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How to Plan Staff Development


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1) What is Staff Development Plan?

It is a kind of business axiom that every solid company (which is serious about progressing on the market) should have an adequate Staff Development Plan – a written document explaining specific ways in which the company is going to invest into its workforce: improve performance and explore talents of its current employees in all available ways, to be more competitive in business.

Consistent and effective Staff Development Plan is a basis for a company’s growth as it determines direction for strengthening its personnel and brings specific strategy in this area of improvement. With a help of this plan you can hit the following objectives:

  • Employees are encouraged to develop: they have a vision, definite goals and expectancies;
  • Employees are directed and supervised to develop: they are professionally supported;
  • Company controls its workforce: plans and utilizes it to be strong among competitors;

2) Why the Staff Development Plan is so important?

When a company wants to prosper, it needs to have a qualified and powerful staff which is loyal and thankful to this organization. One of the special ingredients making the relationships between employers and their employees strong and fair is a transparency: transparency in mutual intentions and policies applied. Staff Development Plan is what clears up expectations between employees and their managers. A staff development plan fulfills these important missions:

  • Identifies current performance gaps or future demands for skills and staff capabilities;
  • Outlines the career objectives for the company’s employees (and the path towards them);
  • Explains how the company is going to support and direct employees towards these objectives;
  • Expresses how strongly the company is interested in development of its employees and their talents (it shows how the company values its employees to nourish their loyalty);
  • It is the company’s policy to recognize and develop obvious and unrevealed yet talents available in the company’s staff to appreciate them and benefit from employing them;
  • Outlines employees’ current promotional prospects (important for all professionally ambitious employees);

3) Actions to plan staff development:

  1. Determine the development needs of your staff: for this you need to use inputs gained from your employees and their supervisors. You may complete this task in the following way:
    1. Core competencies (define them for all positions in the staff): skills and other characteristics that a person needs to be successful and prospering at this position. Can be a combination of both psychological traits and technical capabilities;
    2. Competency gaps (assess deficits for each competency): check the levels of competence you have at every workplace due to a person occupying it and pick out competencies which need further improvement (where a person has certain gaps). The same procedure is required for identifying future competency demands connected to expected business growth;
  2. Define the development objectives for every staff member to obtain a better performance, cover gaps in their specific competencies, and to increase their competency level for future needs;
  3. Identify the skills, knowledge and practical experience needed to achieve these goals;
  4. Select development techniques to close identified gaps and to reach outlined goals:
    1. Training courses of different types;
    2. Delegation to seminars;
    3. Cross-trainings with more experienced employees;
    4. Increasing of time spent on specific types of jobs;
    5. Acquiring and providing tutorial materials;
  5. Meet each of the staff members and discuss these developmental goals with them. Reach a mutually favorable agreement upon a shared vision, and win everyone’s further commitment;
  6. If, though a discussion, some of your employees have certain development goals which cannot compromise anyhow with what you have projected, then this should be a signal for the company to review their employment (to reexamine if they fit requirements to be your staff members);
  7. Define how progress on the path of development can be measured, towards the goals you have set (formulate them in specific and quantifiable terms), for example a specific rate of defectless production or errorless operation you demand from employees;
  8. Once development goals are approved, document these goals in your Staff Development Plan;
  9. Decide on the time limits suiting your development plan. Focus on due date to check results: usually it is done in terms of annual performance reviews;
  10. Create a more specific schedule of trainings and other arrangements aimed to develop the staff (break down the goals into smaller tasks and set up a calendar for them);
  11. Make your staff highly interested in adherence to the development plan: associate improvements they can achieve with some “tangible” rewards, such as a promotion or annual salary increase, or probably paying out a one-time bonus;
  12. Establish close collaboration between employees and their managers focused on achievement of the developmental goals set for them. Regularly review and appraise the progress done;

4) A simple way to plan staff development with VIP Task Manager:

VIP Task Manager is a client-server product that stands for collaboration between people, so it enables the managers to plan staff development in specific terms of particular tasks and projects. Let’s consider simple step-by-step instructions to plan staff development using this product:

Instruments to be used:

  • Resource List;
  • Task Tree mode;
  • Calendar mode;

Resource List mode actions:

  1. Add users accounts to the list (set their logins and passwords);
  2. Enter users’ departments, personal phones and other details;

 Task Tree mode actions:

  1. Create a task group called “Staff Development”;
  2. Fill this group with personal folders for every person in the staff;
  3. Identify personal development goals for everyone and schedule an appointment to discuss these goals with the staff member: create tasks (meetings) and set their time settings;
  4. Once every meeting is finished (“Complete”) and goals are agreed with the staff members you can go next to more detailed planning of their development;
  5. Create a more specific schedule of developmental arrangements: schedule the dates for trainings (along with specific trainers assigned), for delegation to seminars, daily time periods allocated for self-education, etc;

Calendar mode actions:

  1. Switch to Calendar mode and select appropriate View, for example Month view;
  2. Set filter by folder “Staff Development”;
  3. Turn on “Group by Resources” option;
  4. Review the schedule of trainings for this month by each employee;
  5. Schedule reports to be submitted to you after a period of time (for example via attaching it as a file to a task);

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