A Supervisor's Role in Employee Development Plans

A Supervisor's Role in Employee Development Plans

What is a development plan?

Let's first understand what exactly a development plan is. Development plans track goals, competency development, and objectives that employees need to achieve for continuous improvement and career development. Supervisors who work closely with employees typically create a development plan that identifies areas in need of improvement and suggests resources to achieve goals. A good development plan will not only support the employee's goals, but also align with the organization's needs.


How does the supervisor help the process?

When a supervisor takes time to help create development plans for employees, they build leadership skills and improve their department's performance and productivity. Development plans can involve several core categories. For example, a development plan should specify competencies needed for the role, skills needed for improvement, strategic learning objectives, and individual and departmental goals.  The first steps to completing an effective development plan are as follows:

1. Perform an Employee Assessment 

At this point, your goal as a supervisor is to understand the employee's competencies, note strengths and weaknesses, and gain insight into the employee's social skills, interests, values, and personality. 


2. Evaluate Business Goals

Identify and define your department's goals and match them to your employee's proficiencies. For your employee to succeed, you must understand how to apply their skills and talents to the organization's objectives. 


 3. Set Goals, Plans, and Strategies

Use what you learned from the employee assessment to determine which projects and responsibilities to assign the employee. Again, you want to pair your employee's strengths with your organization's goals. By setting your employees up for success, you also ensure that your organization succeeds. You should also put time and thought into selecting a mentor who will best work with an individual employee.


 4. Track the Development Plan

Use a performance log to track, record, and provide real-time feedback to the employee. Remember to record dates, events, observations, expectations, and impacts. This step is critical in correcting errors, strengthening weaknesses, and enhancing strengths. Instead of addressing everything at once, work with the employee a little at a time. Make each interaction smaller, more frequent, and easily digestible. This way, the employee is more likely to perceive the input as being helpful and not negative. Besides building a better bond with the employee and improving the quality of work, your efforts should produce a positive and lasting impact.


Four Examples of Development Goals for Employees

Is this your first time helping to build a development plan as a supervisor? If so, read below for a sample of potential employee development goals. Supervisor tips are also included below each goal.


1. Improve Active-Listening Techniques

Most of us know at least one person who frequently interrupts others during a meeting. As a part of that individual's development plan, it might be helpful to have the employee focus on practicing active listening. You'll want to ensure that the employee first understands the definition of active listening. Explain that active listening involves:

  • Paying close attention to what is said
  • Not interrupting
  • Processing the details
  • Understanding the "big picture"
  • Being receptive to non-verbal cues
  • Asking for clarification when appropriate

Supervisor Tip: Have the employee rephrase something you recently spoke about and ask them to explain it. You can also ask the employee to develop a list of questions about the conversation to ensure they actually absorbed details. 


2. Increase Positivity

Almost everyone could certainly improve in this area. When someone is upbeat, it positively impacts people around them in both social and work-related situations. As a supervisor, you probably have a few employees who could stand to be more positive. 

Supervisor Tip: To foster a positive work environment, ensure that your team members are aware of new goals and plans. Keeping employees in the loop will help them be more optimistic about potential changes. Employees will also remain positive if you allow flexible work schedules and breaks when needed. You will likely find they are more productive if given a little leeway. Whenever possible, it's always best to be proactive rather than reactive.  


3. Take Advantage of Training Opportunities

Most organizations provide basic training to their employees, but supervisors can expand on that training. When you sit down and talk with your team, understand what they want to do and how they want to grow. Provide opportunities for additional courses or workshops - even if they are outside of your organization. 

Supervisor Tip: These activities help employees learn from other professionals who share similar goals. Training and fine-tuning skills will increase the organization's productivity and enhance your employee's confidence and sense of worth.


4. Create a Career Path Plan

If you want your employees to thrive and consistently put forth their best work, they should know and understand their role as an employee. Spend time with them and understand their vision. Ask them where they see themselves in 5 - 10 years. Then, help them achieve their goals by having them write specific steps needed for this career path. 

Supervisor Tip: Assign your employees to trade organizations or place them on teams for new and upcoming projects. You want to motivate them to work toward achieving their desired career path.  


Development plans are a vital component of an organization's success and growth. Everyone within an organization can benefit from a development plan that helps them grow and holds them accountable for their actions. There are many development plan templates to choose from, but you must understand your people and your organization's goals to select the one that best fits your workforce. As a supervisor, you are integral in helping your employees learn and grow. By utilizing development plans, you can monitor, track, and watch your team succeed!


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