Employee driven development -process

Post by
Kaisa Savola
Employee driven development -process

As I still run into cases and companies that follow the traditional/annual personal development review -process, I decided to blog about one of my favorite topics: The employee driven development -process.

For companies looking to start a transformation, this is your read.

Traditional Personal Development Process

Let me first shine some light on what I mean with the Traditional or Annual process. It usually has the following elements

  • employee meeting with supervisor once a year, max twice
  • discussion about the past year’s/half’s performance
  • wishes for development listed
  • supervisor writing done strategic, business and operational objectives for the employee
  • and next year, copying & pasting those same targets to the next years document.

The last bullet happens because the document is usually written by the supervisor, not the employee and into some sort of document. Since it’s just a document (Word/GoogleDocs/traditional HR -system/you name it), it drops into a black hole after the meeting is over. It doesn’t make any noise throughout the year and because of this,

  • strategy fails
  • development isn’t as steep as it could be
  • and the employee experience has room for improvement.

Employee Driven Development Process

Dropping the Annual process doesn’t mean there’s no development process. No. Rather than meeting once a year, companies, supervisors and employees are meeting several times a year and working towards more efficient ways of developing, coaching, taking the strategy forward and getting the job done. A step within what I call the Employee Driven Development process.

The Employee Driven process acknowledges that the workforce is diverse in backgrounds, experiences, passions, dreams and goals. Ability to contribute to the company strategy and vision, develop in a speed that works best and keeping those passions and dreams alive are parts that build the process. Adding a transparent flavor to it all creates a cornerstone of sustainable companies. The management sets the destination, the ultimate goals to be reached and the employees travel there autonomously, yet, reaching the same goal, on time.

So, how can you start the transformation?

A key element in the change from Traditional or Annual Personal Development to the Employee Driven Development process, is involving your employees.

1. Allow them to participate in structuring the new way of working.

2. Ask them, how would they define it.

  • Which elements are needed?
  • Which work in the current way, which need to be improved?
  • Are there elements that need to be mandatory?

3. Design and implement the process.

4. Find a tool to support the process.


How many of you have been asked the question “Where do you want to be in 3–5 years” in an interview? Why does dreaming become obsolete after being hired? If not obsolete, barely kept alive.

Having dreams, whether they are short or long-term, have a positive effect on one’s mental health, motivation and well-being. Employees should be able to dream big or be strongly passionate about something and have a concrete plan to assist in reaching that dream.


The meeting with the supervisor and employee is one of the most important encounters and it should be made worthwhile. Making it worthwhile means that topics such as recurrence, agenda and place should be brought to the table.

They say, “the more the merrier” and that can also be applied to 1-on-1 meetings. The more you have, the better you get to know your employees and the better chances you have to support, challenge and coach them.

Within the Employee Driven process, employees are allowed to have a say in the frequency, the agenda i.e. the items to be discussed and the place where it takes place. The meeting can take place as lunches or walks outside the company parameters. Going outside the parameters brings a non-formal vibe to the meeting and sets a great base for engaging and fruitful discussions.

Goal setting

The OKR -framework (Objectives & Key Results) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OKR) is a great way to create meaningful, measurable and effective development plans for all employees. When company and team level objectives have been defined, each employee can create their own goals, linked to the company and/or team objective and broken down into doable measures. Visualizing the plan using a tool with reactive functionality helps the employee keep focus on what matters and ensures better results and improved success rates in strategy implementation.


Based on the research we have done; everyone wants feedback but so very few receive it. If 20% of developing oneself comes from other people, feedback being one form or it, it should be nourished. Yet, it seems to be a very difficult sport.

How to give feedback? Should it be wrapped in the form of a hamburger, how to set the words so that it makes sense and the receiving one can actually learn from it.

Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor gives great advice: Care personally, challenge directly. She also suggests dropping the hamburger because it can be very confusing, and the message gets lost due to the artificial buns. When you care personally, you will be able to challenge directly.

With this in mind, I would like to share two additional tips:

  • give feedback on behavior not on personality or the person
  • give the feedback on time, when the reason for feedback happens, not 6 months later
  • give positive feedback in public
  • give constructive always in private

For those receiving the feedback, I would like to point out 3 things

  • Thank the person giving you the feedback
  • If it is a positive feedback — tell the person, how you feel: “Thank you, that made me feel great/proud/happy!”
  • If the feedback is constructive, thank again but do not start explaining anything. You can come back to it later, after you have allowed yourself to ponder and reflect on it.

So, in order to transfer to a more employee driven development process

1. Involve your employees.

2. Train your supervisors.

3. Create a process and communicate it well.

4. Implement tools to support the process and create meaningful development plans for all employees.

5. Collect feedback and use it to improve the process.

Talbit is an excellent tool for all employees when companies want to transfer from an Annual to Employee Driven Development process. Company and team objectives are made transparent. Employees are responsible for creating their own development plans, linking their targets to the company and team level objectives. After completing each task, a feedback link can be created and sent to all parties involved in the task; customers, suppliers, Project Managers, and teammates and all replies are collected under the given task. Company and team level progress can be followed via a visual Dashboard view.