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Design development plan around person’s life, not just the job

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in Employee Benefits Program,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

by Janet M. Neal

Managers traditionally use employee development plans to give employees a say in the direction of their careers and to assess the organization’s future talent pool. Most use such plans as a checklist during an evaluation that helps the employee and supervisor look ahead at the employee’s career.

Switch to “holistic” development plans. Instead of using the tool just to focus on what an employee’s career would look like over the next one to five years, what if you used it to focus on what the person’s life would look like during that period?

What if—when noting the employee’s potential for promotion and the skills needed to obtain it—the employee had the opportunity to plan for the impact of those changes on all aspects of his or her life?

The result would be an employee who is more thoroughly prepared for potential change and more accepting of the time and resources necessary to make the desired moves.

An example: Let’s take Martha, an up-and-coming young employee with aspirations and potential for management. Using the holistic development plan approach, Martha would take a look at her career aspirations in light of her personal life and responsibilities.

Knowing that her husband was finishing his MBA in a year, Martha could see that taking on added responsibilities a year from now would work for her family, as her husband would have more time to watch the children while Martha put in extra hours for training.

Looking at the financial side of the plan, the couple decided the promotion would work to their benefit, and agreed it would be worth it for Martha to pursue her career aggressively starting in a year for the next two to three years.

Armed with a plan that encompasses all aspects of her life, Martha is now better able to make the commitments necessary to achieve her goals. Sound familiar? This approach borrows from another business model.

Think about a company looking to take on a corporate merger. As part of due diligence, executives would research the finances, culture, sales, potential opportunities and hidden risks. The firms that do their homework are better prepared and more committed to execute the changes necessary to achieve the goal.

The same applies to employees and their development. When they’re encouraged to take the time and given the tools and opportunity to explore all aspects of their lives that a career move would affect, they will be more committed to it and better able to adapt.  



Janet M. Neal is a coach and trainer specializing in employee productivity, and founder of Productivity Resource Group in Montclair, N.J. Contact her at 

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