The best way to put Employee Development Plans (EDPs) into place is to always keep in mind your organizational goals-the results you´re after. First, you need to be committed to discussion. That´s right: people have to talk. Even if they don´t like each other or are somehow threatened by one another (c´mon; let´s be honest-that´s one of the problems in companies today-the unspoken jealousies that come through in strange and sometimes not-so-nice ways. But getting back to more positive topics . . . you need to talk-frequently and with follow-up. And notes, too. There´s nothing wrong with pulling out a pad a paper and documenting what a colleague has said no matter how informal the conversation is. Let´s face it: regardless of your age and how many brain cells you might be losing on a daily basis it´s simply too hard to remember EVERYTHING. I once worked for a PR firm in Rochester, NY, and I learned a really great skill from a seasoned colleague. We´d sit down for a meeting with a client or prospect-it didn´t matter-and then someone would say, "Would you mind if I took some notes?" This accomplished a few things. First, it showed that we were interested. Well, of course you were interested you might say, but sometimes it makes sense to accentuate and emphasize and otherwise make it really crystal clear that you care about what someone is about to say. So there´s that.
But you can´t just talk. You have to be willing to give-and get-feedback, and that can get ugly, especially if some issues have been bubbling under the surface. Better to deal with those things as they arise. As you talk, remember to assess your progress and don´t be afraid of being brutally honest. That´s how change comes about and that´s how we overcome obstacles that may seem insurmountable but with conversation somehow you plow through.
You´ll also want to make a schedule for these discussions. Don´t wait months and months to talk about progress. You´d be amaze at how many changes can occur over just a two-day period. A heads-up meeting once a week might sound like it´s too often, but maybe that´s what´s required where you work. On the other hand, perhaps a monthly progress meeting will do the trick. An EDP should have some flexibility built in so that if something changes like a new task is added to someone´s job, it can be reflected in the plan, which brings up another point: individualizing each person´s EDP.
That seems obvious, doesn´t it, but too often we assume that just because people have the same title in the same company they´re going to have the same goals. That just isn´t true. In fact, you probably want people to have different goals. That way, they bring their own unique strengths to their jobs.
One size fits all usually when you´re talking about stretch gloves or something, not when it comes to the way employees perform.