Definition: a Skill Development Plan (SDP) is a custom, date-driven inventory and schedule of skills and knowledge that must be learned in a given role—and the resources available and test questions needed to confirm that the right knowledge has been transferred.


How It Works

At the Steve Trautman Co. we use a Skill Development Plan for transferring trapped knowledge and mitigating talent risks in a critical job role. We start by:

  • Interviewing identified experts or “peer mentors” and their managers
  • Listing all the skills relevant to that role


skills development planning

How Do You Define A Skill?

A skill is defined as something someone can say “go do” and can be learned by a qualified apprentice in about 1 – 2 hours. We have found—after almost two decades of using this technique with job roles ranging from bank tellers to video game designers to army base commanders—that virtually all positions have 60 – 120 job skills.


How Should You Prioritize?

We then prioritize which skills your “apprentice” employees need to learn right now and we sequence the skill list by order of importance. To create an assessment for each skill, we help your mentors choose five test questions from an established knowledge transfer question set that we’ve developed over the years. These test questions are designed to check for the wisdom and tacit knowledge behind any task and can reveal to the mentor if the apprentice has gained sufficient proficiency before using the skill.


How Should You Test It?

We also include an inventory of existing resources available to support an apprentice’s learning (i.e. documentation, training, samples, templates, and who can mentor this skill), and we set a date by which the apprentice should be able to answer a skill’s test questions correctly—showing whether or not he or she is prepared to take on the work at hand.


Uses & Benefits of Skills Development Planning

Our clients have found that Skill Development Plans help them:

  • Create a measurable path to reduce loss of knowledge and experience—ensuring sufficient bench strength in all critical functions
  • Reduce ramp-up time for new or transferring workers
  • Assess risks relative to a specific skill—defining which capabilities, if lacking, could cause the most quality, scheduling, or productivity problems
  • Call out the “standard bearers” for critical knowledge domains—so that more employees can work consistent with the best approach
  • Decide which processes are going to become the new standard within merged organizations—to reduce change management challenges and timelines
  • Spread the work of “mentoring” employees in a logical, sustainable way—to keep key experts from burning out
  • Reduce worker complacency and inertia—by clarifying expectations for their skill development
  • Establish master skill development plans—so they may be customized and reused for future employees
  • Measure and track results—to neutralize pockets of persistent risk


Learn More

You can learn more about our full knowledge transfer process here >>