What is an Employee Development Plan?

Training and an employee development plan actually begin during the interview stage. Leaders should know what an employee needs to develop from the minute they begin working for you.

A number of years ago, when Microsoft’s Office products were still relatively new, Linda was interviewed for an executive administrative position. When the vice president conducting the interview asked about her skills with Microsoft Office products, Linda replied that she had never worked with them. The vice president, concerned about the lack of skills, asked what she planned to do. Linda’s response was, “I will learn them by the time I begin here.” The vice president was impressed and took a shot on her. On the day that Linda started, she had a very strong working knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel. She was still learning PowerPoint and Outlook. The vice president was impressed and said that she knew in the interview that Linda would do what it took to get the job done, and she did.

How well do you know your employees’ abilities and, more importantly, your employees’ desires to learn and grow. This is where an employee development plan begins.

Your onboarding system for bringing new employees onboard should start with an employee development plan. Each new hire should be assigned a mentor to work with for the first 90-120 days. That mentor should not be their direct manager. It needs to be somebody they are working with, not for. When you start this way a couple of things happen. Number one, the new hire starts to feel valued. Number two, the person assigned as the mentor receives validation that they are doing their job correctly.

In college I was not a good student. In my freshman year I decided to take an entry level mathematics class before jumping into the big stuff, just to refresh my memory. I was doing okay with it and had a solid B in the class. Then the teaching assistant asked me if I would tutor some other people. I said, “Me? Tutor? Uh…Okay.” Literally, I was very hesitant. Well, I ended up going ahead and doing the tutoring. The minute I started tutoring, what happened? I got a better handle on the subject because the best way to learn is to teach. As I did that, I went from a B to a solid A.

So, you assign a mentor to start helping the new hire. How do you find the right mentor? I recommend a behavior-based analysis concept. That’s where Everything Disc Workplace comes into play.

Once the employee has been hired, they should take a profile like the Everything Disc Workplace. Once taken, you can look at that as a manager and see how it plays into the behavior styles. We’re matching up an employee who is going to be able to communicate and relate to the new hire. That’s where you start training.

employee development planOne time, we had a new hire starting.  But before we brought the person in, I made sure that the first thing in the development plan was that I wanted their desk vacuumed out, scrubbed down, wiped down, pulled out from the wall, the phone wiped down and sanitized, I wanted it looking like brand new office furniture.  My staff looked at me kind of funny, like, why?  I said, “Do you want to get hand-me-downs at Christmas,” and the people that had older siblings absolutely understood what I was talking about.  When we were cleaning this out, we actually had to get a hand vacuum to clean out the drawer because it was full of salt from the previous person.  We cleaned it all out and, when we pulled the desk away from the wall, we found an old chicken bone on the floor.  Isn’t it better that we found that than if the new hire had?

I’m talking about a system of development. We want to make sure that that employee has a great concept right from the get go. Then training starts to become more of a regular thing. And it has to start by getting them to understand that is how we do things at this company.


Related articles:  Employee Training & Development, Employee Development Methods, Stage of Team Development, Team Development

Other topics that may be of interest to you:  Organizational Culture, Leadership Development, Teamwork in the Workplace, Employee Retention

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