Plan and Track Individual Talent Development

Talent development is the most time-consuming stage in SIGMA’s six-step succession planning process, but it is also the most important. To help leaders do this well, SIGMA has created the Development Actions Form. The Development Actions Form is a template that can be used with employees to plan and track their individual talent development. The purpose of this worksheet is to clearly identify areas for development and track progress toward goal attainment over time.

high potential talent development


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Why Use the Development Actions Form?

The Development Actions Form is an important tool because it allows organizations to standardize their talent development efforts. This Form provides a ready-made, easy-to-use template that organizations can use to guide their talent development efforts. In particular, the Development Actions Form can help organizations to:

  1. Standardize and scale the talent development process. When talent development processes are standardized, they are much easier to replicate and therefore scale across different teams, departments, and organizations.
  2. Create detailed development plans. The Development Actions Form helps individuals set SMART goals. It challenges candidates to move beyond vague intentions to clearly list a variety of short-, medium-, and long-term goals.
  3. Provide feedback. The Development Actions Form includes space to track progress. This can help candidates identify their own movement towards goals, and it can also help leaders provide feedback and evaluate performance.

Research suggests that structured and evaluated individual development is more likely to result in lasting behavior change.[1, 2] From an organizational perspective, measuring and monitoring employee efforts over time also makes it more likely that concrete objectives will be attained.[3] The Development Actions Form allows human resource practitioners, coaches, managers, and leaders to localize and organize their development process, making it more likely that goals will be achieved.


Benefits of Using the Development Actions Form

The Development Actions Form is a critical tool for succession planning. It shows how to transition employees from being potential candidates to viable successors using a structured development plan. Apart from supporting the succession planning process, the Development Actions Form can also help organizations to:

  • Set effective short-, medium-, and long-term goals.
  • Maintain accountability towards goals over time.
  • Help employees track and observe their own progress.
  • Help leaders evaluate their employees’ progress.
  • Help organizations understand what types of talent development opportunities their employees are seeking.


How to Use the Development Actions Form

Although succession candidates should take responsibility for their own development, the Develop Talent stage of an organization’s succession plan is best managed with the help of a trusted leader or coach. At SIGMA, we recommend providing support to candidates as they complete the form and making this a key part of one-on-one discussions about the candidate’s development needs and priorities. Once the Development Actions Form has been completed and the plan is ready to be implemented, we recommend holding further coaching meetings to monitor progress.

Before completing the Development Actions Form, make sure Success Profiles have been created for the role in question. We recommend using the Candidate Profile to identify candidate skill gaps first. We will refer back to these skill gaps when selecting top development areas and brainstorming development actions on the Development Actions Form.

Ready to get started? Follow the steps below to create an individual talent development plan for a succession candidate using the Development Actions Form.

Identify Critical Roles

1. Gather Succession Candidate Information.

Begin by listing the succession position that the individual is a candidate for, as well as the name of the candidate in question and their current position.

Nominate Succession Candidates

2. Indicate Top Talent Development Opportunities.

Indicate the top opportunities for personal development for this candidate. These opportunities for development should be informed by the gaps identified in the Candidate Succession Profile worksheet as well as the candidate’s personal motivation.

Build Success Profiles

3. Select Short-, Medium-, and Long-Term Development Areas.

From the list of top development opportunities, select which ones will be focused on in the next 3-6, 6-12, and 12+ months.

Develop Talent

4. Plan Your Talent Development Activities.

For each development area, list a task, experience, or other activity that will be used to develop the skill. Think of job shadowing opportunities, cross-departmental tasks, stretch assignments, and more. For each activity, specify the timeframe within which it is to be completed.

Develop Talent

5. Add Notes.

Use the notes section at the bottom of the form to record any extra information that might be relevant to the candidate’s development.

Consider a Range of Learning Modalities and Contexts

While filling out the Development Actions Form, be sure to consider a range of development activities across a variety of contexts. Succession candidates will be more well-rounded and accomplished if their training includes self-development, support from other leaders, cross-functional experience, and international project involvement. Note: It may be necessary to look beyond a succession candidate’s department, or even outside of the organization, to provide such diverse talent development opportunities. Keep track of which development activities are completed, as well as those that are recommended for future growth.

Need Help Getting Started?

SIGMA’s Succession Planning Launch offers a simple and cost-effective way to build a robust succession planning process and ensure your organization’s leadership is positioned for success and prepared for tomorrow. Contact us to learn how our consultants can deliver a detailed 12-month succession plan for each member of your leadership team in just two half-day sessions.


[1] Baron, L., & Morin, L. (2010). The impact of executive coaching on self-efficacy related to management soft-skills. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 31, 18-38.

[2] Sonesh, S. C., Coultas, C. W., Lacerenza, C. N., Marlow, S. L., Benishek, L. E., & Salas, E. (2015). The power of coaching: A meta-analytic investigation. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice,
8, 73-95.

[3] Harkin, B., Webb, T. L., Chang, B. P. I., Prestwich, A., Conner, M., Kellar, I., …, & Sheeran, P. (2016). Does monitoring goal progress promote goal attainment? A meta-analysis of the experimental evidence. Psychological
Bulletin, 142, 198-229.


Talk to an Expert


If you’re interested in learning more about SIGMA’s succession planning services, Glen is the guy for you. He knows our material inside and out, and can tell you first-hand stories of the work we’ve done with our clients. And just so you know, Glen doesn’t do sales – he does solutions. That might mean answering your questions, giving you our best tips and tricks, or pointing you to our FREE resources. Send him an email or give him a call! He’d love to chat with you.