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3 Common Mistakes You Can Avoid for an AMAZING Development Plan

Updated: Nov 8, 2021

At the start of the year, team members have business performance meetings with their leaders to execute the work required to achieve performance targets. These meetings are normally done individually and consolidated as a team.

It's productive. It keeps the eyes on the prize. It keeps the team synchronized. It's linked to performance but it is not a development plan.

Development Plan Meetings serve a different purpose.

Development Plans focus on improving an individual's skillsets in order to enhance performance.

An amazing development plan encompasses the longer-term developmental conversations that create higher employee engagement whilst it improves the overall performance of your team. Engagement happens when employees recognize that the environment celebrates both growth of the business and the individual.

Leaders, watch the faces of your team members light up when you prioritize their development.

We all love to learn and grow. Most individuals are appreciative of having a leader who cares for them as a person and supports their professional development.

3 Common Mistakes You Can Avoid for an Amazing Development Plan Conversation

1) Not Taking the Time to Prepare

We are all busy. In an attempt to "save time", some managers try to "wing it". After all development plans can be subjective and their relation to performance is less direct. Often, I see how the light in employees quickly dissipate AFTER the session because the conversation with their leader missed the mark.

For example, having these meetings on an ad hoc basis or trying to fit in these conversations as they rush to the next meeting. Even though the intention is to have the conversation efficiently, the repercussion is a disappointment. Most team members read these actions, not as efficiency but as disinterest.

Some tips:

  1. Schedule and allocate the right amount of time and communicate the importance of this conversation.

  2. Have Structure. This helps both parties know what to prepare for the session more effectively. Communicating areas to think about/ prepare for emphasizes the manager's commitment to the team member's development.

  3. Use the session to inspire. Many team members report their frustration that their manager has no plans for their future. Paint the future and possibilities linked to the development so that your team members are inspired!

2) Keeping it Too General.

An example: "For development, we will work on communication," was a conclusion written in a development plan. That may be where the conversation starts but it's still too general as a conclusion.

Over generalized, unclear development plans lead to muddy development outcomes.


A development plan that is too general will be unconsciously closed with assumptions. There is a high chance that even the meaning of the developmental word used is taken differently by different people. Disappointment and poor feedback await the team when the expected behavior is not demonstrated.


The ability to articulate and document current behavior and what are the key shifts with the new development is crucial to move it from general to specific. The member must be clear:

  • What is does the current performance look like?

  • What does the future performance look like?

  • How will this shift benefit the individual and team performance?

  • Where can this new behavior be demonstrated at work?

3) Not Identifying Everyday Opportunities

Developing any capability consistently happens with practice and repetition. A study showed that to be masterful in any chosen competency, one needs a minimum of 10,000 hours.

Development plans do not have to be lofty or expensive. Amazing development plans creatively find everyday opportunities to practice, practice, practice. It is through SMALL practices we learn the BIG skills.

We must practice enough for our mistakes to emerge, and to learn from them.

The growth mindset reminds us that learning from our mistakes is the key to growth.

Afraid that your mistakes will be costly?

Strategically lower risks with smaller stakes. What is scarier is when we don't try until the stakes are high.

Encourage the team member to find opportunities to practice development areas every day.


These mistakes are common and can be easily avoided. Leaders who encourage the development of others are highly appreciated by their team members and valued in the organization.

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IN SUPPORT OF LEADERS Reach out to me if you would like to brainstorm pro-active ways to support your leaders in these challenging times. Happy to help! ******************

I am #CoachWendyWong, passionate about helping talents optimize potential by building leadership skills creatively through coaching and training in Asia. Here's more about what I do:

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