7 Tips for Realizing Employee Development Goals


Employee Development Goals

Employee development goals are long-term objectives that help each member of your team not only perform their job, but they are learning-oriented so that each individual has the opportunity to grow and take on new responsibilities. Conversely, performance goals are typically short-term objectives connected to overall company goals.

In order to realize long-term organizational success, help employees learn and grow. One way you can do this is to transform the oft-dreaded annual employee performance evaluation into a positive part of every employee’s career development plan.

Improving Performance Feedback

No reputable company wants to hire employees only to later out and eliminate the weak performers.

Unfortunately, when managers identify employee development goals but fail provide feedback along the way, they make the evaluation an uncomfortable, less-than-fruitful experience for everyone involved.

It doesn’t have to be that way!  Everyone I know appreciates constructive feedback.

  • Make performance feedback a positive part of every employee development plan.
  • Make the setting employee development goals inclusive so that employees are invested in their career development plan
  • Turn the employee performance evaluation process into a positive and ongoing learning experience

See also: 3 Tips for Your Employee Performance Goals (WHY-SMART)

Employee Development Goals

Positive Feedback, Positive Results

Imagine applying these concepts to your child. We’ll use youth basketball, specifically teaching your child how to dribble a basketball.

First, goal setting means explaining the basics of dribbling, such as maintaining a proper stance, bouncing the ball with her fingertips, and keeping her head up in order to see the entire court.

Next, demonstrate proper behavior, and then let her player try. Typically, she will do a great job in one or two areas, but might fail to get all three parts correct.

For example, if she does a great job with stance and dribbling but makes the common mistake of looking at the ball, this is your opportunity to provide performance feedback.

Because she’s your child, you’ll do this positively 🙂

  • “Good balance, nice dribble, now keep your head up,”

She’ll adjust and make the necessary correction, but might lose focus on one of the other tasks

  • “Nice dribble, head up, now keep your balance.”

After enough repetitions, she’ll piece it all together.

Catch her “doing something right,” and you will get the performance you desire.

More important, do this with positive, developmental outcomes in mind, and you’ll get a much more favorable response. Now, apply this to your business’ performance and developmental goals. 

7 Tips for Achieving Developmental Goals

Any career development plan must begin with clear definitions of what must be accomplished, including goals that are WHY-SMART.

Here are 7 tips for achieving your professional development goals together:

  1. Encourage the employee to discuss their ideas and goals and reach agreement on goals to foster a spirit of cooperation.
  2. Maintain regular contact and meet at least daily or weekly.
  3. Use these impromptu meetings to discuss any obstacles and provide performance feedback.
  4. These “foot locker” sessions are your coaching opportunities. Use them to help your employee learn and grow instead of delaying your feedback that is perceived as “gotcha” and critical.
  5. Conduct periodic, semi-formal performance reviews to serve as your waypoints that will enable both parties to make any necessary course corrections or adjustments. (See WHY-SMART goals)
  6. Conduct these interim reviews in “pencil” at least quarterly, to reduce much of the inherent stress associated with the annual evaluation.
  7. Repeat the above steps to build trust and continue helping your employees achieve their professional development goals.

Maximizing Developmental Goals

Career development plans require some energy, but with the right habits, you can transform perceptions of your employee evaluation process to everyone’s advantage. 

Encouraging Teamwork in the Workplace

During my discussion with the transportation management firm’s CEO, I shared these observations.

The bonus program negatively affected employee morale because it was causing project managers to compete with one another.

Instead of awarding bonuses solely upon the performance of the project they led, I suggested that he change it to promote teamwork within his workplace.

In the future, the entire team, project managers and staff, would receive bonuses based on the company’s total, annual performance.

This change dramatically affected attitudes, from being competitive to cooperative, combative to supportive.

By improving teamwork in your workplace, you’ll improve productivity and reduce turnover.

  • What can you do to increase employee engagement and create a stronger team culture?


Tom's Biography

​Tom Crea is a leadership expert, decorated career Army Officer, and Blackhawk Helicopter pilot.  Because of his proven skills, he was hand selected to run the Army’s leadership development program at two Boston colleges, where he and his team transformed college students into combat leaders. 

(Discover how to be a Guiding Light — 3-step process)

Today, he is a Servant Leadership ambassador: An author, keynote speaker, and leadership development coach. He is also a  radio show host.

Tom has a B.S. & M.C.S. in Computer Science and a M.A. in Political Science and loves coaching basketball and spending time with his wife and two boys.

Creating a Culture: 

Tom’s proudest leadership moment came when his unit was called to war in Iraq after he had rotated out. His replacement was not able to perform, so members he developed stepped up to lead; they attribute their success to the leadership Tom instilled in each of them. Today, the Blackhawk leadership way.