Every employee wants to grow in their role, but how do you turn that ambition into action?
By making them take ownership of their own learning process. It’s not enough for managers to hand down training to-do lists to their employees.
In the past couple of years, more L&D departments have started asking employees to own their career development by defining their career paths, determining what skills they need to learn to get there, and making plans to learn those skills.
Kickstart your training programs by motivating employees with a personalized development roadmap and encouraging them to write and review each other’s unique skill development plans.
Read on to discover a reliable process for supporting employees in creating, reviewing, and executing a skill development plan.
Why Your Employees Need a Personal Skill Development Plan
Having employees create their skill development plans makes them more invested in their learning journey and ensures that plans are specific, unique, and useful.
You can think of a skill development plan as a personalized learning roadmap. It details the skills employees need to acquire to move forward with their careers and outlines a concrete plan for learning those skills. It turns vague ambitions into concrete actions.
In many companies, L&D departments or team leaders create skill development plans for their employees. Not only is this time-consuming for managers, but the resulting lists are also generic and sometimes inaccurate. Because a third party can’t have a grip on each employee’s specific skillsets and goals, the plans end up vague and non-specific.
In contrast, when employees play an active role in designing their own skill development plans, they are more invested in completing them. Personal goals are more specific, detailed, and accurate because they have a better understanding of where they are in their skill development journey and what they need to learn to move forward.
Encourage employees to take ownership of their skill development plans by personalizing them based on their specific learning styles and preferences. Give them the freedom to choose when, where, and how they want to learn new skills, and they’re more likely to complete their plan.
How Peer Review Strengthens Skill Development
After employees create their skill development plans, you need a second process to validate those plans. Peer review is a simple method for ensuring each employee’s objectives are realistic and in keeping with larger company goals.
It’s time-consuming for a manager to review each employee’s skill development plan in detail. Peer review, where employees review each other’s work, is more efficient because each employee only has to check one coworker’s plan.
But the benefits of peer review go beyond just efficiency. Reading another person’s development plan can be inspiring. Employees get the chance to see how their coworkers set goals and tackle challenges. They also can offer nuanced advice based on their personal experience.
Encourage employees to offer constructive criticism on each other’s plans. They should make sure their coworker’s goals make sense in the context of the position and align with larger company goals. If possible, the reviewer should suggest resources or related ideas that can strengthen their colleague’s plans.
4-Step Process for Stronger Skill Development Plans
Here’s an easy process for encouraging employees to create their personal skill development plans complete with peer review.
1. Employee Self-Assessment
Have employees create a personal skill inventory and run a skills gap analysis on themselves.
First, employees should define their short- and mid-range career goals. Ask them to focus on what they would like to achieve in the next year: Do they want to secure a promotion? Earn a certification? Learn or reinforce specific skills?
Once they know their goals, it’s time to define where they are currently, skill-wise. Have them complete a personal skills inventory to assess their current skill levels, education, and experience.
Encourage employees to break their abilities down into three categories:
- Tools: Proficiency in specific software or equipment, e.g., Excel proficiency, copy machine skills, or Salesforce certifications.
- Skills: Areas of expertise, e.g., negotiation skills, team management expertise, event planning experience.
- Tasks: Duties the employee performs, e.g., bookkeeping, inventory, creating monthly reports.
It’s a good idea to create a rubric or one-page sheet that helps employees organize their skills inventory. You can see some examples here and here.
After assessing their current skill level, employees should look at where they would like to be a year down the road. Suppose an employee wants a promotion to a senior manager position. In that case, they might look at the job description for that role and highlight the differences between expectations and their current skill set. The result is a list of skills and abilities that require further development.
2. Plan Creation
Once employees have their list of skills, the next step is prioritizing and making plans to pursue each skillset.
Employees should prioritize which skills they want to develop first, instead of trying to tackle every task simultaneously. A good rule is to go after the skills that will have the most impact first, but plans may also change based on learning opportunities and personal preferences.
For each skill, employees should make a concrete plan for closing the gap between where they are and where they want to be. Methods include: taking an online course, attending a seminar, shadowing a coworker, or achieving an official certification. The plan they create for getting from Point A to Point B is a component of their skill development plan.
Remind employees that reasonable goals are specific, measurable, and actionable. It should be obvious when the employee has reached their goal.
For example, if the employee’s goal is to become proficient at contract writing, they might plan to take a specific course and then shadow a coworker as they write several contracts, then write one themselves. Once they’ve successfully written a contract with minimal assistance, they can consider their goal achieved.
3. Peer Review
After employees complete their list of goals, use a peer review platform to let employees assess each other’s plans. This peer review step will validate the skill development plan by ensuring it is realistic, detailed, and actionable.
While you could do this manually by asking employees to trade plans with their colleagues, an online peer review platform makes it significantly easier to monitor the peer review process and ensure that everyone has access to a timely and thorough review. It also gives you the option to do anonymous reviews, which promotes more frank and honest responses.
Either way, you want to make sure that reviewers leave detailed, useful feedback by providing a rubric that they can use to evaluate their peer’s plan. A rubric is a simple assessment tool that guides the review process via prompts. Your rubric might ask reviewers to answer questions like:
- Can this plan realistically be completed in one year?
- Will this plan be completed too quickly? Is it ambitious enough?
- Are the writer’s goals specific, measurable, and actionable?
- What is one thing the writer could do to strengthen their plan?
- Do you have any other advice for this employee?
Make sure employees understand the concept of constructive criticism. Comments should be helpful, not negative.
4. Revision and Execution
Finally, employees receive their reviews, apply comments and advice to their roadmap, then put their plan into action.
Employees should use their peer’s feedback to revise and perfect their skill development plan. After that, they will meet with their manager or formally set their goals for the next year. They’ll track their monthly progress (either manually or using a goal-setting system like Lattice or Smartcove.
Schedule time annually for employees to assess their progress and create new skill development plans.
Use Eduflow for Easier Peer Review
The skills assessment, planning, and review process can get complicated fast, so it’s essential to give employees the right tools to simplify and clarify the process.
Eduflow is one of those tools. Our peer review functionality makes it easy for colleagues to review each other’s plans and leave nuanced, anonymous feedback. Automating this step of the process means you can quickly scale peer review to work for hundreds or even thousands of employees without increasing your administrative overhead.
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