Why do I need a development plan?

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

I had an interesting conversation while at a meetup I host in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

One of the attendees works for a company that has moved into a more hands-off approach to each employee's development plan. When I say "hands-off", I'm not inferring they don't care, it's more that they want the employee to take responsibility for their development.

She went on to explain that she has two people on her team who aren't showing any desire to create a development plan, and as their manager, she is concerned. I can't say as I blame her. As a good leader, you want all of those in your charge to have a plan or path to move upwards or simply towards something that provides them with purpose.

So, what to do when you have people who aren't interested in creating such a path?

My initial response to her was that they must not see the value of creating a development plan, so maybe find a way to impress upon them why having one is important and what they can gain. Maybe even to provide examples and stories of how not only having a plan but working that plan can bring them closer to their goals.

However, as I write this maybe they think it's just a written document with no real action behind it. I've come across this. I've been in companies that require a development plan, but through experience, everyone knows the company will not support the employee's growth in any shape or form...so it's just this silly HR formality that is a waste of everyone's time.

There could also be the possibility that the employees are simply just not interested in development right now. Maybe they are happy in their current role and can see themselves there for a few years. Maybe they are the type of people that will always be content with where they are and have no desire to move up the ladder (so to speak).

My point is that we assume people want to develop or that they must have career aspirations when the reality is we are all different. Some people know exactly what path they want to forge, some have an idea and need a good leader to help them find their way and others are simply happy chappies with their current state.

Maybe the key sits with us as leaders to be "ok" with those who aren't looking for a development plan.

Lead with Greatness!


(Original Post Date: 6/19/2019)