Planning Employee Development

Plan Now For Leadership Performance Management Employee Development

January is a time for plans.  Your personal plans may have started with a New Year’s resolution.  Your business plans likely will include a budget with forecasts for this year’s revenue and expenses.  January also is an ideal time for people planning.  Creating an annual map for how to best unlock the potential each employee brings through your door daily is a must.  Your people plan will create the foundation for a dynamic workplace and engaged employees who are performing well.

While large companies tend to complicate planning of all types, smaller businesses don’t have to.  A map for an employee’s development can be described simply on a page or less.  A plan also serves as a tool for communicating.  If all parties understand the plan clearly, then it is good enough and does not require a special format.

Development plans are created for each employee and consider two basic variables: current capability and career ambition.  Business leaders will need to have insight to an employee’s ability to get the current job accomplished (fairly easy) and also be familiar with the desire to take on different or greater responsibility (less easy).  Observing capability often occurs in real-time, while understanding an employee’s ambition with respect to your business may require one or more conversations.

Assuming an adequate amount of insight, rate each employee in terms of capability and ambition, from low to high.   Here is a diagram to help you to think about the interaction of these two concepts:

Bench Inc - Capability vs. Ambition Chart

The easiest scenario to plan for is where a highly capable employee is performing very well and also has a high degree of ambition to take on more (high/high).  This employee’s plan could outline the transition to new tasks and duties that would be challenging, thus freeing up the manager for greater value activity.

A more difficult scenario involves an employee who may have the ambition to take on the new &different (high), but current capability is not high enough to warrant a change (low).  Smaller businesses do not have the luxury of maintaining many different roles for employees to try on until once size feels right.  The development plan here should clearly outline where improvement is needed in the current role.  Future changes related to an employee’s ambition may also be discussed, but only as a result of meeting current expectations for improvement.

Somewhat frustrating is the employee who has high capability but low ambition.  This individual performs well each day and is quite happy with the status quo.  At a minimum, this employee’s plan should be clear about the need to stay current with emerging trends, technology or processes to ensure that performance stays high.  Every business needs those solid folks who get the job done reliably, and not everyone wants to take on more.  It is up to each business leader to decide what is suitable for the company.  In doing so, it is critical to remember that low ambition is not the same as low commitment.

Finally, if your company still has an employee who falls short in both capability and ambition (low/low), use the development plan to clearly outline areas needed for immediate improvement.  Set a timetable for actions required in each area and keep careful track of how the employee is progressing as needed.

Creating a people plan for the new business year is as important as any other type of planning.  Considering the developmental aspects of capability and ambition for each employee in your company is the basis for keeping your human capital engaged and driving overall business performance.