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How to Monitor and Measure an Employee Growth Plan's Progress

August 17, 2020
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You want to do everything you can to help your employees reach their full potential. But it’s not enough to just assign them tasks and hope they’ll grow into the career path that’s right for them. To really foster their growth, you need to help them develop a concrete plan.

Employee growth plans lay the groundwork for your team members’ growth within your organization. They create a process to help employees get from where they are now to where they want to be, whether that means growing into a management position, developing new skills, or making a transition to a new department.

However, creating an employee growth plan is only the first step of the process. If you want your employees to successfully navigate their plans and get where they desire to be in their careers, you need to monitor and measure that plan as it progresses.

Let’s take a look at how to monitor and measure an employee growth plan in order to optimize your employees’ career growth and development.

Why Monitoring Growth Plans Is Important   

Before we get into how to monitor and measure an employee growth plan, let’s look at why that oversight is so important to begin with.

“Measuring and monitoring an employee’s growth demonstrates not only the value in the learning, but the standard to which someone should be performing,” said Leanne King, CEO of SeeKing HR, a Texas-based HR consultancy that specializes in employment services, employee development, and HR program and process management.

By setting measurable goals within an employee’s growth plan and then monitoring their progress as they move through their plan, you and your employee can be on the same page as to where they’re going, how you expect them to get there, and how you’re going to be gauging their progress and readiness to move forward.

Playing an active role in measuring and monitoring employee growth plans also allows you to continually assess the effectiveness of the program and make adjustments as needed.

“If you aren’t monitoring for progress and measuring success, then you are wasting time and money,” said Amy Lafko, owner and principal of the Philadelphia-based organizational consulting firm Cairn Consulting Solutions. “You have to ensure the efforts are effective — and if they aren’t, determine how to adjust the plan.”

Monitoring and measuring your employees’ growth plans is necessary if you want them to successfully navigate their plans and grow in their careers. Here’s how to manage the monitoring and measuring in a way that empowers your employees and delivers the key insights you need to aid them in their career growth and development.

1. Ensure the plan aligns with the employees' career goals.

Different employees have different career goals. An employee growth plan is only going to be effective if it’s aligned with the kind of growth your employee actually wants to achieve in their career. Even if you think they have potential to grow in a certain area, if that’s not the career path they want to pursue, the plan isn’t going to drive lasting results no matter how much you measure or monitor it.

“Gauge the employee's interest in a growth plan,” advised Eric Mochnacz, a consultant at New Jersey-based HR consulting firm Red Clover. “There are individuals within an organization who don't want to move up. They are content in their current role, and see the growth and challenge opportunities in that role, so taking on a different role doesn't motivate them.”

There are also some employees who want to grow in their career — just not in your organization.

“It's also possible that someone doesn't see a long-term future in your organization, and that's okay,” said Mochnacz. “If they don't see themselves with your organization long-term, accept it. Still challenge them in their role, but don't feel obligated to invest the time in developing a long-term growth plan.”

Monitoring and measuring an employee growth plan takes time and effort, so before you expend the energy, make sure the plan you have in place for your employee is in line with their long-term career goals.

2. Determine what you’re going to monitor and measure.

You can’t effectively measure and monitor an employee growth plan if you don’t know what exactly you’re trying to measure or monitor, so you need to define those elements from the get-go.

“Hard skills and soft skills are equally important when monitoring and measuring employees’ growth plans,” said King, so it’s important to incorporate both.

Which skills you measure and monitor will depend on the role. “Every role has unique skills and the only way to know what skills need to be monitored is to be clear on the key accountabilities for the role,” Lafko said. “Determine what the job requires — not a description of the job, but key accountabilities for success.”

Let’s say you’re working on an employee growth plan to help your team member move from their current role at the coordinator level to a mid-level manager or director position. In terms of hard skills, you might want to monitor and measure their proficiency in the different software needed to grow into their desired position as well as their technical proficiency overall, which they’ll need to successfully navigate a higher-level position.

In terms of soft skills, “if one of your core values is ‘self-starting,’ you need to be able to identify how you measure that in a growth plan,” said Mochnacz, “even if it's a matter of being able to identify ways you've seen the employee start a project independently and pointing out examples where they still need to grow within that value.”

Early on, take the time to establish how you’re defining progress and what specifically you’ll be measuring and monitoring along the way.

3. Set metrics from the outset.

Once you define what you’re going to be measuring and monitoring, you’ll need to define how you’re going to be doing that measuring, and that means setting clear metrics.

“The leader and employee should set clear KPIs and performance metrics and also set a time limit for the growth plan,” Mochnacz said.

For example, say you’re working with an employee who wants to get promoted from marketing manager to marketing director. In order to determine when they’re ready for that promotion, you’re going to be measuring and monitoring their people management skills, ability to drive leads for the company, and technical proficiency in the software they’ll need to effectively run the marketing department.

In this case, your metrics might look something like this:

  • At the end of three months, the employee will have completed software training with the IT department.
  • Each month, the employee will host mentoring sessions with marketing employees and collect employee surveys from the attendees about their experience with the session. In order to be considered for promotion, the employee must rank at a seven or higher on all surveys for three consecutive months.
  • At the end of each month, the employee will submit a report outlining new leads; total marketing spend; a detailed description of the most current lead generation strategy; and a summary of wins, challenges, and any changes that are being implemented to optimize the strategy for the following month. To be considered for promotion, the employee must drive 150 new leads for three consecutive months.
  • The employee will meet with management on a biweekly basis to discuss progress on the growth plan. If the employee has not met the necessary KPIs and performance metrics for promotion by the end of one year, the growth plan will be adjusted as needed.

Setting clear metrics will give both you and your employee a baseline to measure their progress against, and ensure that everyone knows how progress is being defined and what metrics they need to hit in order to move forward with their plan.

Just make sure your employee is on board and understands what metrics you’ll be using to measure their progress. “Confirm that the employee is clear on the definition of progress,” Lafko said. “Clarity of expectations is often assumed, and we should never assume.”

4. Check in regularly to monitor progress.

Having metrics in place helps you measure your employees’ progress. But you can’t distill the entirety of an employee’s progress into numbers, and you can’t give them the support they need to succeed if those numbers are all you’re looking at. That’s why monitoring their progress with regular check-ins is also important.

“If you are working with an employee through a growth plan, there should be devoted time where they have your undivided attention,” Mochnacz said. “It's a chance to build the relationship and it creates an openness where you both can discuss progress towards the plan's goals — and identify areas of challenge or where the plan isn't working.”

A mixture of short, informal sit-downs and longer, more structured progress meetings are the most effective way to continually monitor your employee’s progress, give them the support they need, and adjust their plan if necessary.

“I recommend a check-in once or twice a week for 10 to 15 minutes. Shorter, but more frequent meetings [can] keep the employee moving forward and keeps the communication channel open,” King said. “In addition, scheduling structured feedback sessions every 30 or 60 days allows for the leader to monitor progress on the bigger deliverables.”

During each check-in, review any established KPIs or performance metrics and make sure your employees are on track. But also take time to celebrate wins, address any challenges they might be having, and ask them what support they need — from you or the rest of the team — to continue moving forward. In addition, periodically review the growth plan and evaluate whether it’s still a good fit. If it’s not, make changes or adjustments as needed.

Regular check-ins with your employees ensure they’re progressing in their growth plans and that their plans are still an accurate reflection of where they’re trying to go in their careers.

Employee growth plans lay the groundwork for your team members to grow and evolve in their careers. And by carefully measuring and monitoring their progress, you can empower them to hit their goals, reach their full potential, and build a thriving career — and organization — in the process.