Why do development goals matter when it comes to career and performance and what are some development goals examples you can use for inspiration? We’ll break it all down for you in this blog.
Back in 1994, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras wrote a book called “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” in which they introduce the concept of a BHAG – a big, hairy, audacious goal. You might recognize some famous BHAGs, like SpaceX’s goal to “enable human exploration and settlement of Mars” or Google’s goal to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.” Because these goals are by definition big and hairy, it’s helpful to break them down into smaller, more manageable development goals at both an individual and organizational level.
The Role of HR in Setting Development Goals
Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of people managers to help their employees set and reach achievable development goals that not only foster personal growth, but also help the organization meet business targets. But often managers either aren’t trained on how to do it correctly, or they might need a refresher. That’s where HR business partners can step in and help.
Gone are the days where HR focused solely on administrative functions like compensation and benefits. As we’ve noted on the blog, HR is often seen as the guardian and curator of company culture. And because company culture is inherently tied to employee engagement, it’s important that HR prioritizes employee learning and development.
LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report found that learning opportunities are the number one way organizations are working to improve employee retention. Setting clear and achievable development goals is also an important step in fostering a growth mindset and building a modern performance management process.
Here are some tips that HR can use to help managers guide employees in setting development goals, adapted from SHRM:
- Make sure your company’s goals for the next six months to a year are clearly communicated and documented.
- Advise people managers to have 1:1 conversations with team members about company goals where they can ask questions and discuss how their role, expertise, and interests can help meet these goals.
- Give guidance for when people managers should check in on progress and a specific timeline for when you expect development goals to be achieved.
9 Development Goals Examples for Your Team
Not sure where to start? Here we’ve compiled a list of some common development goals examples that can be applied across your organization.
Improve Leadership Skills
As some companies continue to slow down hiring, you might be looking to develop internal talent and move high-potential employees into leadership positions. To get them ready, consider having them set development goals around leadership skills.
According to Indeed, these are the top ten leadership skills:
- Positive Attitude
- Ability to Teach and Mentor
Enhance Technical Skills
What are the most in-demand technical skills in your industry? Setting development goals around technical skills can help your organization stay ahead of the curve.
If you need some inspiration, Coursera’s Job Skills of 2024 report includes several trending technical skills, including:
- Generative AI
- Cybersecurity and Information Security
- Web Development and Computing
Boost Project Management Capabilities
No team or organization can realistically achieve a BHAG without skillful project management. Consider setting a development goal around achieving a Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification.
Increase Sales or Productivity Targets
For your sales team, you might consider a development goal around sales skills. According to Zendesk, there are three categories of skills for sales people:
- Process-Driven Skills, like product knowledge, time management, and prospecting
- Prospect-focused Skills, like empathy, conflict management, and social selling
- Soft Skills, like effective communication, storytelling, and public speaking
Strengthen Customer Service Skills
Eighty-nine percent of customers will make an additional purchase if they have a good customer service experience. Top customer service skills to set development goals around include attentiveness, communication, writing, persuasion, and positivity.
Enhance Team Collaboration
With so many teams working in hybrid and remote settings, team collaboration becomes that much more challenging. Development goals around team collaboration might involve setting up an employee recognition program or setting a regular cadence for departmental or cross-departmental meetings. Check out this blog for more information on development for hybrid teams.
Develop Conflict Resolution Abilities
Anytime humans work together, conflict and disagreement are bound to surface. SHRM offers conflict resolution training and you can also find helpful resources from the National Conflict Resolution Center.
Improve Time Management
With all the pings, notifications, and tech we interact with each day, time management becomes even more critical. According to Indeed, the top skills around time management are organization, delegation, stress management, and note-taking
Build Networking Skills
You know the saying – “It’s all about who you know.” Whether you’re trying to get something done across teams or make a connection with a prospect, anyone can benefit from setting a development goal around networking and relationship-building.
Measuring and Tracking Development Goals in the Workplace
Once you’ve set development goals using the examples above as inspiration, how do you know if employees are making progress on those goals? If you don’t already have one, you might consider establishing a formal talent development program. This can serve two functions in your organization:
- Invest in employees to keep their skills, abilities, and knowledge up to date
- Build the next generation of business leaders
Talent development programs identify high-potential employees and provide opportunities to learn new skills based on their development goals.
When you’re setting up a learning or talent program, here are some best practices to keep in mind:
Make Learning a Team Sport
Use a tool like Enboarder to connect your learners with leaders, peers, buddies, mentors who can help guide them in their growth.
Teach the Way People Learn
If you’re putting together a learning program to help employees meet their development goals, make sure you schedule in timely prompts and encouraging nudges (Bayer was able to increase its learning program graduation rate by 27% by doing this).
Track Your Progress
It’s not enough to set it and forget it. When you build learning workflows through Enboarder, you can track engagement, action, and feedback all in one place through detailed reports and customizable dashboards.
Fostering a Culture of Continuous Development
Workplace learning and development is not just critical for employee engagement and retention – it’s also a need-to-have when it comes to navigating talent disruptions and the skills shortage. LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report notes that skill sets for jobs have changed by 25% since 2015. That number is expected to double by 2027.
By helping employees set realistic development goals and then building and offering employee training systems that help them achieve those goals, you set your organization up for success by fostering a culture of continuous development.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out Enboarder’s recent webinar: “Future-Proof Your Workforce: A Roadmap to Success With Assessments, Analytics, and Next-Level Onboarding.”