5 Steps to Create a Successful Career Development Plan

Katie Dowdall

Building your career development plan: focus points

Figure out the starting point

Know your destination

To create the perfect outline of a roadmap, you need to figure out your destination as well. Where do you want to go? What do you want to achieve? Destination, alongside your origin, will help you craft your journey.

Bridge the gap

Not all journeys are in a constant state of movement and progress. Sometimes, you need to step away and re-evaluate or prioritize some much-needed rest. Take time to reflect on why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Decide your route

Use all of the information you’ve gathered up to this point. After a thorough evaluation of your origin, destination, and gap, you decide on the ideal path for yourself. This is where you break down specific steps and milestones. Two people could share the same destination, but take different paths to get there—meaning there’s not only one route to a certain career. You need to decide which milestones along the way—jobs, skills, experiences, training—make the most sense for YOU to achieve your goals with maximum impact.

How to Implement a Career Development Plan

Now that we’ve covered what a career development plan is and what guided career planning can offer both your employees and your company, let’s talk about how to implement a career development plan in the workplace. We’ve broken it down into eight simple steps.

1. Identify People Who Want or Need One

If you’re just starting out with career development planning, or you don’t have the resources to extend career planning to all of your people just yet, you might want to start off by offering a career development plan to just a few people and expanding from there.

If this is the case, decide how many employees you have the time and resources to support with a career development plan at the moment, and then choose which people you think would benefit from it the most.

Think about who seems the most frustrated or limited in their current career path, who displays the most drive to learn new things, and who seems the most willing to take on new challenges.

Some employees might be happy with their current career path and not want to move forward with a career development plan for the moment. If this is the case, you can approach others instead.

2. Give Them a Self-Assessment Task

The aim of this is for employees to identify the skills they need to do their job well, what they currently excel at, and where they may need more professional development. This is vital information for career planning.

3. Have Them Do Research Into Themselves and Their Goals

Before their first career development plan meeting, have each employee prepare answers to the following questions. They may want to take some time to research their responses, especially regarding any skills courses they might want to take.

4. Arrange for Them to Meet with Their Managers

Have each employee meet with their line manager to go over their answers to the questions, flesh them out with the manager’s help, and draw up an “official” career development plan for them to work on.

5. Evaluate What’s Achievable in Your Organization

Remember that development opportunities are not restricted to formal courses. They can also include knowledge-sharing events like conferences, working on specific projects, and shadowing or assisting certain people in the company.

6. Implement the Career Development Plan

7. Keep in Touch

Schedule regular follow-up sessions with each employee—quarterly is a good idea—to check in on how their career development process is going, make any necessary adjustments to their career plan, and prepare for the next steps if need be.

It’s also important that people know they can schedule additional career progression meetings at any time, for example to seek advice on a bump in the road or a new career development opportunity they would like to take.