customer demands, maximize your sales and become a market leader in shampoo industry”. The vision here is to become market leader in the industry. Hence, it is a very broad goal which includes no information about the time period in which you have to achieve this goal. Also, it does not specify any strategies to become the market leader. Therefore, nothing is clear from this very broad scope goal.
The time and percentage of increase in sales clearly communicates to employees how do they have to develop and show the required performance. It also guides the managers that in which direction they have to develop employees and against which standards they have to measure the employee performance.
How to develop employees?
Employee development areas can be identified in two ways:
- Manager observes employee performance and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of employees.
- Manager meets employees for goal setting and discuss possible areas of improvement. He furthermore encourages inputs from the employee.
After identifying employee development areas, manager and employee mutually decide upon the ways to develop the employee. This depends upon the type of skills required and the potential of employee.
The methods employed can be:
- On the job training
- Classroom training
Mentoring is an on going activity in which one more knowledgeable person (mentor) delivers his knowledge to the person with less knowledge (mentee). This mentor could be anyone, not necessarily the immediate manager. Usually mentoring focuses on the long-term development of employees where their mentor shares the tips and techniques to improve their performance at work. My another rich article on the detailed mentoring program will provide you valuable insights.
Coaching is a more focused and targeted activity. It is short-term and just focused on developing specific skills in employees. So, once those skills are sown and grown, coach is no longer needed. For example, if your employees need better marketing and selling skills for increasing the shampoo sales, you need a coach for them to improve these skills.
On the job training
On the job training (OJT) is helpful when it is not possible to teach the specific components of a job outside the job. For example, computer based jobs require practicing the use of computer on the job. This is a good way to develop employees by teaching them to cope with job related factors in real.
This method usually goes side by side with other methods. This is a very good way to develop employees as teaching them specific skills with other employees creates a positive, competitive environment for growth. It is a dynamic way to develop employees in short time by using a combination of theory, practical tasks and media.
This is a relatively developing but highly effective method which good companies are employing for employee development. After identifying employee development areas, companies enroll them in some great electronic or non electronic courses. These courses teach the latest industrial practices to employees thus, helping in their career development on a large scale.
Goal’s communication to employees
It is essential to communicate the goals to employees at all levels. As a result, employees can align their goals in the best manner with the vision of organization. If the goal setting process involves the employees, then the goal setting phase already covers the communication phase of goals. Employees already know what the company expects from them.
This also involves clear communication of all the available resources to the employees. Consequently, they know how much inputs they need to feed at each level.
Re-check and re-design
A good action plan for employee development has flexibility. It has the room for redesigning at any stage according to the needs and available resources. Employees have the liberty to modify their goals and development plan with their managers. A smart action plan for employee development requires the full commitment and willingness of employees as defined in MBO approach. The most noteworthy requirement has to be kept in mind that we are developing these goals to help the employees grow in their career.
Implementation of action plan for employee development
Action plan for employee development does not involve implementation. It involves laying out the plan so well that implementation becomes an easy job. It points out the possible actions to take for effective employee development. So, make sure you re-check periodically the progress of employees and the status of the plan execution as they might be demanding some changes in the action plan for employee development.