How to Create SMART Career Development Plans for Your Employees?

by / ⠀Career Advice / April 9, 2021

It is said that a leader is who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. Often, as an employer, you may require to have a vision to set your employees on the right path. You are required to set a goal for them and motivate them to achieve it so that you both can be equally beneficial. This is why it is necessary to introduce SMART career development plans for your employees.

Create SMART Career Development Plans

If you invest in the growth of your employees, you can make sure that the same employees will make your business remain competitive in the market. You can retain more employees in the process.

Now, what is a SMART career development plan?

The Meaning: Career Development Plan

A SMART career development plan is an objective that you can set a goal for and clearly measure the progress. Smart stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based.

Wondering how each word can help you to set goals for each of your employees?

Example and Explanation of Career Development Plan

Career Development Plan

Let us give you an example; one of your employees is recruited as a content writer. Her goal is to become a digital marketing manager in future. How would you help her achieve her goal and make a career development plan? 


She needs to be as specific as saying, “I want to become a marketing manager for a start-up company” instead of saying, “I want to be a digital marketing specialist.” The more narrow the goal, the easier it will be to understand the steps that need to be followed.


How can you measure the prospect in the goal that the employee has chosen? You have to evaluate the progress that she is making towards her goal. It is important to set milestones along the way. Make sure to reward her when she achieves a small but meaningful success.

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Dreaming big is good, but you should take one step at a time. This is why it is important for your employee to set an achievable goal. Make sure that she has the credibility, experience and skill to earn the position she is aiming for. It is important to talk to her regarding small and primary steps before setting her on a path for the bigger aim.


Ask your employee to rethink why the goal is important to her and if it is relevant to her career goal or not. If a goal doesn’t contribute towards her long-term goal, it is irrelevant. Consider how it aligns with her values and how it sets her path clear for her ultimate aim.


It is important to set a time-frame for a goal. It can help your employee to be motivated and gear up to achieve the goal within the time. Suppose your employee wants to become a digital marketing specialist from a content writer within 6 months, and if she can’t achieve it in the time-frame, she can ask herself why and what needs to be done further to achieve it. 

The Initial Process Of  Career DevelopmentProcess Of  Career Development

So, how will you start the process of SMART career development for your employees ?

You should start by identifying employees who perform well consistently and have shown interest to move to another stage of their career. 

Once you have identified the employees, you can start by having one-to-one meetings with each of them to understand their career planning and goals.

Once you know their plans, you can share your ideas for their growth. You can schedule meetings for more in-depth discussions.

Make your employees question themselves before they can start by asking questions like:

  • What is my vision about growth?
  • Where do I see myself in the next 5 years?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do I define my ideal job?
  • Am I a team player or do I see myself as a strong individual contributor?
  • How realistic is my goal?
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After you know their goals, it’s important to set goals for them. Involve them in small teamwork. Keep assignments for them so that they can evaluate how close they are towards their goal. Set objectives that are realistic but challenging.

Once you have set goals for your employees, create some milestones. Creating milestones is like setting mini goals that will help them reach their larger goals. It can give your employees measurable steps towards reaching their aim. It is important to make those milestones time-bound as well. And it can keep them to be on track and become responsible.

Now, you need to think how making a SMART career plan for your employees will help you get benefited with the same. And what are the steps that you can take to achieve it?

Step 1: What are your business goals?

Business Goal

Why will you help your employees grow without getting benefitted from it? Before you set goals for your employees, try to align their needs with the company’s goals. Consider whether your needs and your employee’s goals are the same or not.

As an example, suppose you need someone to fill up the position of a digital marketing team leader and your employee has a goal to become a digital marketing manager, helping him or her to grow will make you take a step forward towards your business goals too.

Step 2: Talking to your employees

Talk to your employees regarding their career goals. Assuming their skills and goals may lead the wrong person to the right position. Understand their challenges to achieve their dreams and help them overcome those.

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Step 3: Introduce training and development programs

Once you are familiar with your employees’ challenges towards their goals, start training programs to fast-track the process of their learning. Crash courses, small projects, online training and working directly under an expert will help them to learn more about their goals.

Step 4: Understand readiness

It is important to understand who among your employees is ready to move forward with your help. Being potential and being ready are two different things. One of your employees has the potential to become the new digital marketing manager but he is not ready to travel or communicate with prospective clients to help grow your small business.

In such cases you need to give preference to employees who may have less potential but are ready to take up the challenge immediately. Managing a position that requires leadership skills is challenging at times because one has to perform as a team player and mentor instead of an individual contributor. It is similar to performing as a coach instead of a player.

Step 5: Creating a concrete plan

It is difficult to achieve a goal if it is unrealistic, unnecessarily broad or doesn’t have a time boundary. Set a time-limit before them and give ideas to change their goals if the plan seems vague and obscure. It will help them see clearly if they were missing out on anything.

So, now you know how helping your employees create a SMART career development plan can equally benefit your business too. This plan will help you and your employees achieve the departmental and individual goals simultaneously. Growing together is more effective than striving alone.

About The Author

Akash Tripathi

Akash Tripathi is a Content Marketing strategist at Top Mobile Tech. It is a blog where I cover all the tips & tricks related to Mobile and more related to tech. Stay connected to the rest of the world with Top Mobile Tech.