Employee development plan Examples for employees
Boost employee performance with these new employee development plan examples
(free in fillable PDF and Excel)
Are you a business owner or department manager who wants to avoid the failure of typical employee development plans?
Or are you hampered by the cost and complexity of HR software platforms that don’t improve employee performance?
That ends now. These free employee development plan examples in fillable PDF and Excel show you a better way.
They bring together the best of aspects of career development plans, but with focus on performance improvement.
I explain how in this introductory video:
New Employee Development Plan
New employee development plan with Free Examples in PDF & Excel
Transcript coming soon!
Beyond career development plans: an EDP focused on performance
Most EDP templates are misguided career plans. Not this one.
This new employee development plan template is focused on employee development, not career planning.
The innovation here is to integrate performance improvement into the career development plan. This improves employee performance metrics to ninja levels – preventing employee from floundering and requiring intervention.
We do this by building a lean plan from a bucket of job role proficiencies.
There are several benefits to refocusing your individual development plans this way, including:
- An EDP focused on job proficiencies increases employee buy-in and engagement, because they work on factors they can control
- A plan that is job-role focused makes it easier and faster for managers to measure employee performance metrics each quarter
- Large annual plans have become an exercise in CYA for both employees and managers; this tight quarterly development plan increases focus and reduces overwhelm for both
In order for you to be confident in implementing these employee development templates, this article guides you with step-by-step instructions and screenshots.
Now you can set up an innovative employee development plan that gets ninja results and engagement.
The Free EDP Template Example is part of a complete Employee Development Plan Template Kit. Find out more here:
How to deploy these Free employee development plan examples in fillable PDF & Excel
You can use these Free employee development plan templates to model and deploy to your employees right away.
Both templates are customizable. The PDF has fillable fields and the Excel template can be fully modified to suit your organization’s needs.
Download the free EDP example templates here:
In this example Employee Development Plan for Employees (in PDF and Excel) you will discover:
Why one-size-fits-all employee development plans fail massively
Most employee development plans fail massively. The reason? Most plans are HR focused instead of employee focused.
The plans become huge, standardized HR wish lists designed to please the employer’s corporate mandates.
Instead, they should be customized to one objective: performance improvement in their job proficiencies. This focus makes it simple to build and measure the performance growth of the employee.
Many business managers and HR are confused about this objective.
They build out expansive, annual career action plans instead of a simple quarterly employee development plan that develops employee skills and leadership.
In order to include every possible contingency, and add every possible wish list, many organizations end up building these huge, sprawling, bloated, unworkable beasts:
- US Dept of Energy individual development plan examples is 33 pages long – imagine how time-consuming that is for both manager and employees?
- Some career development plan examples say there are 17 examples of employee development objectives
- The Chamber of Commerce says there are 6 stages of career development
- Many career planning professionals – even Indeed.com – confuse Career Action Plans with career development plans
From this small sample of the approaches to employee development objectives, you can see a wide disparity about what exactly employee development is. It’s everything to everyone.
To cover for this confusion, many HR teams build a huge scope to the plan, which makes it a burden for everyone.
Is your HR confusing Corporate Development with Employee Development?
This is the one big mistake many organizations make, that I see in the field. They try to mix corporate development goals with individual employee development goals.
Unfortunately, this confuses the key objective of employee career development.
Rather than a lean tool to build ninja employee performance and job skill growth, a “corporate citizen” oriented development plan will fail to build performance because:
- It does not build buy-in from the employee, who is overwhelmed and distracted with the huge scope of the plan, and ends up just filling it out because it’s mandatory
- It asks employees to focus on corporate factors that are outside of their control, such as climate change and social justice initiatives, creating anxiety and confusion
- It does not build buy-in from busy managers or directors, who often have multiple employees to manage – they can’t stand to oversee these bloated development plans – so they also mechanically complete them just to CYA
If you have your employees chasing a corporate ‘wish list’ of development goals that are not urgent, you are wasting everyone’s time and energy.
Worst of all, you are dissipating their focus to areas they can’t control or improve.
There are just too many variables for an employee to manage with a “one-size-fits-all” skills development plan.
It’s like giving each of your employees a Rubik’s cube to solve!
Do your employee development plans have too large a scope?
Especially if you mix corporate HR goals, community outreach, and DEI goals along with employee development goals. It doesn’t make sense and is shown to cause overwhelm.
Plus, mixing in all these different objectives increases the complexity of getting a handle on employee performance metrics.
Yet many businesses try to do just that.
In an attempt to maintain consistent, uniform corporate performance standards across the board, many managers and HR often end up throwing everything under the sun into the development plan.
Ultimately and sadly, this ends up giving the same set of development goals to every employee!
This creates growth flatline, mediocrity and does not increase employee growth or effectiveness in their specific job role.
As a career development coach, I know the focus needs to be on the employee’s job role, not vast, all-encompassing company goals.
So I designed this innovative career development plan with examples in PDF and Excel to focus on two things:
- Employee performance improvement
- A plan designed to be fast and easy for managers to administer
Building a lean and organized employee development plan template by limiting its scope
You will be relieved to discover these lean and organized employee development plan example templates.
Using a super easy and innovative process, you can quickly build a reusable template in three steps:
- Manager builds a one-time bucket of desired proficiencies from the employee job description; (once these templates are set up, they take less than 15 minutes to revise each quarter)
- Employee and employer sit down (or zoom) to rate and rank development proficiencies together using the simple checklist template
- They agree on development plan action items together for the quarter, and sign off on a quarterly summary they can refer to regularly
This keeps you to a tight, workable scope of professional development that has buy-in from both parties.
PS: For corporate leadership development or long-term career path action plans you need to devise a separate plan.
This way you don’t conflate short-term performance improvement with long-term career path objectives.
Building ninja job performance
To vastly increase employee performance levels, you need to define the daily steps that answer: what is most urgent for the employee to develop this quarter?
In my employee development coach role, I’ve learned that the best employee development plan templates are based on daily action steps.
This helps employee to increase mindfulness by concentrating on the now, over a quarter (in rare cases, monthly.)
This concept uses the principle known as Kaizen: focusing on small, simple improvements consistently, to generate ninja performance levels. This is possible for any employee.
Small daily improvement action steps work because the short-term steps automatically add up to accomplish long-term career growth over time. It works like a savings account.
By adhering to only the proficiencies in their job descriptions, the employee masters what is important for success in their role.
The key difference between career action plans vs. employee development plans
One BIG problem with typical employee development plans is they are confused with Career Action Plans, which have different objectives.
Action plans are intended to cover way more ground and scope. Treating a development plan like an action plan allows sprawl and mission creep to bloat what should be a simple objective.
And there is disagreement in career development theory on what a development plan is!
Let’s clear these differences up right now:
What is a career action plan
A Career Action Plan is a mid-term to long-term career path management plan
- It starts with a long-term or ultimate career goal of 1 to 3 years out
- It is achieved by working backward through mid-term proficiency goals, short term goals, and daily action steps
What is career pathing
Career Pathing is more of a leadership development plan, 3 to 5+ years out, wider in scope than an action plan, intending to groom employees to senior management
- It may include a position growth path, working in multiple departments or roles, gaining additional education, executive mentoring, travel between locations, skills development, etc. as needed
What is an employee development plan
An employee development plan (EDP) is a focused, short term performance growth plan
- It is a recurring quarterly growth tool that enables the employee to master a bucket of job role skills masterfully and permanently
- It focuses only on a few urgent growth priorities at a time
- It is short-term, quarter by quarter proficiency improvement plan
- It maintains employee performance metrics
- EDP includes management input, guidance, and engagement
- It’s built on a shared consensus between employee and manager
The gist of the EDP is to maintain concentration on employees’ performance development and growth into their role. This is accomplished with short-term objectives.
The employee development plan is not the place to focus on serving the entire career path function.
Yes, the employee development plan may include objectives to prepare employees for a larger future role. This is done through employees’ skills development in their current position.
If they grow to be superstars in their current position, that is intrinsically readying them for the next step up their career path ladder.
Developing employee’s individual strengths
Every employee has different strengths, and different proficiencies in need of development.
Even two employees in the same role can have differing proficiency requirements. (For example, one salesperson may handle inbound leads and another outbound. It’s the same sales role ‘on paper’ yet it is two different sets of skills to develop.)
So a manager’s ultimate goal in any EDP is to prioritize focus on where each individual’s performance needs growth. To bring the employee up to master best practices for their role.
The three simple steps to build the ultimate employee development plan
You can build a focused employee development plan in three simple steps as follows:
- Develop a bucket of proficiencies from employee job description
- Break out job role proficiencies into three job role modules: job role, support role, and soft skills
- Keep the plan employee-centered to avoid overwhelm and complexity
- Avoiding loading up plan with long term career path goals or ‘corporate citizen’ goals – create an annual plan for those
- Break out job role proficiencies into three job role modules: job role, support role, and soft skills
- Employee and manager rate and rank which skills to prioritize development, then they agree to a final shortlist together
- When done with prioritizing and agreeing on quarterly goals, manager creates a summary sheet of quarterly goals so employee can refer to them daily & weekly
The result is a simple, clean focused plan that is a partnership between employee and manager, focused only on increasing employee’s effectiveness and growth.
Once it is set up, it can be administered in a 15-minute meeting each quarter and the employee is self-motivated from there.
For complete instructions on how to build out the EDP templates & examples, get the Employee Development Plan Template Kit now.
Who can benefit from this EDP template?
This template concept can be used by all levels of management, including:
- Dept. Managers: Any department manager who wants to raise the standards of the entire team by growing each individual employees’ proficiencies
- Business Owners: A small business owner or manager who has minimal HR resources but has key employees who need accountability to role and skill development
- Individual self-improvement: This template concept works as an individual self-growth plan for any individual who wants to do-it-yourself to crush personal improvement goals or professional goals for work
- Directors: Corporate C-level directors who want to tighten their focus to motivate key employees to high levels of productivity and maximize labor ROI for the corporation
No matter what management level you are at, this innovative model works wonders to engage employees, and best of all you are keeping things simple and low maintenance.
Before we get down to developing the three steps of this EDP, let’s talk about staying focused.
Focus: Identify personal Improvement goals from a bucket of proficiencies
The innovation of this template is you can now customize each development plan quickly from a bucket of proficiencies derived from employee’s Job Description. You only have to build out the bucket of proficiencies one time.
These proficiencies are organized into three modules for easy organization and priority.
Remember, you are not laying out a laundry list or wish list of every single area the employee ‘should’ develop. Especially soft skills wish lists.
Your goal is to focus ONLY on key employee development areas that are pertinent to the best practices of the job position, as derived from the job description.
The beauty of this bucket approach is that all employee plans are held to the same uniform corporate standards, but each with different customized proficiencies, specific to their roles.
Note on corporate required proficiencies: For some of the more professional development plans, you may need to draw up a permanent bucket of mandatory/required corporate proficiencies. These are found in corporate governance, sustainability, or operating model documents.
For example, all employees are expected to follow the same job site safety and technology security protocols.
Keep these corporate development proficiencies to the minimum, or better, set up a separate process or plan
Ok, let’s get to the three steps to build ninja employee performance, using a lean development plan.
Step one: Identify the three modules of job role proficiencies to build the development plan
This is the most important part of developing your employee development plan: building out the list of job role proficiencies from the employee job description and position requirements.
To keep this process clear for manager and employee alike, I’ve found that the best way is to break out the bucket into three modules of job role proficiencies.
- Module One: Job role functions
- Module Two: Job support functions
- Module Three: Job role soft skills.
This three-way breakout maintains focus beautifully because you are not mixing support functions and soft skills together with the most crucial job-role skills.
Module one: Job role functions
- Identify the universe of all job-related functions into a bucket, the “best practices” for the role:
- all role-specific functions for main job role of employee from job description and job requirements
- industry and company-specific proficiencies
- technology platform-specific
Example: Job role proficiencies module
- Module Two: Assess what support functions need development in order for employee to be most effective in their job role.
- composing emails
- customer service best practices
- safety protocols in how every employee operates
- concise phone calls
Example: Job role support proficiencies module
- Module Three: assess what ‘soft’ areas need development or to be minimized
- interpersonal communication skills
- leadership skills
Example: Job role support proficiencies module
Once built out, this is a one-time process that you can refer back to indefinitely, each quarter.
Note: When you break each of the job role areas into specific proficiencies, get as granular and detailed as possible.
For example, a job role support proficiency can’t be “Compose more prospect emails per day.” It is better to be stated as specifics such as “Shorten the amount of time it takes to compose emails by 50% this quarter.” Or “Work on emails only from 9 to 10 am, and 3 to 4 pm.”
Now that you have identified the permanent bucket of specific development proficiencies, organized in three modules, you are ready for step two.
Step two: Self-rating and ranking areas of employee development by both employee and manager
The EDP is presented to employee, where they and manager go through a simple checklist in each module of the plan worksheet. It can be emailed ahead of time.
Employee self-rating column: employee self-rates proficiencies and ranks the most urgent ones for development this quarter
- First, the employee breezes through a uniform list of the proficiencies for their career role. They self-select the areas of growth they feel they are in need of, using a self-rating scale of 1 to 10 to assess their competence in each proficiency
- For each self-rating, employee then ranks the urgency of need for improvement, like an A, B, or C, A being most urgent
- For example, a self-rating of 4 in the number of customer contacts per day has much more urgency than a rating of 4 in email compose time
Manager rating column: manager rates and ranks each proficiency in need of development
- The manager goes through the same list of proficiencies as employee
- Manager double-check rating and ranking of each chosen proficiency for accuracy and agreement
- Mgr. can assign their own rank and ratings of proficiencies
Example: Rating and Ranking urgency of proficiencies development by employee and manager
Agreed on areas to improve column: employee and manager discuss and agree on which proficiencies to prioritize.
Step Two: Three proficiencies identified and agreed upon, with final say by manager
Caution: To avoid overwhelm in your individual development plan, keep it employee-centered!
The goal here is to prioritize focus on those 4 or 5 urgent areas most in need of improvement,
not have employee work on the whole bucket of proficiencies each quarter.
Please keep the development plan employee-centered.
This means avoiding the temptation to throw in a ton of deliverables. Choose only 3 to 5 proficiencies out of all three modules.
This limited focus of 3 to 5 proficiencies is how you create permanent kaizen growth and improvement..
Have the patience and trust that less is more here.
Step three: Summarize quarterly employee development goals in a goals summary, so employees can refer to them daily
Once the final set of proficiencies is rated, ranked, and agreed upon, the worksheet is complete.
But the development plan is not.
To maintain employee ninja focus, these final proficiencies are transferred to a one-page summary sheet.
The employee can save it in tasks, calendar, or hard copy to refer to it daily.
- For the most powerful employee development results, I strongly suggest you have employees schedule 15 minutes per week where they review progress, ask for help, work on specifics, research issues etc. so they can continue to tighten their mastery of proficiencies
Going full circle: EDP Quarterly Review by Manager
At the end of each quarter, the manager conducts a quarterly review with employee:
- Determine proficiency improvement results of previous quarter
- Assign new priorities for coming quarter
- Determine what additional resources the employee might need to achieve goals
- Optional – assign earned rewards and awards for improvement goals met
Adding rewards and recognition to reinforce employee engagement motivation
Recognition, awards, spiffs, or other rewards, helps build special motivation for employee to exceed development plan performance goals.
I include how to set up and implement a Rewards program as part of the EDP Template Kit.
Note: This article is an excerpt from the Employee Development Plan Template Kit.
You can implement an EDP from the free templates as a starter. Over time it will become limiting without the strong quarterly reviews and rewards motivation.
For example, the free downloadable templates in this article do not include:
- Managers instructions and templates to fully set up and implement the EDP, QED (Quarterly Employee Development Plan) and daily development goals summary
- How to use the EDP to correct difficult and insubordinate employees
- How to set up and implement a cost effective and motivational Rewards program
The complete EDP Template Kit does. It gives you a step-by-step guide to creating a customized plan, full guidance to manage the quarterly review and putting the plan on quarterly auto-pilot.
What’s included in this EDP Template Kit
The template kit includes everything a department manager or business owner needs to set up a strong employee development plan quickly. Provides step-by-step instructions with plenty of screen shots and filled out completed examples of all EDP and EQD templates.
- EDP Template Kit Instructions Guide – step-by-step instructions clearly explain how to set up each EDP, EQD and Rewards template, with plenty of screenshots and completed examples. Shows how to administer your quarterly employee development plan to auto pilot
- Completed Examples of all EDP templates
- EDP and Rewards Templates as a fillable PDF – customize the EDP for each employee without needing to edit form
- EDP, EQD and Rewards Templates in Excel format – edit form fields to meet your department’s requirements
- Employee Quarterly Development (EQD) template as a one page fillable PDF – shows all customizable fields in template
If you want to boost employee performance by keeping them engaged and focused on their job roles, get this innovative EDP Template Kit now.
About the author
Larry LaFata is a Career Development Coach and founder of defineyourcareer.com.
His new publication is coming soon: How to use Rewards to Motivate Your Team