How to create staff training and professional development plans

by James Price, BBM | Sep 21, 2014

This week James and guest contributor Rosy Sullivan explain how to identify the staff training and development needs within your business, and then how to go about creating individual training and development plans.

This blog includes links to the JPAbusiness Training Plan and Professional Development Plan templates, and also includes example templates which James has filled out to show how the plans can be used in your business.

Comments by James Price and Rosy Sullivan

As a business owner or manager, how do I go about identifying the training and professional development needs within the business?


The training and development needs of staff are best identified through a formal performance management and evaluation system. (See the JPAbusiness eBook – Managing Staff for High Performance)

This type of performance management system provides benefits for both the employee and the employer.

General benefits include:

  • Financial gains – overspending is less likely when outcomes are clearly linked to business objectives, as projects deemed not to meet the organisation’s goals are not undertaken.
  • Improved productivity – incentive plans clearly linked to performance encourage over-achievement, not ‘business as usual’ outcomes.
  • Open communication – individual performance is assessed and discussed and each employee’s goals outlined in line with the organisation’s needs.
  • Clear accountabilities – results are transparent and individuals are aware of the results they need for success.
  • Happy employees – employees understand how their role and results contribute to organisation’s overall goals.
  • Goal alignment – professional development programs are closely aligned with the goals of an organisation.

A performance management and review system will identify knowledge and skill gaps for individual employees, showing where training and development is required.

This review process will also identify where already skilled employees need information to support their growth to gain more advanced skills and knowledge.

By using performance review as a training and development tool, an employer can assist their employees to develop a career path. This allows employees to manage and plan their own training and development.

By identifying the technical skills and business competencies required for each position, an employer is able to develop an accurate link between the requirements for each position and the necessary characteristics of the people to fill each of those positions.

Nationally ‘transportable’ skills

In Australia, we have a system of Vocational Education and Training (VET) that supports this link between identification of skills required for specific functions in an industry, with the training requirements for those functions clearly nominated on a national level.

Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) have the authority to conduct training for specific industries.

Employers can work with RTOs to develop tailored training programs to best meet the needs of their employees. This training, if it is providing a qualification-based outcome, must be based on the skills and knowledge identified within the relevant training package.

This means the person trained for a specific function in one organisation will be able to transfer to another organisation, as their training will have a national transportability.

Why does each staff member need a Training and Professional Development Plan?


My view is that having a training or professional development plan is standard process and it’s all part of your performance management system.

Whether the staff member is casual, part-time or full-time, as long as they’re critically involved in your business, the question should be asked:

          ‘Are they proficient in all aspects of their roles and, if not, should training be provided to bring them up to speed?’

It may be that their training plan is simply ‘you don’t need to do anything because you’re proficient in all your areas of responsibility’. But the question is almost as important as the plan.

From a professional development point of view, you need to ask:

          ‘Are you comfortable in this role and/or do you see yourself progressing anywhere else within the business?’

The business may also have a view:

          ‘We really need someone in this role over here – what would you think about developing yourself into that role?’

How do I create a Training and Professional Development Plan?


First, download the free JPAbusiness Staff Training Plan and Professional Development Plan templates.

JPAbusiness Staff Training Plan Template









JPAbusiness Professional Development Plan Template







For Training Plans I recommend you sit down with staff members once every 12 months, as part of their annual performance review process, and develop the plan jointly with the individual.

Professional Development Plans tend to be more for more senior roles, such as supervisor and up, although not exclusively.

I like to ensure that after the individual and their manager have signed off on a Professional Development Plan, the individual’s manager ‘once removed’ also reviews and signs off on the plan.

This is because professional development and career tracks are about the organisation as a whole, rather than just one particular part of the business, so it’s important to have a manager once removed with a broader understanding of the business’s objectives involved in this process.

Ultimately, these plans might be about succession planning for the organisation, so it’s important to ensure the proper weight is given to the development opportunity.

We’ve filled out a couple of example plans and included them on the following pages, to give you an idea of how our Training and Professional Development plan templates can be used in your business.

Next week James and Rosy will discuss some of the staff training and professional development options available for small to medium-sized businesses. 

You can download our free eBook, Training and Professional Development Advice for Small to Mid-Sized Businesses by clicking here.

Please remember the information contained in this blog is general in nature and should not be taken as personal, professional advice. Readers should make their own inquiries and obtain independent advice before making any decisions or taking any action.

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