How To Write a Staff Development Plan (With Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 22 November 2022

Published 4 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A staff development plan is a beneficial tool that professionals can use to grow professionally and personally. It can help managers, leaders and HR professionals achieve individual and group objectives. Learning how to create a development plan allows you to help your team members perfect their skills, learn new things, be more productive and expand their knowledge and networks. In this article, we discuss what a staff development plan is and show how to create one.

What is a staff development plan?

A staff development plan, also known as a work development plan, is a process for helping your team members improve their skills for their current position and acquire skills and knowledge for new duties and responsibilities in a company. It can prepare them for a leadership position or prepare a more senior professional for a position in other departments.

Related: How To Create an Individual Development Plan (With Template)

Benefits of a work development plan

Here are the benefits of crafting a work development plan:

  • Help the company attract qualified candidates: Hiring can be competitive, so if the employer offers development plans, they can attract high-performing professionals Also, job candidates who value development programmes can be eager to perform and grow with the company.

  • Improve your engagement: A work development plan can help managers engage with team members, which can strengthen their relationships.

  • Improve your performance: Goals usually involve practising new roles or learning new skills. These new skills can help team members improve their performance in their current jobs.

  • Improve the company's operations and business performance: If an individual consistently learns and grows, they can boost their efficiency and help the company generate more profit.

  • Guide the company towards future goals: A strong team development plan can help an organisation and its staff achieve its future goals, whether you're developing the skills necessary to perform well or training team members for future leadership roles.

Related: What Is a Personal Development Plan? With Template

How to create a work development plan

If you're a manager or a team leader, here are the steps you can take to create a work development plan:

1. Set goals

When creating a work development plan, consider the major milestones or goals the staff has in mind. This can give their work development plan a sense of direction with which you can match the more granular components. For example, an individual's goal might be advancing to a higher position. This goal is lofty but still realistic, and it's a big enough achievement that the team member gets motivated to put in a lot of effort to attain it.

It's also important to consider the company's goals. Make sure the company's goals and the professional's goals align and support one another. Work development plans can be a great way to support your team and also address the skills gap that many hiring managers struggle with. This can be key to making sure that work development plans are symbolic in practice.

Related: Career Development Plan: Definition, Guide and Example

2. Conduct a skills gap analysis

Consider conducting a skills gap analysis to determine where a team member needs improvement. A skills gap analysis is an assessment process that organisations use to determine the skills or abilities that their team members can develop. For example, in a technology company, an assessment of an individual's current skills can include specific applications such as selling software products, designing databases and securing data files. The results can provide insight into what skills a team member needs to develop or acquire to meet business goals more effectively. There are three primary assessors that a skills gap analysis focuses on. These include:

  • The professional's skill proficiency

  • The professional's frequency of skills usage

  • Level of professional's skills important to job performance

3. Choose the right training option

Training is an essential activity for professional development. It can enhance team members' hard and soft skills, improve knowledge and increase the confidence required to complete tasks. When a team member's confidence increases, they are likely to perform better at work. Moreover, when you dedicate time and resources to developing staff, team members may feel valued and appreciated and this can motivate them to put more effort into their work. Here are some training models that can help your team progress:

  • Specialised project: Developing a specialised project different from the typical day-to-day responsibilities can help a team member learn new skills, develop their existing skills or work with new teams.

  • Individual coaching: Coaching involves a senior staff member working closely with young or inexperienced professionals. Coaching might involve teaching by word of mouth, actual demonstration of work and walking with professionals by answering their questions.

  • Mentorship: Working with an industry expert can help a professional learn more about their speciality. Mentorship can be a great programme for any team member who wants to explore careers in other departments, as they can shadow the expert and ask questions.

  • Networking: Networking can help professionals discuss their professional development with co-workers who have similar goals. You can organise a networking opportunity with staff or managers with similar development plans to find out what others do.

Related: Apprenticeship vs. Internship: What Are the Differences?: What Are the Differences?

4. Set performance metrics and appraisals

You can develop your team by setting measurable performance metrics. Establish specific targets and performance objectives so your team has tangible goals to meet. As they hit each target, their motivation to achieve even higher performance levels can increase. If done correctly, performance appraisals can identify areas where further training is necessary. Appraisals can also help identify team members who are qualified for promotions and salary increases.

5. Use a development plan template

Once you have chosen the right training option, consider using a work development plan template to make your job easier. You can use this template as a guide to help you tailor both the individual staff evelopment plan and the plan for the company. There are two primary types of work development plan templates. These include:

  • Individual work development plan: This can help a team member reflect on their personal career goals and how they can align their skills or abilities to the company's goals.

  • Succession planning template: This template can help you look towards the future to determine where the company needs to expand or hire. It can also articulate what resources are already present and if they require further development.

Tips for implementing a development plan

Here are a few tips to help you implement a development plan effectively:

Track results and use data to make an informed decision

To determine if your staff development plan is working, monitor the success of your efforts and create a plan to address any issues. Consider meeting regularly with the team member to determine how it's going and what they would like to know more about. Find out what challenges make it hard to follow through, such as interruptions and not enough hours in the workday. Also, find a way to make their training easier and more effective.

Provide regular feedback

You can help develop team members by giving constructive feedback throughout the year. Give feedback about an individual's performance, conduct and attitude. Also, recognise team members for the work well done and encourage them to improve on specific areas for better results in the future.

Related: 10 Examples of Positive Feedback (With Tips for Giving It)

Eliminate barriers

Some organisations have compartmentalised teams. You can help develop your team by eliminating rigidity in the organisational structure and processes. Allow for cross-functional collaboration, which is essential for learning, sharing and flourishing.

Encourage self-development

Team members may follow the management's lead, so setting a good example is important. Leaders who develop themselves professionally are likely to encourage staff to develop themselves too. When a manager takes steps to learn, grow and improve, other colleagues may realise that development is an integral part of the company's culture and are likely to follow this example.

Related: How To Create an Individual Development Plan (With Template)

Work development plan example

Each work development plan may look different. You can use the following example to draft your own work development plan:

Today's date: September 25, 2021
Name of staff member: Jackie Lee
Current job title: Clerk, Accounts Payable


  • Learn accounting standards

  • Develop management skills

  • Advance to accounts payable manager position

Training needed:

  • Advanced training on a specific accounting software

  • Management training

  • Communications training

  • Take a course on tax certification

  • Complete an online degree in accounting

Estimated costs:

  • Accounting degree, $4,000

  • Peachtree training, $300 for two days seminar

  • Tax certification certificate, $800 for an intensive three-day conference

Completion date: December 1, 2021

Manager notes:

  • Assign Jackie to Matthew, the CFO for mentorship

  • In-house training offered each year: "Running an Effective Meeting," "Writing Development" and "Reading Body Language"

  • External training needed: Tax certification training course, accounting degree and Peachtree software

  • Next steps: Jackie should develop a timeline for when he plans to complete the training or seminars

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