How to Create an Employee Success Plan

Learn the benefits of creating an employee success plan and the steps you must take to make it effective.


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How to Create an Employee Success Plan

Employees are your most valuable asset. To create an engaged and productive workforce, investing in your team is one of the most important things you’ll do all year, especially as it can go a long way toward motivating your employees to meet individual and organizational goals.

Why employee success plans are important

When developing employee success plans, you’re trying to help your employees and your organization grow at the same time. After all, the more successful your workers are, the more successful your company will be.

An effective employee success plan requires you to consider your organizational goals, uncover any skill gaps, and provide team members with the training and resources to shore up those shortfalls.

When you can align training and development with an employee’s performance and career goals, it can lead to rapid growth. Providing opportunities for employees to gain the knowledge or experience they need to advance their career is a powerful motivator.

Besides helping develop your workforce, training and experience also help with employee retention. In fact, 94% of employees say they are likely to stay at their company longer if it invests in learning and development programs.

When employees know you’re vested in their success, they’re more likely to be productive and highly engaged.

Many large companies now distinguish between standard Human Relations functions and what they call People Operations. While HR is focused on employee recruiting, compliance, and administration, people ops is highly focused on employee success to empower workers. Whether you have such a role in your organization or not, you need a focus on employee development to grow and retain a vibrant workforce.

An effective employee success plan requires you to consider your organizational goals, uncover any skill gaps, and provide team members with the training and resources to shore up those shortfalls.

How to create an employee success plan

An employee success plan should be a collaborative venture between employees and employers to create a list of actionable steps. The plan provides the framework for how employee performance will be judged and what it takes to move to the next level within an organization or otherwise advance in their career.

Goal setting

Before you can measure success, you must first define it. So, the first step in creating an employee success plan is to set goals.

Effective goals provide a road map so employees know what it takes to succeed, how they will be measured, and how their job contributes to the success of the company. Make sure goals are realistic but challenging. Goals that seem unreachable can be demotivating. The best goals should stretch employees but be achievable.

Goals should be developed collaboratively. When you come to an agreement, put them in writing. A study at Dominican University in California uncovered some interesting facts about goal setting: When goals are articulated and written down, you are 42% more likely to achieve them.

Here are a few employee performance goal examples.

  • Increase year-over-year sales-qualified leads by 5% monthly.
  • Close 5 new deals generating $10,000 in monthly recurring revenue in the next quarter.
  • Contact all new customers within 30 days.
  • Create a strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plan within 45 days.
  • Take part in one training webinar each quarter.

The more specific, measurable, and actionable your goals are, the more likely they will be successful.


Expectations also play an important role in employee success, yet often expectations aren’t articulated in the workplace. And if they happen to be unwritten rules, they’re open for interpretation. So either put them in writing or ensure your team knows them.

For example:

  • Do you have a specific dress code you expect employees to follow?
  • Are there strict work hours?
  • What’s your policy on remote work or working from home?
  • Do you expect jobs to be done a certain way, or are you focused more on the results?
  • How do you handle problems or conflicts?

While some of these things may be spelled out in an employee handbook, others may not.

Let employees know what you expect and whether there is flexibility. Keep in mind though that employees have expectations from their managers, too.

Communicating these expectations is simple. Let employees know what you expect and whether there is flexibility. Keep in mind though that employees have expectations from their managers, too. Part of employee success is based on whether companies keep up their end of the bargain as well.

Employees expect organizations to:

  • Provide a safe healthy workplace
  • Pay them fairly and accurately
  • Provide proper training, support, and leadership
  • Provide regular feedback on work
  • Treat them fairly
  • Provide them with the resources they need to succeed.

Employers failing to meet employee expectations should expect lower engagement and higher turnover.

Duties, responsibilities, and accountability

Besides goals and expectations, an employee success plan also needs to define duties, responsibility, and accountability.

Employees need to know the specific job requirements and duties and what they are accountable for, as well as who has the ultimate responsibility throughout a company’s chain of command. For example, are they the final decision-maker or does their work need to be approved by someone else? Where are they allowed to make decisions and where do they need to ask for permission?

At the same time, employees should also know what happens if they fail to meet the success goals you’ve discussed.

Measurement and monitoring

It’s been said many times, but it’s as true now as the first time: You can’t manage what you can’t measure. To gauge success, you need regular reviews to evaluate performance against the employee success plan.

Not only do regular reviews help assess improvement, but they reinforce the importance of meeting these goals for employees.

The opposite can happen, too. If you set goals and then never talk about them again or fail to measure outcomes, it lets employees know these goals aren’t important to you. As such, they likely won’t be important to them either.

Action plan

Once you have defined all of the above, create an action plan that details how you are going to meet these goals. The action plan should include:

  • Goals and priorities
  • Tasks needed to accomplish goals
  • Deadlines and milestones
  • Resources and opportunities
  • Measurement and review mechanisms

Follow through

Business leaders and managers need to remember that they play an active role in employee success. For employees to grow, they need the resources, training, and opportunities to learn. Just as you will hold employees accountable for the employee success plan, your team members will hold you accountable, too.

Following through on your commitments is often the difference between success and failure. If you commit to it, do it.


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