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Development: Why Have a Plan If You’re Not Going to Execute?

By Dave Fisher

Quick! What’s on your development plan? No peeking. And, if you can’t recall, you’re not alone. We’ve all, at some point in our work lives, carefully crafted a robust development plan designed to take our career to the next level only to find that, well, real work got in the way of actually executing that carefully crafted development plan. I doubt any of us would argue that the vast majority of development plans eventually end up in the electronic recycle bin. The question is, why?

Development PlanI recently hosted an webcast where a group of HR and talent management professionals described the challenges they face preparing frontline leaders. We talked about three ways to ensure the effectiveness of development planning:

  1. Show how development supports the business. Development, particularly for future leaders, has to start with business objectives. If development isn’t tied directly to the organization’s business strategy, then it becomes just another activity or requirement that leaders and direct reports must complete before they can focus on what’s important – running a successful operation. Showing how the development of future leaders ensures the ongoing success of the business is just the beginning. Ensuring that each individual’s development plan focuses on personal development needs, the team or group needs, and the needs of the organization, will go a long way toward building the level of support needed to ensure successful development.
  2. Involve managers to build commitment for the development process. Development has to be a shared responsibility. Managers can’t force a top-down approach to development, and employees can’t create and implement an effective development plan that supports business objectives without the insights, perspective, and support of their managers. Managers bring a broader view of the organization to the development planning process and can ensure that employees are building skills that can be immediately applied to benefit the individual, the team, and the organization.
  3. Give people the skills and knowledge they need to design and implement development plans.  Too often managers don’t know how to identify development needs, let alone help and support their employees as they begin to implement their plans. And, employees typically don’t know how to create and execute an effective development plan. Both leaders and employees need to know how to ensure development plans support individual development needs, the needs of the team or group, and the needs of the organization and, more importantly, how to have a meaningful development discussion.

This webcast was the second in a four-part series we’re hosting with based on our article Where Are Your “Ready-Now” Leaders? Join us as we explore the four steps to preparing technical experts for the challenges of leadership.

Dave Fisher is a leadership solutions manager at DDI.

Posted: 26 Feb, 2014,
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