Help Employees Grow by Building Professional Improvement Plans
Most managers say that employees are their most important asset. Their actions must be consistent with their words. Good managers take responsibility for the people who work for them. Employees are paid a good wage, are treated with respect and have individual professional improvement plans.
All employees must have the opportunity to grow. This includes everyone from meter operators to mail clerks to high performing supervisors. While the scope of the personal improvement plan is different for each person, the components are the same:
- personal goal statement
- long-range plans to achieve that goal
- objectives for the upcoming year
- regular progress reviews
Allow ample time for your employees to write their personal goal statements. Employees should also be given wide latitude when developing their goals. Goals should not be limited to their current job, but should include their aspirations for the future. A goal may be as brief as "continue to be the best printer operator in the shop." Or the goal could encompass something larger, such as "complete my degree in law enforcement and become a state trooper." Remember, this is the employee's goal for themselves, not your goals for them.
Take the time to learn why your employee has chosen that personal goal. Perhaps they're happy in their current job, and have no desire to move up in the organization. Or they may be using this job as a stepping stone to other departments in the company. They may want to have a career in the mailing industry, progress through the ranks, and eventually apply for your job. Talk to your employees to understand the motives underlying their goals.
With your employee, map out the steps they must take to achieve their goals. Include the long-term and short-term results they must achieve to be successful. If they want to become a supervisor, list the classes they must complete to be considered for such a position. If they want to take external courses, include the performance measurements they must meet to be eligible for tuition reimbursement.
The plan should include intermediate objectives that lead to their goal. For example, an employee can't move directly from clerk to manager. They must first become a senior operator, then a supervisor, and then a manager. Each of these steps will require individual plans for professional improvement.
Write a list of measurable tasks for the next 12 months, including target dates for completion. Link their plans to the unit's needs. For example:
Name: Jane Smith
Job: Inkjet Printer Operator
Goal: Become a supervisor in Print Services
Intermediary Goal: Be promoted to senior print operator
Steps to complete this year: Cross training
Conduct progress reviews quarterly. Give praise for tasks completed successfully. Question why steps haven't been taken. Explain the long-term impact of their current performance to achieving their goal. Ask what you can do to help. If necessary, recommend other sources, like Human Resources, for assistance.
Each year, have your employees challenge their goals. Circumstances change, and so will their goals. Ensure that the goals still reflect their desires. Whether the goal is modified or affirmed, map out the next steps to be completed.
You should follow these same steps with your own career. Develop a goal statement and share it with your boss. Incorporate your objectives into your annual performance review. Take personal responsibility for your professional growth.
Your employees are your most important asset. Take the time to nurture your staff and help them grow. Individualized professional improvement plans are a great way to assist that growth.
Input for this piece was provided by Lois Ritarossi, president of High Rock Strategies:
Lois Ritarossi is the President of High Rock Strategies, a consulting firm focused on sales and marketing strategies, and business growth for firms in the print, mail and communication sectors. Lois brings her clients a cross-functional skill set and strategic thinking with disciplines in business strategy, sales process, sales training, marketing, software implementation, inkjet transformation, and workflow optimization. Lois has enabled clients to successfully launch new products and services with integrated sales and marketing strategies, and enabled sales teams to effectively win new business. You can reach Lois at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark M. Fallon is president and CEO of The Berkshire Company, a consulting firm specializing in mail and document processing strategies. The company develops customized solutions integrating proven management concepts with emerging technologies to achieve total process management. He offers a vision of the document that integrates technology, data quality, process integrity, and electronic delivery. His successes are based upon using leadership to implement innovative solutions in the document process. You can contact Mark at email@example.com.