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How to structure career development plans for your employees

Published 14th Feb 2023

Gone are the days when employees only wanted a salary, pension contribution and enough annual leave to take time off work throughout the year.

Now, employees are seeing the value that they bring – and rightly so – which has resulted in a shift in what employees now expect from their employers in terms of benefits and rewards.

Not only has hybrid and remote working become one of the most sought-after benefits, but having a structured career development plan is now high on the priority list. At last year’s Gartner ReimagineHR Conference, Vitorio Bretas, director in the Gartner HR practice, said:

“Employees are leaving their current employers for better professional development opportunities (45%) at similar rates as they leave for higher compensation (48%). Thirty-five percent of employees surveyed said they left their employer for better career trajectories.”

As a result of these findings, it’s vital for all employers – regardless of industry or sector – to have career development plans in place for their employees.

Here’s how you can structure them.

What should a career development plan include?

Firstly, find out what the employee’s personal and professional development goals are.

This step is crucial as not only does it encourage the employee to think comprehensively and consider numerous areas of potential development, but it also ensures everyone is on the same page. If a line manager thinks a person’s career goals are unattainable or unrealistic, it is better to discuss alternative options at the beginning of the career development plan process.

Examples of career development goals could include:

  • Something growth-oriented, such as public speaking, telephone conversations or line management
  • Something skills-oriented, such as a first aid qualification, a management diploma or a Photoshop course 
  • Something relationship-oriented, such as improving time management, being more assertive, or providing feedback to colleagues 

The key to determining the goals is to ensure that you use the SMART methodology, to ensure that they are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

How does a career development plan combine with company requirements?

It is highly beneficial if, where possible, your employees’ career development plans also tie with the requirements of the company.

If, for example, your organisation is hiring someone to record and edit videos for social media, this could be something that an existing employee studies as part of their career development. 

Similarly, if your organisation is looking to make more outbound sales calls, you could train an existing staff member – such as someone working in admin – on how to make such calls, and potentially develop their career into a new sales role within the business.

Discussing your employees’ career goals not only helps them to work towards something for themselves, but it also opens up opportunities for the business to develop, too. It is a bonus if there are some parallel areas of professional growth and business growth!

How do we put a career development plan in action?

When you have a set number of goals to be achieved, you need to ensure that both yourself as a line manager and your employee are clear on the following:

  • What goals are in place as part of the career development plan
  • Tasks that need to be completed by the employee
  • Training that needs to be completed
  • Meetings that need to be attended 
  • Targets that need to be reached and if this will include bonuses
  • How progress will be measured
  • How long the first development stage will take
  • What a promotion will look like (job title/salary)

Note: don’t forget the 70/20/10 rule! 70% of learning comes from on-the-job experience, 20% from other people, and 10% from training.

Despite training and coaching being a part of your employees’ career development plans, it’s essential that most objectives become part of the job itself or based on relationships with others.

Get in touch

If your organisation would like further advice on recruitment or career development planning, get in touch with McCarthy Recruitment on 0161 828 8726 or fill out our contact form.

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