Developmental Assignment Template


Developing leaders by placing them on specific assignments is a great way to broaden their perspective while ensuring their highest development needs are being addressed in a structured way. The template (download link below) ensures transparency regarding developmental focus and management expectations of the outcomes of an assignment.

An assignment may require a change in location, but not always. An assignment could also be a temporary changed reporting relationship or being part of a different group or business unit. A different group of colleagues and managers to work with provides an assignee with the opportunity to broaden his or her internal network and learn to build relationships fast. International assignments can add additional learning objectives such as developing more cultural awareness and skills involving collaboration and communicating across cultures.

The example shown, helps to illustrate how one would go about using the developmental assignment template I am sharing above (see download link).

What should he/she learn?

The areas to develop (called Leadership Aspects in the example) would depend on the competencies that have been selected for leadership development and the latest ratings from the performance management process can be used to provide you with the ratings for each leader. This helps you to focus on the development needs with the highest priorities at that time. A conversation with the leader’s direct manager could be very useful in selecting the highest priorities. If the employee had been included in a recent talent review, there may be additional information available to complete the template and select the focus areas for his or her leadership development.

How will he/she learn?

Selecting the development activities, it is important to first understand specifically which aspect of that development priority the employee needs to learn more about.

  • Theoretical (mainly improving awareness)? Then an online self-paced course could be the answer. Or even sending the employee to attend an external class or read a book (or selection of books).
  • Learning new behaviors? Coaching and feedback based on actual examples encountered could be a good approach. You could also do a pre-test and post-test with some experiential workshop or learning intervention taking place between the tests. Workshops which include options to practice new behaviors can be great solutions.

A combination of learning interventions is the best way to address development needs. Look at each high priority learning need and look for ways to combine class-room training, self-paced learning, short On The Job (OTJ) assignments or tasks and perhaps coaching too. Each of the interventions would then strengthen learning and reinforce principles introduced.

Be sure to document who will mentor or coach the employee. He or she needs to understand the support you are making available to him/her on the journey of learning new skills.

What is the definition of Done?

Spend some time considering how you will close out the assignment with the specific learning needs. Will you want a written report detailing the learning that took place over the assignment period? Or will you want a report and also a presentation? Or perhaps just assign a presentation to be developed whereby the assignee is asked to share his or her key learning achievements with a panel of senior-level stakeholders? Assign the completion activity early so the assignee can prepare for it from the moment he or she starts the new assignment.

Include stakeholders early

Share rating templates with the intended evaluation panel and the assignee before the final event or evaluation of a written report. The transparency helps all concerned to anticipate the level of detail required and where the focus areas will be. This helps the employee prepare from early-on in the assignment to provide the required final product or presentation.

Documenting the learning objectives of an assignment helps to orient and align all stakeholders on how to positively impact the development of that leader – the leader himself/herself, his/her direct manager or supervisor, his/her coach and HR or L&D staff supporting the assignment.

Training Needs Analysis


Training departments are usually expected to provide an annual plan showing training classes and learning interventions which will be offered over the course of the year. Managers want to see when they can plan to send employees to attend specific training courses and they also would like to see that the training plan addresses key areas where performance improvement may be needed for their departments or business units. Lastly, there is also usually the need to create a budget for the planned training. All of these focus areas are covered in the templates that can be downloaded below.

What kind of training should you provide?

Consider the following sources of information which could help:

  • Company strategies for growth and developing into new markets or expanding in existing markets – what skills would be needed?
  • Based on current performance – which skills need to be introduced and which skills should be improved upon?
  • Looking at employee career goals, which skills do you need to focus on in order to help move employees to being promotion-ready?
  • Which skills do managers believe would help their teams succeed better given performance targets and customer demands?

Summary of the kinds of Training Needs to Identify

Tools and Templates

Here are three tools that can help you with conducting a training needs analysis. The first tool highlights individual training needs per employee and is based on employee self assessments. The second tool is a training needs view from a manager’s perspective focusing on the top 3 highest training needs for each employee in his/her group/team/department. The last tool helps you budget for the planned training.

  • Self-rated individual training needs. The quality of the results you obtain from this tool depends on whether you have a good career development tool/framework in place, motivated employees who maintain and work on their own development plans on an on-going basis and whether your managers/supervisors provide quality performance feedback to employees on a regular basis.
  • Manager assessment of department/team. Using knowledge of employee performance in his/her department, the manager selects the top 3 courses that each employee would need to improve own performance and/or to grow further in his/her career. Be sure to share course details with the managers too – what is the duration of the course and what aspects of the topic is covered?
  • Training needs and budgeting. This spreadsheet helps you budget for the planned courses. Check actual spending against this estimate to track the accuracy of your original budget and accurate allocation of items charged to your training budget.

Tips for training needs analysis:

  • Create a training needs analysis process that you follow consistently every year. This helps managers get into a rhythm of providing you with the required information on time for you to submit budget requests for the following year/quarter.
  • Be clear with managers which part of the training costs would be booked to their own budgets. For example – where do employees charge their time when they are in a training class? To your budget or to their manager’s budget?
  • Ask yourself how much training does it make sense to provide internally vs using an external vendor. Make wise trade-offs in terms of training costs, best value for money, expertise needed to provide the training etc.
  • Determining the training plan for the following year should also include a good review of the training evaluations and feedback obtained from course participants during the lasts year. Are your current training classes good enough or do they need to be improved or outsourced?