One of your most important tasks as a manager is to help members of your team develop professionally so that they are able reach their full potential within the company. One way to do this is by helping your employees set goals and lay down a plan to reach them.
Not only is it good for your team and organization to have more highly skilled staff on the payroll, but employees given more opportunities for professional development generally feel more engaged.
What is a Professional Development Plan?
Simply put, a professional development plan is an outline of the steps required to reach a professional development goal. This goal can be big or small -- and short or long-term.
Our professional development plan template for managers is a tool that we have developed to assist you in sitting down with members of your team to set development goals, track progress towards them, and record the results. We hope that this template will also serve as a complement to our course search - matching employee development needs with the right course. Here’s how it works:
Step One: Help Each Member of Your Team Set a Professional Development Goal
Sit down with each member of your team and help them set a professional development goal to work towards. This could be learning a new skill or further developing a skill that will allow them to bring something new to their current role or move up in the company.
Both you and the employee should bring some ideas for goals to the table. This way, you can both be sure that each individual’s goal is good for the team and is something that they are actually interested in.
Step Two: Determine Necessary Steps to Reach the Goal
Once you’ve worked with your employee to set a professional development goal, it’s time to set up a detailed plan for reaching it. The template includes a table (seen below) where you can set out the steps for reaching the goal and the estimated length of time it will take to complete each step. The first column is labeled ”Course Name”.
In many cases, reaching a new career goal will involve taking one or several courses. However, not every step in the professional development plan will be a course.
For example, if your team member’s end goal is to get PMP certified, one step in the plan will be getting in hours of project management experience on the job and the final step will be taking the PMP exam.
Step Three: Ensure That Every Step is Applied
There is no doubt that your employees gain valuable knowledge from training courses. However, how many times have you learned something new only to quickly start forgetting things if you don’t immediately apply what you’ve learned? That’s why we thought it was so important to include the ”How will I use this now” column to our professional development plan template.
As a manager, you need to ensure that your team members can immediately put the new skills gained from each step of their plan to work on the job. This means not only working with them to decide how they will do this before they ever take the development step, but ensuring that you actually build this into their job role by allocating the time and resources they need to apply their new knowledge when the time comes.
Step Four: Make Sure New Skills Stay Up-To-Date
The last column our chart is labelled ”How will I keep this relevant”. This is the section to keep track of anything that needs to be followed up on at each step of the professional development plan. Will a course need to be followed up by another course? Or will an earned certification need continuing education credits to remain current?
In our earlier PMP example, the final step of the plan for an employee who wants to get PMP certified is to take the exam.
This certification is kept up to date by earning 60 professional development units (PDUs) every three years, so on this section of the plan, you should ensure that your team member has noted any similar requirements.
Step Five: How Did it Go?
Your employee has completed each step in the plan, applied it on the job, and made sure that any necessary upkeep has been noted. What now? It’s time to sit down again to talk about how everything went.
Does your employee feel like the desired outcome has been reached? Do you? Make sure these thoughts are written down in the notes section and include any ideas for future goals.
Need help getting started? Get in touch with us at email@example.com