Learn how to draft a staff development plan that is specific to your business. Find out what makes these plans work, what causes them to fail and how to avoid the pitfalls.
Getting Everyone Onboard
A chart -- or table -- that tracks personnel development, benchmark adherence and goal-setting is a must for any company with even a small staff. It is patently useful for the human resources manager who ensures proper documentation of personnel files with respect to merit increases, bonus payments or disciplinary actions.
It is also extremely useful for the supervisor or manager who takes coaching of staff members quite seriously. Seeing the workforce as a growing, changing, maturing and goal-reaching entity, the business that invests time and energy in staff development actually invests in the company’s growth.
A staff development plan fulfills three basic functions:
- Encourages personal development of employees
- Directs professional development of workers
- Enables business advancement
The personal development aspect frequently gets lost in the shuffle, but a supervisor who knows how to connect a worker’s professional development to a personal sense of pride successfully helps to grow the employee as a person. The professional growth goes hand in hand with the company’s mission statement, as outlined by the Greenfield Community College(1), and training materials that employees need to master.
Tapping into individual workers’ strengths and emerging leadership skills – or perhaps cross-training abilities – enhances flexibility and the ability to draw on more workers to get jobs done. As a result, the company is better able to maneuver quickly to fill big orders, train new representatives or ensure compliance in a volatile field of industry.
Makeup of a Successful Development Plan
Putting together a plan that works relies on the clarity with which the HR department communicates the goals, as well as on the ease with which they can be connected to the company’s mission statement. A well-designed plan includes:
- Company mission statement
- Definition of benchmarks
- Steps to reaching goals
- Explanation of plan follow-through
In addition, the employees and also supervisors must have an outlet for voicing frustrations and making themselves heard. A good option is the (anonymous) suggestion box.
Putting It All Together
The theory of a staff development plan sounds simple. The practical application differs, depending on the company, the industry in which it operates, the management structure and also the number of staff members. That said, here is a sample development plan:
- The company is in the office supplies business. Its mission statement reads: “To serve consumers with knowledge, skill and a friendly attitude."
- Benchmarks included in its staff development plan highlight product knowledge, development of people skills, development of clear communication skills and a workforce trained to operate the phone system and computerized inventory.
The development plan breaks down benchmarks into bite-sized goals. For example, product knowledge is achieved by individual workers through watching brief product-related videos in the break room. Workers choose when to do so, which videos to watch and then chart their progress on an easily accessible charting system.
- Shift supervisors track the chart, issue appropriate quizzes or engage in a brief Q&A and then recognize the staff members' achievements in the weekly company newsletter. The operations manager schedules training sessions for the other benchmarks.
- Employees voice their opinions - anonymously - over training sessions, scheduling or any other issues related to the plan. The human resources supervisor checks the suggestion box weekly, evaluates the responses and acts on them.
Common Staff Development Plan Pitfalls
The most serious mistake is the overwhelming of new staff members. It is easy to include too much of must-know material in a training session. Yet if you consider that even cable company call center employees now have to make it through two or even three weeks of training before ever hitting the phones, it is clear that there is a serious information overload. Keep initial training succinct, to the point and offer just enough information for the worker to get a broad understanding of the operations and job duties.
Another problem is the invalidation of a development plan by changing the way business is done too often. While changes need to occur to keep a company competitive, there are businesses that change weekly or monthly, which more or less makes a development plan void. If a business operates in an industry that demands this type of adaptability, it is vital to devise a plan that highlights the few constants in the business, such as people skills or customer service.
Remember that a staff development plan demands successful cooperation between a number of departments. While one department is in charge of putting the plan together – usually this is the human resources department – all other departments must have input as well.
- “Worker" by Wilfredor/Wikimedia Commons at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Worker_icon.svg
- “Chart" by TAUser/Wikimedia Commons at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ThroughputStructure.jpg
Employee Disciplinary Actions
What does it take to effectively discipline a workforce? Is it possible to be lawsuit-proof while concurrently weeding out ineffective workers? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’ – if you know the steps to take.
- Best Practices Regarding Employee Discipline
- Tips for Tracking Personnel Development
- Drafting an Employee Attendance Policy
- Guide to Drafting a Business Dress Code Policy
- Employee Letter of Reprimand: Free Example to Download