An employee development plan is a leadership strategy that provides a framework for employees. Think of it as a blueprint for employee growth and empowerment. This plan of action helps staff set professional goals and plot their next career move [1]. Not all employee development plans produce results, however. Here's how you can create the perfect plan that educates, inspires and motivates every member of your workforce.

1. identify strengths, not just weaknesses

An employee development plan lets you define objectives for staff members across various departments. When creating a plan for an employee, identify his or her strengths and weaknesses, and take into account past performance and future goals.

Most employee development plans identify problems and recognize areas for improvement, buy you should always balance the negative with the positive. This can motivate staff and improve productivity in the workplace. For example, 77 percent of employees said they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized.

2. consult with your employees

Like any good appraisal, your employee development plan should be a two-way process. Ask employees for their input so you have a deeper understanding of their career goals and motivations. You might want to ask staff what they hope to achieve over the next five years, for example.

Consulting with your employees -- and valuing their opinion -- results in more satisfied staff. Research shows that 30 percent more of the workforce are satisfied when there's an informal recognition program in place.

3. don't complicate things

Steer clear of long, complicated employee development plans that just confuse your staff. One leadership and management expert recommends you target one or two areas for development because too many goals can block progress. With fewer goals to achieve, employees are more likely to succeed and can take action before the next review period.

You might want to consider how you deliver your employee development plan, too. One sheet of paper is enough to get your message across. You can include short notes, bullet points or even charts to improve readability and engagement.

These three tips help you create an employee development plan that delivers results. Identifying an employee's strengths, consulting with staff and keeping things simple will benefit your business in the long run.