Development Plans: Necessary or Evil?

How many of you write development plans? How many of you that write them ask a very simple question, “why?” Another area that is sometimes unclear is who owns writing the development plan? Follow that up with who ‘owns’ the development plan? Peak your interest yet?

When I discuss this topic with other like minded folks, we generally are at either side of necessary or evil. Many managers seem to wait around for the individuals to take the initiative to write their development plan. I know from experience that many employees are waiting on manager to outline their development plan. Seems like what came first, “the chicken or the egg?”

Drawing on my experiences – the ownership has waffled back and forth (even within the same organization). Ownership should start with the one that has the most to gain from a solid development plan – the individual! The manager should be a coach in helping to clarify, assist and hold accountable said development plan. Anything else – would definitely have me leaning towards EVIL.

What makes helps make a great development plan? Looking back over the years and reviewing all of my development plans. I can share that I had some good, bad and ugly development plans. The good ones had a few things that made them stand out…

  • Spent time reviewing my current roles/responsibilities by putting everything down in writing.
  • Looking back on past reviews and feedback, I would list out my strengths and accomplishments.
  • Next list out the areas for development or where you maybe struggling currently.
  • Write out your development plan with focus on what you are going to do, by when and the success criteria.
  • Sit down with all of this work with your manager and review everything. Ask for feedback. Ask for help. Walk away with a finalized agreed upon development plan.
  • Review every three months with your manager the progress, help needed or changes that may need to be made.

When I look at my bad or ugly development plans, I simply took short cuts in my initial work or the working session with my current manager was not done.

If you want to grow, develop and be totally engaged with your organization – you can not give your development a pencil whip, got it done approach. It should be a necessary tool to help you become the person that you want (should) be.