Employee Development

Employee development should be considered a natural extension of training. Like training, this process is concerned with the growth of employees. However, unlike training which occurs in a short period and is targeted at specific KSAs, employee development unfolds over a longer period of time and targets a more general set of competencies. Thus, career development focuses on programs and systems that manage and track employees’ broad progress over many years – ensuring long term personal development.

Employee Development

An employee development program is a process developed to help people manage their careers, learn new things, and take steps to improve personally and professionally. Employee development is vital for the long term viability of any organization. Most organizations will pursue employee development on at least two fronts – succession planning and employee personal development.

    1. Succession planning is key to the success of organizations. An organization should always be concerned with the growth and development of its next generation of leaders. Because this development unfolds over many years, succession planning has to be a constant priority for HR managers and Senior Management. It usually takes 20 years to develop the CEO of a large organization, so one must start early and be very proactive to ensure that the pipeline of leadership talent for top positions is healthy. Remember how the success of Apple was so closely tied to its charismatic CEO, Steve Jobs, and how his untimely death in 2011 created much speculation as to the future of the company. It turns out that Apple did not miss a beat with its successor, Tim Cook, and is now one of the most profitable companies in the world with a market capitalization of $2 trillion! The development of Tim Cook as a successor of Steve Jobs did not occur overnight. Cook was carefully groomed, along with many others, to succeed Jobs just like the potential successor of Cook is currently being groomed at Apple.
    2. Employee personal development helps with employee motivation and retention. There are few things more motivating for employees than knowing that the company that they work for is committed to their professional development. Conversely, an employer who does not focus on employee learning is going to suffer from low performance, engagement and retention. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, a whopping 93% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. People want to know how their goals and aspirations fit with the plans of the company that they work for.

Some industry leading organizations put a lot of effort into employee development and even invest in what is classified as ‘corporate universities’. These in-house learning institutions are modeled after universities with programs, courses, and credits. CGI, for example, at the CGI Leadership Institute which offers courses such as CGI 101 and CGI 201 as well as courses on leadership and project management. Another famous example is McDonald’s Hamburger University which was founded in 1961 and has more than 275,000 graduates. This video describes the role that McDonald’s Hamburger University plays in developing leaders of the company.


High potential programs

High potential (hi-po) programs are concerned with the early identification and the development of employees who have the potential to assume leadership positions in the future. If we would transpose such a program in the hockey world, it would be a system that identifies pee-wee players with the most potential and make sure that they get the coaching and the team environment needed to develop into elite NHL players. Keys to these programs are (a) the identification of talent and (b) the development of this talent. First, potential has to be identified early. Large organizations often flag hi-po’s in their very first years in the company. This early identification is difficult to do and often leads to false positives (or employees identified as hi-po’s who do not develop into superior executives). This is the reason why companies tend to cast a wide net and identify as many hi-po’s as possible. After talent has been identified, it needs to be groomed. Over time, the careers of hi-po’s are carefully managed to make sure that they reach their full potential. For example, HR managers often use developmental experiences such as international assignments to make sure that hi-po’s are put in situations where they can grow.

Career development plans

A career development plan usually includes a list of short- and long-term goals that employees have pertaining to their current and future jobs, and a planned sequence of formal and informal training and experiences needed to help them reach their goals. As this chapter has discussed, the organization can and should be instrumental in defining what types of training. Both in-house and external that can be used to help develop employees.

Figure 6.2. Sample Career Development Plan Developed by an Employee and Commented on by Her Manager

Today’s Date February 15, 2020
Employee Sammie Smith
Current job title Clerk, Accounts Payable
  • Develop management skills
  • Learn accounting standards
  • Promoted to Accounts Payable Manager
Estimated Costs
  • Management training
  • Peachtree accounting software Advanced training
  • Earn AAAS online degree in accounting
  • Take tax certification course
  • Communications training
Completion Date Spring of 2020
Manager Notes:
  • In-house training offered yearly: “Reading Body Language,” and “Writing Development,” and “Running an Effective Meeting”
  • External Training needed: Peachtree software, AAAS Degree, Tax Certification Training Course
  • Assign Sammie to Dorothy Redgur, the CFO for mentorship
  • Next steps: Sammie should develop a timeline for when she plans to complete the seminars.

The budget allows us to pay up to $1,000 per year for external training for all employees. Talk with Sammie about how to receive reimbursement.

As you can see, the employee developed goals and made suggestions on the types of training that could help her meet her goals. Based on this data, the manager suggested in-house training and external training for her to reach her goals within the organization.




LinkedIn 2018 Workforce Learning Report. https://learning.linkedin.com/resources/workplace-learning-report-2018


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Human Resources Management - 2nd Ontario Edition Copyright © 2022 by Elizabeth Cameron is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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