The Importance of Development Opportunities and Priorities

An important step in growing as an employee or as a leader is identifying priorities for development and considering the opportunities that will lead to improvement in these areas. For companies looking to implement or improve a succession plan, focusing on developing leaders is essential to success.

To begin developing leaders, every company should start with a basic understanding of what skills are needed for critical roles, and how their current employees and candidates for succession measure up to these requirements. Each succession candidate should have a completed candidate profile that is regularly reviewed and updated. Consequently, with these objective metrics of current performance, it is easy to pinpoint which skills an individual should prioritize. Together with HR and their leaders, an employee can narrow their development efforts and track their opportunities to grow their skills. To help make tracking easy, SIGMA has created the Development Actions Form for both leaders and employees to use as part of their Individual Development Plan. You can download a fillable version of the form.

development actions form
Development Actions Form

How to Use This Activity

Top Development Areas

In previous posts, we’ve provided guidance on how to choose which development opportunity to focus on first. We recommend looking both at assessment and performance appraisal results, as well as those development opportunities that are realistic for the employee. It’s also important to consider which skills an employee is interested and invested in developing, as this will help them sustain their motivation over longer periods of time. Leaders and employees should set development goals together, and share these goals with HR as part of a robust performance management system.

Development Actions

Once goals are formalized and written down, leaders and employees can begin thinking about how to achieve them. The Development Actions Form provides space to write in each activity that will help an employee develop their skills for a specific competency. Although development can be exciting, be sure to focus on only a few goals at a time, as too many competing priorities can stall progress in all areas.

Assigning realistic timelines to these goals is critical to success. Timelines can help keep individuals accountable and serve as a way for leaders and HR to monitor whether an employee’s progress is on track.

  • 3-6 Months. These goals should be inspired by development areas that an employee can work on in the short-term. They describe actions an individual can start to engage in immediately to contribute to skill development.
  • 6-12 Months. These goals should focus on development areas that will take continued long-term focus for improvement. However, make sure leaders and employees recognize which of the most ambitious development actions are better left for the next timeline.
  • 12 Months. Goals in this window of time should be the result of consistent effort and small, but significant, improvements over the year. It can be easy to lose track of progress on these goals, so pay special attention to tracking and making good notes. As a result, this will help employees recall their successes and setbacks when looking back. 

Notes

Update this section with detailed information on particular obstacles and challenges throughout the process that are not necessarily about a single development area or action. For example, note any environmental or contextual factors that might inhibit an employee’s progress. This might spark additional developmental conversations with leaders and employees, and is also valuable information for HR departments looking to support employee growth in the company.

How SIGMA Can Help

At SIGMA, we’ve designed user-friendly and practical templates to help you develop your employees. Find our succession planning tools and templates FREE for download on our website, and contact us for more information on getting the most of succession planning in your organization.