No CEO wants top performing employees to resign. Try something different so your team members have a new reason to stay with your company.
As a Vistage chief executive chair, I lead a group of high-performing CEOs and business owners who create loyal company cultures through cohesive and trusting conversations. With the right professional development platform, you and your employees will achieve clear expectations resulting in stronger loyalty.
Throughout this entire exercise, you need to assure your staff of the objectives to help them identify ways to enjoy their jobs. Some might be cautious if you haven’t had these types of discussions before.
When scheduling the meeting, be fully committed to taking as much time as you need. Prepare yourself beforehand for a more thorough conversation that also shows your sincere commitment to the employee’s growth. This professional development plan includes five elements.
1. Future goals
Employers and employees come with different perspectives when first exploring how someone aligns with the company’s goals. These assumptions can negatively affect plans for both parties. By helping your employee feel comfortable having honest conversations, you are both more likely to start aiming for the same target.
Before sharing your short- and long-term goals with individual team members, ask the staff to share their expectations. This simple step prevents biased answers that mirror your comments. If their goals don’t align with yours, take some time to understand why by having honest conversations.
2. Skills for goal success
Next, you and the employee should identify the top three skillsets critical to achieve the agreed upon short-term and long-term specific goals, regardless of the employee’s abilities.
3. Strengths, growth opportunities and accomplishments
This section openly explores the employee’s strengths, and skills needed to achieve your agreed-upon objectives.
Together, discuss the strengths already shown on the job. Start by encouraging them to share their thoughts, to help you understand their perspective. Then you can confirm and add to their list.
Now, use this same process for the skillsets needed. This is not a discussion of “weaknesses.” These are “growth opportunities,” and you’re committed to helping the employee build a development plan for the next five years.
Together, identify the most critical skillsets that need a plan. If a job promotion is one of the long-term goals, identifying a future job description helps uncover skill gaps. As the leader, keep a positive mindset toward these exciting goals.
Finally, recognize some notable accomplishments in a way that encourages the employee to keep moving forward toward the goals.
4. Create a professional development plan
This next step details “how” and “what” your employee can do to meet the goals you’ve agreed on. Break each goal into measurable steps so you can both see the progress. Using the acronym “SMART” helps assure that both of you agree on the definition of success.
S = Specific:A direct, detailed and meaningful goal.
M = Measurable:The goal is quantifiable, so progress and success are clear.
A = Attainable:The goal is realistic, and the employee has the tools and resources to meet it.
R = Realistic:The goal is worthwhile and aligns with the company’s mission.
T = Timely:The goal has a deadline.
Break the “SMART” goal into quarterly, measurable milestones to create specific targets along the way. Some milestones rest solely on the employee to achieve. Others might include mentorship, internal resources or outside help. An employee who takes advantage of training outside the company must use the new skills by a specific date you’ve both identified. Make sure that the completion of these goals includes successful application with the team.
Ask your employees to hold themselves accountable. In other words, without prompting from you, staff should report their progress regularly. Be sure to celebrate and recognize their achievements along the way. Your team will judge your commitment to their success.
Stand out from other companies by dedicating your time toward professional development plans with each of your key staff. Once you integrate this tool with your direct reports, encourage them to use this with their team members.
Your entire team benefits individually and as a whole when using this professional development process.