Employee Development Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own

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Last updated:
January 10, 2022
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7 minutes
Simple examples of employee development plans to inspire your own. Help your people grow every day.

In People Ops, juggling tasks and investing your your time and energy in the right resources is always a challenge. Given the plethora of tools available, it’s easy to get swayed by the next big thing that promises you higher employee retention.

However, not every measure is the right fit for your organization. 

Whether you’re a startup of 50 or an enterprise of 2000, your people are at the forefront of your organization. And if there’s one thing that guarantees a successful business, it’s investing in your employees' career growth. 

One of the easiest ways to strengthen your employees’ performance is to create an employee development plan. This is a great practice for your entire company as it reflects your motivation to help them grow professionally within your organization. 

Below are some examples of employee development plans that you can learn from.

We'll go through what they do well - and how they can improve.

In the end, we'll share our development plan template that you can copy right away.

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Basic Employee development template (Indeed)

Creating a basic wireframe of your development plan is a good way to kickstart this program. Here is a sample template taken from the career website Indeed.

Basic template from Indeed containing name, date, title, strengths, etc.

While it’s basic and not specialized for a role or even an industry, it guides you to think in the right direction.

What it does well What could be improved

+ Not overly complex

+ Contains concrete actions

- No cycle deadline

- Actions not per goal

Start with listing the strengths, needs, and professional goals of each employee. This creates an opportunity for you to spend 1:1 time interviewing your employees, and build a development plan that aligns with their expectations. 

Next, create an actionable list of steps they need to take to grow in their current roles. This is a great practice to gain foresight into how your company and each department will scale in the months and years to come.

The biggest advantage of this template is that it’s a blank slate and gives you the freedom to customize it. At the same time, it comes with a drawback. You need to closely follow each employee’s progress to be familiar with their strengths, weaknesses, and desires for their future careers.

As aforementioned, this is only a wireframe of your development plan that can easily be created in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. As you’ll see in a minute, you can add as many fields of your choice to the basic concept, while retaining its main purpose.

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Employee development plan for company growth (Slideteam)

Similar to the previous example, here’s another template from Slideteam – one that can be used across different industries and roles.

Example of a development plan at Slideteam

This is a great example of a development plan best suitable for a junior accountant role. One of the key highlights of this plan is that it has a section for estimated costs.

What it does well What could be improved

+ Adds "costs" dimension

+ Adds manager notes for transparency

- Doesn't connect goals to actions

- One overall deadline instead of smaller milestones

The benefits of this template are twofold. First of all, it gives you an overview on how much cost needs to be allocated per employee.. On the other hand, your employees will know from the start that you’re willing to invest in them - they can see cold, hard numbers rather than promises you make.

At the very end, there’s a section for manager notes. As hard as we might try, we often cannot categorize and label all of our employees. This section gives you some room to leave additional notes for individual employees. This helps you to create a better employee development plan suitable for their needs.

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Career development plan with comments (Lumenlearning)

Here is another great employee development plan by Lumenlearning, complete with manager notes:

employee development plan example by lumenlearning

This development plan spans over two years and has comments from the manager related to the assessment of their employees’ skills as well as specific plans for the future.

In this plan, you can see the manager taking care of external training in the form of courses and degrees, as well as internal training through one-on-one mentorship.

What it does well What could be improved

+ Contains costs, manager notes

- Doesn't connect goals to actions

- Goals could be more concrete and connected to outcomes

One thing that sets this template apart compared to the previous ones is that it has accountability for both – the employee and the manager. While the manager is in charge of designing the development plan and choosing the right activities, the employees are given the responsibility to create their own timeline to complete the assigned tasks..

This is a great way to present the potential of career development to your employees. Through this, they can see the possibilities for the development of their role. At the same time, they can realize that the success of this plan largely depends on their own willingness and hard work. This is strengthened by the fact that this is a long-term, two-year development plan and not a short-term initiative.

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4. Skill-based development plan (Devskiller)

The examples we shared above, all focus on the bigger picture: the soft and technical skills as well as the necessary training to develop an employee’s career. However, you don’t have to go into such depth if you plan to develop skills by yourself.

Here is an example of such an employee development plan from Devskiller:

The plan is quite simple: managers list their employees’ skills and grade them on a scale from 0-10. Parallel to this, there is a desired state that the manager expects from the employee to advance in their careers and within the company.

What it does well What could be improved

+ Based on skill assessment & competency profiles

- Doesn't connect goals to actions

- Rather skill matrix than development plan

The ‘section in the middle is the ‘Gap’ they need to fill in order to advance in their careers. On the far right, there are specific actions that they need to take to achieve their goals.

To make this example more impactful, we suggest dividing your employees’ skills into different groups and for each skill, assigning a specific action that they need to take.

One important thing to note here is that your skill-focused development plan shouldn't be based only on the managers’ assessment of their employees’ skills. But also consider your employees’ self-assessment in order to get more accurate results, and to prepare an effective development plan.

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Side-by-side development plan (Smartinsights)

Here is another example of a detailed development plan by Smartinsights:

Example of a side-by-side development plan at smartinsights

One thing that sets this plan apart is that it has two sections: one for the employee and another for the manager. On the far left side, the employee can give their own assessment of their current goals and options, and a way to accomplish all of them.. Most importantly, they have the freedom to choose how they want to report progress to their managers.

What it does well What could be improved

+ Very extensive/in-depth

+ Combines both perspectives well

- Creates overwhelm

- Doesn't connect skills and actions

To the right, the manager can leave comments on the employee’s input. At the very top, you can see them comparing the professional goals of the employee with the business goals and needs of the company. There are also comments for each of the subsequent sections.

Having these two sections in one place gives a clear overview of the two different perspectives. You can easily see if the employees’ goals and desires align with the overall company goals. Moreover, it helps you understand whether the self-assessment of the employee is objective or not.

Last but not least, this employee development plan has a section where an employee can report their progress to the manager. The manager can then give an overall assessment of their entire progress in the final review section.

Overall, this is a perfect example if you’re looking for a template that makes the employee and their manager equally responsible for planning and execution.

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Professional development plan (University of Wisconsin)

You don’t have to be employed to create an employee development plan. This example from the University of Wisconsin shows you just that:

personal or professional development plan at university of wisconsin

It’s a given that today’s students will make tomorrow’s workforce. And, having a development gives them a head start to their first job. This example lists specific needs and the ways to solve them, with one main goal - making themselves more employable and honing their skills.

What it does well What could be improved

+ Combines goals and actions

+ Easy to read

- Neglects manager perspective

- Neglects budgets

What’s interesting here is that you can implement this template just as easily in your own company. In the image above, the student is the one who is responsible for doing all the training. While in your case, you can assign tasks to different mentors, external partners, program managers, etc.

If you have an internship program and you’re training your interns for a full-time job, this is the plan you would want to use.

Wrapping up

If there’s one thing that you can learn from these great employee development plan examples is - they don’t have to be complex to work. All it takes is developing a wireframe in Google Docs and creating a structure that guides people through.

People are busy. And while everybody values (and demands) ongoing development support, it's not always easy to follow through.

That's why your development strategy should go beyond merely setting up plans people might not use - and help them actually grow.

When you do this, not only will you see outstanding growth, but you will also be able to retain and engage your top talent. And this is exactly what we, at Zavvy, enable you to excel at – with our Employee Development Solution.

Our experts would love to hear from you, and help you get started with your customized development program.


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