10 Employee Development Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own (+ Free Templates)
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.
Picture it: Your employees, thriving, engaged, and ready to conquer new challenges. That's the dream, right?
But how do you get there? How do you create a plan that works?
Given the multitude 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. That's where we come in.
We're giving you ten inspiring examples of employee development plans.
For each example, we'll go through what they do well - and how to improve them.
In the end, we'll share our development plan template that you can copy right away.
🏫 Basic employee development plan for employees 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.
While it’s basic and not specialized for a role or even an industry, this sample development plan guides you to think in the right direction.
The biggest advantage of this template is that it’s a blank slate and gives you the freedom to customize it (via Microsoft Word or Google Docs).
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.
To make it even better:
- 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.
💰 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.
This is a great example of a career 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.
There are two main benefits of this template:
- First of all, it gives you an overview on how much budget needs to be allocated per employee. This means that 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.
To make it even better:
- Create a more comprehensive follow-up process, to ensure that the employee stays on track, offer feedback, and provide additional support if they ever get stuck.
💬 Career development plan with comments (Lumenlearning)
Here is another great example of an employee development plan by Lumenlearning, complete with manager notes.
This employee 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.
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.
To make this development plan example even better:
- Use the SMART goals framework. With specific, measurable sub-tasks and a set timeframe, it is easy to measure one's professional development.
🌱 Learn how to help employees set professional development goals.
💡Plus, use these examples of developmental goals and ways to achieve them as inspiration.
🛠 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 level of detail 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. Then, there is a "Desired State" explaining what the manager expects from the employee to advance in their careers and within the company.
The "Gap" section defined what employees need to advance in their careers. The "Initiatives" section offers the specific actions that they need to take to achieve their goals.
To make this example more impactful:
- Ensure that your skill-focused development plan is not exclusively based on the managers’ assessment of employee skills (skills gap analysis).
- To achieve this, add employees’ self-assessments and even peer reviews to get more accurate results, and to prepare an effective skill-based development plan.
👥 Side-by-side development plan (Smartinsights)
Here is another example of a detailed individual development plan by Smartinsights.
The re are three elements that that set this plan apart:
- There are two sections: one for the employee and another for the manager, adding an organizational context to the employee perspective.
- There is a clear alignment between the individual career goal and the organizational needs and goals.
- There are dedicated sections for progress reporting and feedback sessions.
Having these two sections in one place gives a clear overview of the two different perspectives: individual and organizational.
For example, you understand whether the self-assessment of the employee is objective or not.
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.
🎓 Professional development plan (University of Wisconsin)
Let's analyze a new professional development plan example, this time from the University of Wisconsin.
What’s interesting here is that the employee is the one who is responsible for doing all the "development work:"
- They have to search for a peer member to shadow, rather than receiving a specific suggestion from their leader.
- They have to search for their own learning resources, rather than receiving access to a library of learning materials.
To make this even better:
- Make development planning a more collaborative task: the team leader can act as a coach and facilitator, for example by assigning tasks to mentors, providing access to training materials etc.
🅰️ Individual development plan example from Adobe
Although single on first sight, the individual development plan example from Adobe masters startegic alignment.
The first part of this plan example focuses on employee self-reflection on:
- the most satisfying part of the job;
- key skills or strengths;
- skills or strengths to further develop.
By identifying their unique strengths and skills, employees can focus on areas where they excel and build on their strengths, which can lead to increased engagement, job satisfaction, and productivity.
The plan then differentiates between short and long-term goals. This approach can help the employee prioritize their development efforts and stay on track toward their goals.
We really like that each development opportunity links to concrete action items. This will ensure that the employee has a clear roadmap to follow and understands how their development activities contribute to their professional growth. And to go one step forward, these also clearly link to business impact.
Strategic alignment between employee and company objectives mean that the employee's development efforts will also contribute to the organization's strategic priorities and goals.
📚 Learning and development plan example from Dublin City University
The learning and development plan example from Dublin City University is the most comprehensive plan example.
This plan contains sections that outline the specific what, how, when, who, and cost components of the plan, which can help to ensure that the employee and their manager are aligned in terms of expectations and goals.
We also really like the progress evaluation section is essential in a development plan. This section encourages self-reflection by asking questions such as:
- What will I do differently as a result of this experience?
- How will I continue to build on these skills?
- How can what you learn outside of work be integrated into your job to further your career?
The fact that this development plan covers multiple types of learning methods is also helpful, as this allows the employee to choose the learning method that suits them best.
The only elements we think are missing are:
- A dedicated section for manager comments.
- A lack of a clear link between development opportunities and business impact. While it's essential to develop employees' skills and competencies, it's also important to ensure that these activities aligned with the organization's strategic priorities.
📈 Performance development plan example from the University of Reading
This performance development plan example from the University of Reading presents several assets:
- It allows the employee (and any reviewer) to reflect on their past performance and identify areas for improvement. This can help the employee to set clear goals and develop a plan for achieving them.
- The tips and recommendations included in the plan can also be useful for employees who are unsure of how to proceed with their career development. These resources can provide guidance on how to set goals, identify learning opportunities, and create a plan for achieving career objectives.
- The dedicated space for achievements and recognition can serve as motivation and reminder of specific employee strengths.
To improve this performance development plan example:
- Include a space to document whether your employee's future professional goals align with the organization's goals or objectives. If the employee has aspirations that are not aligned with the organization's strategic priorities, as it may be more difficult to support their career development.
- Add a section for available development budget.
- Add a follow up section, where you can take notes during the development conversations that would happen throughout the 12 months that the plan covers.
🌱 Bonus: Employee development strategy example from MongoDB
This employee development strategy example from MongoDB showcases the 70-20-10 model of learning:
- 10% formal training
- 20% Social learning though: manager support, coaching, comparing experiences with peer
- 70% on the job learning, feedback, stretch-assignments.
You can also use the 70-20-10 model for employee development planning, steering employees towards learning on the flow of work.
📝 Zavvy development plan templates
The easiest way to get started is by using our career development plan templates.
They combine the best of above worlds without requiring too much effort.
Get them now for free!
Option 1: 🧾 Excel-Template
Download: 🧾 Employee development plan template [Spreadsheet]
Option 2: 📄 PDF-Template
Download: 📄 Employee Development Plan Template [PDF]
➡️ Prioritize people over paper: Run employee development with Zavvy
Imagine a world where employee development is streamlined, efficient, and effective:
- A world where your development strategy goes beyond merely setting up plans people might not use.
- A world where development programs and plans actually help your people grow (and engage and retain them in the process).
That's the power of Zavvy.
No more getting lost in the paperwork shuffle.
No more wasted time.
Just seamless, easy-to-use tools that put your people first.
Your employees deserve the best. And so do you. It's time to embrace the future of employee development.
Our experts would love to hear from you. Reach out to learn how to get started with your customized Employee Development Solution.