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Five top tips for planning your team’s development


Development enables your team members to grow in their role, to feel stretched and supported, and to stay motivated and engaged.

One of the main benefits people value in their role is the opportunity to increase and refine their skills. Indeed, one of the main reasons people cite when leaving an organisation is the need for more development[1]

Therefore, developing people should be high on our priorities. Whether you are supporting a new team member, or working with a long-standing and high performing colleague, the following five top tips can help you plan their development.


1. Identify development areas

Consider what the team member needs to be great at to deliver their role, to support the team, to best achieve the team goals and to support your organisation. What will they need to excel at, in order to really progress in their career? Think about the next few years not just the next few months. These might be:

  •  Functional skills: critical to completing the technical areas of their roles, for example market research, programming, project management, budgeting, strategic planning etc.
  • Soft skills: helping people to get the best from themselves and others, for example problem solving, prioritisation, explaining complex ideas in a straightforward way, empathy, relationship building, negotiation skills etc.
  • Knowledge: this could be staying up to date with legislation, theories, best practice, sector or topic information and developments
  • Abilities: these are abilities people generally have but they need to develop their capacity to demonstrate them in important situations for example the ability to think creatively under pressure, the ability to say no when needed, the ability to be patient, the ability to take a flexible approach when things are changing etc.

2. Talk to your team members

Get to know your colleagues. What areas of their role do they most enjoy or least enjoy? Why did they join your organisation and what did they do before? What are they finding easy or most challenging? What skills are they using, what skills do they want to refine or acquire? What are their development goals or career aspirations? Through regular one-to- one conversations you can start to build a picture of how they assess themselves and what they are looking for in their development. This will ensure any development is owned and driven by them.

3. Diagnose their level of stretch

Diagnose how difficult their current work is and how their skills and expertise are currently being stretched, before adding in any new areas of development. If a team member is leading a project with very difficult or demanding stakeholders, find approaches to support them with the skills they need for that, rather than suggesting they learn something new and unrelated. Conversely, if a team member is finding all their work straightforward and easy, then consider what might stretch them next and keep them growing in their role?

bright flower growing

4. Look for on-the-job opportunities

When considering development, a lot of people think mainly about training. Whilst training, is great (we love it of course), and provides tools, approaches and models to frame our thinking, people learn by doing, and need to do so by applying their training. Look for opportunities where people can practice the skills they are developing. For example, if a team member needs to get better at facilitation, ask them to lead a group problem-solving part of your team meeting. If someone needs to become more assertive, ask them to have a conversation with a supplier or partner that you know will be challenging. Talk to them before to help them plan, and afterwards to help them reflect and learn.

5. Take a strengths-based approach

Don’t just focus on development areas that need to be improved or skills that need to be acquired. Consider what your colleagues are already great at, and how they deepen their expertise. Encourage them to be the expert in this area, to lead on it for the team, and to upskill others. Make sure they are recognised as the expert. Regularly tell them how their expertise is really helping the work, the team and the organisation succeed.


Developing your team is a crucial part of your role as a manager. When development is well-planned and aligns what people want, with what the organisation needs, you can ensure your team thrives and grows. To find out more about how our consultants can help you with development and blended approaches to learning click here . Or contact us for a conversation about your team’s development.


[1] Sources:

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Charlotte Scott

About Charlie Scott

Charlie specialises in leadership development, team facilitation and strategy development. Charlie worked for over 20 years in the not-for-profit sector. Before joining =mc ten years ago, she created and...