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EURES (EURopean Employment Services)
News article31 August 2023European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion3 min read

Nurturing your employees’ professional growth with personal development plans

Cultivating employees’ professional growth is an essential skill for any employer or manager. Read on to discover how to help your employees write an effective personal development plan that will boost their skills in the workplace.

Nurturing your employees’ professional growth with personal development plans

Meet with your employees often

Talking to your employees regularly is one of the best ways for you to learn about how they work and what their professional goals are. If you do not already, begin by planning to meet with your employee to discuss their current workload and future goals. These one-to-one meetings will give you a clear idea of their professional skills, and you can also use this opportunity to check if they are worried about any tasks and offer them support.

If there are areas where your employee needs support, you can recommend training to them or assign them a new responsibility to help grow their confidence. Each action you agree on should be written as an objective in their personal development plan.

Expand on their strengths

When discussing their personal development plan, be positive and encourage your employee to write about their strengths first. By asking them about the strongest areas of their work, you can provide more opportunities for them to take on greater responsibilities within them. This will help your team to become more specialised and skilled so that they can excel.

Use S.M.A.R.T. objectives

Set objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.) to allow your employees to set realistic goals and give them a clear place to begin. For example, if they have expressed an interest in management, an objective could be to consistently manage one small project over the next six months. S.M.A.R.T. objectives allow your employees to grow and develop – they could progress into management of another project, for example, or take on a mentor role for another colleague. In this way, you can encourage growth within your team’s skillset.

Focus on growth

Although S.M.A.R.T. objectives should be achievable, do encourage your employee to set goals that will push their abilities and allow progression in their careers. To do this, also identify and set objectives in areas that they have avoided mentioning in their ‘strengths’ section. This will present opportunities for your employees to become more skilled and confident in their roles.

Performance reviews are important

Performance reviews and personal development plans go hand in hand with your employees’ progression. When the performance review period arrives, take time to fill out the manager’s section of the forms carefully. You should focus on responding to employees’ comments point by point and review if they are correct, evidence, and within the remits of their job role. Additionally, focus on assessing if the objectives set in the previous review have been met. If they have, you can expand on them. If not, you should speak with your employee to see if there is any way you can support them to achieve them before their performance review.

Give them new opportunities

It is your responsibility to assign work to your employees. Therefore, if they have not met an objective in their personal development plan, they may not have had the opportunity to attempt the task. Discussions about workload are essential opportunities for your employees to share what they want to work on, so that they can progress.

Want more advice on supporting your employees’ professional growth? Read our article on ‘Ten things every good mentor should do’.


Related links:

Ten things every good mentor should do


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