How to Create Competency and Career Development Plans | Steps + Free Template
Companies want to keep reducing the skill gap, and employees love companies that help them polish their skills.
Case in point: 76% of employees are likelier to stay with companies offering continuous training.
A competency and career development plan is the best blend of expectations of both employees and employers. More than just HR jargon, these plans are the lighthouses guiding employees through the fog of professional uncertainty. They're not just about reaching the next role but genuinely understanding and mastering the journey.
This article will:
- Break down what a competency and career development plan is.
- The HR processes that can enable this type of plan in your organization (think mapping competencies and career paths).
- How you can fill in competency and career development plans with your people (from scratch or using our templates).
- If you stay till the end, you also get tips to motivate employees to follow through with their plans.
🔝 What is a competency and career development plan?
A competency and career development plan is a structured approach that outlines an individual's skills, knowledge, and behaviors required for their current and future roles, combined with a roadmap for professional growth and progression within an organization. It emphasizes enhancing current competencies and acquiring new ones, ensuring alignment with career aspirations and organizational needs.
A competency and career development plan is a blueprint that helps an employee grow in their careers by acquiring the required skills. This learning and development plan shows what skills employees need to excel in their current or future roles. It also helps companies as they constantly look for skilled employees.
❗️3 Steps to complete before creating a competency and career development plan
Define career maps
A career map shows various milestones for an individual's growth in an organization or department.
For instance, the example below is a sample career path for an entry-level sales manager.
You can create career maps before talking to employees about their career goals. This way, they already know what growth in the organization looks like. It will help them set the right goals.
💡 Tip: Use our detailed guide to create career progression frameworks. It outlines ten simple steps for creating career maps, best practices from experts, and samples for reference.
Complete competency mapping for each role
The next step is to define what competencies are needed for each role.
The advantage of competency maps is that when an employee says they are interested in a particular role, you already know the competencies they must develop. You can assign a development plan for those competencies.
💡 Check out our latest post to learn how to conduct competency mapping. Also, get a competency mapping template to get started.
Conduct skill-gap analysis
The last step is to conduct a skill-gap analysis and find what skills your organization needs. This step will help you motivate employees in the right direction.
For example, if your skill gap analysis shows you need more senior web developers experienced in Angular JS. Then, you can share this information with junior web developers and motivate them to learn Angular JS. As a result, junior web developers also get an opportunity to grow/upskill, and you can avoid a potential skill gap.
💡 Discover steps, best practices, and a template to conduct skill-gap analysis.
✍️ How to fill in a competency and career development plan
By completing prerequisites, you have the base data to begin. Now, you can create a competency and career development plan in below 3 steps.
Find employee aspirations
The first step is to find out what employees' career aspirations are.
For this, you can conduct a career development survey. This survey helps employees to do a self-assessment of their strengths/weaknesses and also outline their goals.
Nihan Colak Erol, COO of Wingie, highlights the importance of this step. She says involving employees helps to create personalized and actionable plans.
Feel free to use the template below for the survey.
💡 Tip: Verify employees have access to career paths before sharing the survey.
Completing competency profiling
The next step is to assess where the employees currently stand. Competency profiling is evaluating the competencies of an employee. It's more like getting a current status to plan further learning.
You can do this exercise for the must-have competencies (core and technical) of the current role and the future role employees wish to pursue. The list of competencies will be available in competency maps created for each position.
💡 Tip: We have already written a comprehensive guide on how to complete competency profiling. You can use it to conduct competency profiling for your employees.
Creating a competency and career plan
Now, it's time to work on the plan. But what to write in competency and career development plan?
The main components are:
- employee's short-term and long-term goals;
- competency profile showing where they are currently at and where they need to be;
- action items for developing each competency;
- check-in frequency to get status on action items
- budget for any learning activities.
Have a one-on-one meeting with employees and mutually decide the action items.
💡 Tip#1: Jo Taylor, MD of HR Consultancy Let's Talk Talent, suggests keeping a healthy mix of action items: networking, mentoring, stretch assignments, coaching, and formal training.
💡 Tip#2: Give employees a fair idea of organizational priorities based on the skill-gap analysis you did.
For instance, your organization is looking for subject matter experts in a particular technology. Then, employees can aim to acquire that skill.
Or suppose a specific technology is becoming obsolete. In that case, your people deserve to know the complete picture to plan to upskill.
Now, that's a lot of theory to begin with. You can quickly head to the next section to see how to put all this theory into action.
📝 Competency and career development plan examples and template
We researched and compiled three templates for you: Basic to advanced. So, you can simply plug and play.
🛠 Basic employee development plan template (LinkedIn)
This development template by LinkedIn is an excellent template to get started if you are preparing your first career and competency development plan.
It is a basic template and gives a quick summary of:
- career goals of an employee;
- existing skills;
- action items to meet career goals;
- feedback pointers.
🛠 Competency-based development plan template (Coursera)
The competency-based development plan by Coursera is one step ahead of the professional development plan by LinkedIn. It focuses more on competencies and covers:
- Career goals of an employee
- Skill audit
- Action plan to develop skills
- Necessary resources.
🛠 Competency and Career development plan template (Zavvy)
Based on our research, we found a few gaps in existing templates. Most templates were prepared only from the employee's point of view. So, they lacked the employer side of budget, approvals, and more.
We compiled employee and employer requirements and prepared this competency and career development plan template.
Our template covers:
- career goals
- skills audits
- development tasks
- necessary approvals
- check-in frequency and feedback.
You can use this template to give employees a complete picture and track the logistics.
🤩 7 Strategies to motivate employees to take ownership of their career development plans
How can you ensure these development plans are not just another task staying last on an employee's task list? These 7 tips will help.
One way to motivate employees is to check in with them regularly. Trevor Ewen, COO at QBench, says this works especially well for ambitious employees with high intrinsic motivation. This meeting helps them provide a platform to discuss their progress. Also, managers can guide them on how to proceed next and help them if they are stuck anywhere.
➡️ Discover 11 coaching skills that help managers conduct career discussions better.
Allocate time for professional growth
Another great way to motivate employees to work on development plans is to give them dedicated time for learning. For instance, LinkedIn gives InDay to employees to have reserved time for learning and skill enhancement.
Offer continuous learning and development opportunities
A good tip to promote learning is to empower employees with resources.
For example, Accenture provides a portal with courses from internal experts, external providers, and universities.
These resources/opportunities need not be limited to formal training. It can also be social learning by coaching programs or networking events.
Offer rewards for learning
Giving rewards or recognition for learning creates a sense of achievement in employees. Some of the best companies adopt this strategy.
At Zappos, employees receive rewards for having a hunger for growth and development.
Integrate career development into performance reviews
Merging performance reviews and development programs ensures employees work towards more strategic goals. It promotes learning and fast-track the growth of employees. Companies like Spotify and Cisco have strategically made career development planning integral to performance reviews.
➡️ Conduct 1:1 meetings easily by using templates. Get templates for conducting performance reviews, goal setting, coaching calls, and more.
Offer concrete benefits
Lastly, reward points and bonuses are motivating up to a point. Ultimately, employees seek something substantial like pay raises, promotions, and exciting assignments.
When skill development is integrated into promotions and appraisals, employees know the long-term benefit of working on their development plan. It not only helps employees but also companies in numerous ways.
Deloitte's study found companies adapting to skill-based models observed a positive effect on retention, engagement, and efficiency.
Cultivate a culture of ongoing learning
Building a learning culture inspires employees to invest in learning and innovation.
Let's take Microsoft as an example. Microsoft tries to instill a growth mindset in employees. It motivates employees to aspire higher.
➡️ Drive competency and career development with Zavvy
Hard truth: Building a competency and career development plan is a huge process. It comes with prerequisites, multiple steps, and follow-ups.
At Zavvy, we are building an end-to-end solution for companies to build an entire competency management system.
Using Zavvy, you can:
1. Define career maps across roles so employees have transparency in their growth.
Bonus: There are also inbuilt templates that you can reuse to build these maps.
2. Describe competencies for every role for better clarity on expectations.
3. Conduct a career development survey.
4. Build a skill matrix with the employee's current and expected skill set.
5. Create a competency and career development plan for their growth.
You don't have to start from a blank page. Our AI-enabled growth plan feature will give you a base plan to get started.
6. Keep a tab on employee development with performance evaluations.
Employees can get feedback from managers and peers on skills with Zavvy's 360 feedback feature.
📅 Help your employees to grow strategically and reduce skill gaps. Book a demo with one of our experts today.
What tools can help in mapping competencies to career paths?
Zavvy has a huge library of competencies. You can map which competencies are required for which role by referencing the list. Further, you can also define what each competency means for the role. For example, the communication competency could mean communicating with diverse team groups for a project manager. On the other hand, for a junior marketer, the communication competency could mean clear messaging in marketing campaigns.
Zavvy also has an in-built AI functionality that generated competency-based career paths with just a few clicks. Input the role name, decide between an individual contributor or leadership paths, add the number of seniority levels, and the AI will do the mapping for you. (Bonus: You can even select from several languages for your competency frameworks.)
What are the 5 components of a career development plan?
The 5-key components of a career development plan are:
- employee's long-term and short-term goals;
- current and expected skill set;
- action items for growth;
- check-in frequency and feedback;
- additional contributors (e.g., mentors, supervisors).
Can the same competency framework be applied to all roles and levels in an organization?
No, every role demands a different set of skills and behavior traits. So, competency mapping has to be done for every role. It outlines what core or functional competencies an employee needs to perform that role.
What's the role of managers and mentors in a competency and career development plan?
A manager or a mentor keeps track of all action items in an employee's competency and career development plan. They provide any necessary guidance and help them prioritize the action items. In some cases, they also help get the required resources and budgets.
For example, the manager can help facilitate a task requiring shadowing another team member. If a course needs budget approval, the manager can affirm the need so the employee gets the required reimbursement.