Development Actions Form

Talent development is the process of developing individual employees’ skills and abilities, as well as nurturing (building and maintaining) the organization’s overall talent pool. From recruiting and onboarding to succession planning, talent development is the engine that drives nearly every human resource (HR) process. 

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.

Why Use the Development Actions Form?

There are many benefits to establishing a robust talent development process – both for employees and the organization. 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

Nominate Succession Candidates

Build Success Profiles

Develop Talent

Develop Talent

Talent Development Strategies to Consider When Using the Development Actions Form

Using validated assessments to measure a candidate’s performance, potential, character, emotional intelligence, and other traits provides you the data you need to create development plans that address the gaps between a candidate’s current capabilities and where they need to be in the future. The development stage is where you execute a plan to fill in those gaps and monitor progress over time.

Here are some key talent management strategies to consider when preparing development plans:

Prepare Plans for High-Potential Candidates

At a minimum, we recommend creating a development plan (i.e., filling out a Development Actions Form) for each of your high-potential succession candidates. Ideally, you should have development plans in place for your entire Succession Bench; however, high-potentials are an excellent place to start.

Customize the Plan to Individual Needs

There are many methods (and combinations of methods) to fill development gaps, such as one-on-one executive coaching, stretch assignments, mentoring and so on. Select methods that best suit both the role and the individual. To access practical ideas for on-the-job talent development, explore SIGMA’s competency development guides.

Include Measurable Deliverables

Incorporate deliverables in each development plan that are measurable to ensure accountability. These metrics should be assessed every six months to ensure appropriate progress is being made.

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.

Give Candidates Time and Support

Ensure that succession candidates get the appropriate assistance and time to make progress in their skills. This will require backing from the individual’s leader (who often is the incumbent currently in the position). 

Review Plans Regularly

Take time to review each development plan regularly and, at minimum, annually. Discuss the plan and progress to-date with both the candidate and his or her supervisor. This is also the time to update the Candidate Profile and your overall Succession Bench, to ensure these key documents remain current. 

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.


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.

[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.

About the Author

Helen Schroeder

Marketing Coordinator

Helen completed a dual degree with Ivey Business School’s HBA program and Western University’s Honours Specialization in Psychology. As a Marketing Coordinator and Consultant she creates and manages content for SIGMA’s webpages, blogs, and coaching resources. Helen also assists in new product development, go-to-market strategy, and client consultation.