Elements of Professional Development

Strategic Planning 1

Elements Of Professional Development

Ongoing employee training and development are essential to creating and maintaining a high performance workforce.  There should be specific components of the program that are in place to ensure high performance levels are met.  Those components include determining competencies, skill assessment, employee contribution and ownership, written action plan, measurable outcomes aligned with organization goals, strategy implementation follow-up, and supervisor/manager involvement.

Determining Competencies

The first step in creating an employee development program is to determine which competencies are the ones that the company needs the employee to possess.  The list of competencies may include; collaboration, organization, time management, customer focused, analytical thinking, innovation, flexibility, goal setting, problem solving, and/or decision making.  Competencies may vary depending on job description. 


Skill Assessment

A skill assessment or competency assessment is an integral part of any development process.  Before anyone can determine what they should improve, they first must assess their current skill levels as they relate to job functions.  By first assessing the skill level of the required job skills, the employee and supervisor/manager will know where deficiencies may lie and what opportunities exist for improvement. 


Employee Contribution and Ownership

To change job behavior or increase performance, the employee must:

  • Recognize and acknowledge area for improvement
  • Desire to improve
  • Have opportunities to learn how to increase performance
  • Have support of supervisor and management team


Therefore, to help ensure success of the program, the employee, rather than the supervisor/manager, should be the one to develop the plan.  The benefit of this is that the employee creates and takes ownership to their development plan.  Having the employee take ownership in crafting and documenting his/her plan will ensure that he/she is engaged and are willing to put in the effort to make a skill improvement or behavior change.  

In addition, by taking ownership for their development, the employee is more motivated to achieve the developmental objectives they set for themselves.  An employee is more likely to buy-into a development plan if they are the ones selecting the skills they want to enhance.  People achieve more and perform better when they want to verses when they have to.  By choosing skills they want to develop, rather than being told what to develop, an employee is more intrinsically motivated.

In addition, by drafting their own plan, employees take personal responsibility and accountability for their professional growth.  That ownership fosters employee engagement thus increasing the likelihood of completing the plan timely, completely, and with a high degree of motivation and effort.


Written Action Plan

Successful realization of behavior changes or skill improvement requires not only recognition of need, but a clear plan to make the necessary behavior changes or skill improvement come to fruition.  Having this plan written ensures both the supervisor/manager and the employee have a reference tool and a guide to improvement.  Also, writing the objectives and actions needed to achieve those objectives increases commitment on the part of the employee and supervisor/manager.

The employee’s plan should have clearly stated objectives with measurable outcomes as well as target completion dates to help ensure the employee is working towards definitive time frames.  The written plan can also help ensure that it is tied to our organization goals, and that those goals are aligned to the employee’s goals.

Measurable Objectives

Measurable goals must be weaved into the employee development plans to ensure maximum performance.  Metrics need to be established to track the success parameters of the skill enhancement and improvement initiatives.  Therefore, each Development Action Plan should have an objective statement for each skill/competency that fully encompasses the result that is expected upon completion of the plan (e.g. increase sales by 5%, reduce expenses by 8%, receive 82% or higher customer satisfaction, etc…).


Alignment of Goals

An employee development program is most effective if the individual plans are connected to the organization’s goals and objectives, as well as tied to the employee’s career goals.  The Employee Development Plan within the organizational development program has measurable objectives and specified outcomes that will transfer back to the job and relate to the goals of the organization.

Linking employee improvement objectives to organizational goals provides the employee with clear direction and a context for their work while positively affecting the company productivity.


Strategy Implementation Follow-up

Often, employees attend a training class with little or no follow-up on the implementation of those learned skills and/or behaviors to their job performance.  The successful development program will have a follow-up component where the employee indicates how they are applying the learned skill to their job functions to increase their performance and how that skill is helping to achieve the organizational goals.  This follow-up review helps evaluate and measure the training and/or developmental efforts.


Supervisor/Manager Involvement

Supervisors/managers must actively participate in the development process through collaboration and coaching.  Although the onus for the development plan is on the employee, the immediate supervisor/manager should collaborate with the employee and provide feedback as the employee is crafting his/her Development Action Plan.  They should give useful feedback on current performance, how to prioritize actions, and make recommendations on various training courses / developmental actions.  The supervisor/manager must also regularly monitor the employee’s progress.  The supervisor/manager should schedule to meet quarterly to discuss how things are going.

In addition, the supervisor/manager should regularly provide feedback on what the individual is doing well and what they need to be doing differently.  The supervisor/manager should implore coaching techniques such as observing, questioning, and listening.  Feedback is critical to the success of the developmental process as it provides valuable information and gives guidance on performance.  Feedback is also important to the employee because it shows that his/her development is important to the supervisor/manager and the company.



Roles and Responsibilities for Elements of Professional Development


  • Assess their level of mastery with regard to the competencies and skills required in their job.
  • Identify development opportunities and then identify various training courses that will help achieve their objectives to meet the identified needs.
  • Create a development plan that list measurable objectives as well as a course of action to achieve those objectives.
  • Periodically assess progress toward reaching his/her objectives.
  • Complete a Strategy Implementation sheet 30-60 days after completion of the course/action indicating how they are applying the learned skill.
  • Complete a Performance Evaluation sheet just prior to their yearly review to evaluate outcomes of training and development efforts and assess how their new skills are incorporated into their job responsibilities.
  • Realistically assess employee’s strengths and development needs in relation to organizational objectives.
  • Identify development opportunities and ensure the alignment of the opportunities to organizational goals and objectives.
  • Help employees identify appropriate training courses and development opportunities that will help address this need/opportunity.
  • Provide assistance on the creation of development plan
  • Ensure the employee is proactive with the implementation of the plan.
  • Provide regular opportunities to discuss employee’s progress and provide feedback on performance.
  • Meet with employee quarterly to assess progress.
  • Help evaluate outcomes of employee’s training and development efforts.




Forms for Elements of Professional Development

The following forms can be utilized to help ensure consistency in process and to achieve the preferred / intended outcomes.


Employee Forms

Form Descriptive
Self-Assessment Worksheet The worksheet lists skills/competencies that are necessary to achieve high performance levels.  The employee uses the form to assess and indicate their perceived level of mastery of those particular skills/competencies.  The employee will also indicate which skills they believe would be beneficial to further develop.
Development Portfolio: Employee Employee lists the skills/competencies they and their supervisor/manager agreed to address over the next review period along with training courses or other development actions that the employee will complete to develop the listed skills.  The employee will also list measurable objectives / outcomes that they expect to reach at the completion of the review period through the application of that skill.
Strategy Implementation Follow-up Used as a follow-up to a training course or developmental action to indicate how the knowledge acquired and skills learned from the course/action are implemented into the employee’s daily job functions.
Performance Evaluation Shortly before their annual review, the employee will complete the form indicating how they applied the new skill to his/her job activities and how successful he/she was in achieving his/her objectives.


Supervisor/Manager Forms

Form Descriptive
Skill Assessment Worksheet The worksheet lists skills/competencies that are necessary to achieve high performance levels.  The supervisor/manager assesses and indicates their perceived level of competency of the list skills for an employee.   They will also indicate what skills may benefit from additional development.
Development Portfolio::  Supervisor/manager Used by the supervisor/manager to help monitor the progress of the employee.


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