How to create a successful professional development plan

HR software simplifies tracking an employee's professional development progress.

HR software simplifies tracking an employee's professional development progress.

A well-defined professional development plan (PDP) can reduce employee turnover in addition to inspiring and challenging workers whose progress may be stagnant. Duke University's Human Resources website recommends taking the following steps when helping employees build a successful PDP.

Have the staff member complete a self-assessment.

The assessment should include questions about the employee's personality, skills and interests. When evaluating the self-assessment, start visualizing ways in which this particular employee's goals might benefit your organization. This will enable you to find ways to cultivate their interests in ways that align with the company's mission.

Gain an understanding of the employee's skill level.

Duke recommends gauging the employee's skills in the following categories:

  • Technical
  • Social
  • Aptitudes
  • Attitude

Knowing how well a staff member works with colleagues, how quickly they learn, how they see the world and what their natural talents are is just as important as understanding their technical skill level when developing a PDP.

Define your organization's needs.

It's important to do this from various perspectives. Having a firm idea of the organization's goals as well as the goals of the employee's particular department and, more specifically, their team, is necessary to creating a PDP that will satisfy the needs of the organization at multiple levels.

Suggest professional development opportunities.

Whether it's a new project or job responsibility, a workshop or seminar, volunteering opportunities or the chance to mentor someone else, giving your employee multiple professional development options to choose from will allow them to do what interests them most. This, in turn, will likely lead to the employee retaining more knowledge and applying what they've learned to their work.

Conduct an analysis of their progress.

Analyzing progress typically involves asking for feedback from the employee and working with them to address any concerns. Keeping track of an employee's progress and performance can easily be done with the help of HR software.