4 essential elements of a development plan for new hires
When they’re mulling over whether or not to stay with a particular company, the training and development opportunities on offer are a major consideration for employees. This is especially the case for Millenials - with one study showing that 87% of employees in this group regard development and growth as very important to their decisions to stay or go.
To facilitate an employee’s development, you need a workable plan; one that reflects what’s possible, that’s feasible - and that meets the needs and expectations of both your company and your employee. As you put together your plans, here’s a rundown of what to cover…
Establish what your employees are looking for
Most employees appreciate the opportunity to develop and progress. It’s just that we all have our own ideas on how we want to grow and what form that development should take.
So don’t assume that your employee necessarily wants to follow the “standard” progression route. So far as your employee is concerned, the development plan needs to take into account the following:
Strengths & weaknesses
Wider life goals
Management of expectations
If you can showcase the type of development opportunities you are able to offer in a compelling way (through employee stories for instance), this can prove to be an extremely valuable element of your employer brand.
That said, it’s important to be realistic about what’s on offer! Lead your new employees to believe that promotion to management is an inevitability – or that you’ll part-fund an MBA, new starters will inevitably become disengaged if they find out that this isn’t actually the case.
Define what you need - and what you can offer employees
As a starting point for your development plans, look carefully at your organisational needs. Key considerations may include the following:
Homegrown talent nurturing. You intend to ‘grow your own’ next generation of management/senior staff from your current/ upcoming cohort of junior employees.
Flexibility. From an organisational perspective, and especially in uncertain market conditions or where needs tend to fluctuate, it can be beneficial if staff can switch between departments and roles.
Growing with your company. If it’s your intention to expand your customer base or product offering, niche, what specific new skills will you need to bring into the organisation? New language skills are another example (e.g. where geographical expansion is on the cards).
Your organisational needs can then inform the type of initiatives you can offer. For instance, if you are following a strategy of developing your next generation of managerial staff internally, a formal training programme might be in order. For expanding employees’ skillsets, you may wish to offer the opportunity to take up formal qualifications. Less structured development initiatives might be part of the mix, too – such as the chance to shadow managers and learn the ropes in different departments.
Feasibility and flexibility
Employees value feedback (whether positive or negative)- and four out of 10 of us become disengaged if it’s not offered. Your development plan and appraisal process should be closely intertwined; i.e. you should continually assess whether it’s on track – and what needs to be done to iron out any difficulties employees may be experiencing.
Linked to this, the plan should also be flexible enough to change. It may be, for instance, that an employee develops new interests or discovers something new that they are usefully talented at. Your plans should be flexible enough to meet these new circumstances.
If you have avoided 'over-promising' and put together a plan that reflects what's possible while meeting the developmental goals of employees, you're on the right track!