Development Planning at Discover Financial Services

The companyメs development strategy is driven directly from Discoverメs company-wide People Goal to increase employee development and engagement while retaining top performers.

Edited by Margery Weinstein

Discover Financial Services describes its strategy for development as “comprehensive and across all levels of the organization.” It is driven directly from Discover’s company-wide People Goal:

Increase employee development and engagement while retaining top performers.

The same competency model applies at all levels—while the skills and complexity of those skills may differ, the model is the same for the entire organization. Learning and development opportunities focus on experiential learning, learning from others (such as mentors and peers), as well as workshops; e-learning; and learning via the company’s social media site, DLife.

Discover’s targeted programs focus on key high-potential groups such as its TAP (Talent Acceleration Program) for senior managers and directors and DLP (Discover Leadership) Campus programs. These programs accelerate the development of those with potential to move quickly to the next level. While these programs offer accelerated workshops, networking, and visibility, as well as additional application and action learning components, they still focus on the same competencies and behaviors.

360-Degree Assessments

Discover believes development planning is core to its business, and, therefore, it is part of Discover’s company-wide People Goal that each employee should be able to describe the one to two development priorities they are working on. The process starts at the top with each member of the executive committee (including the CEO and president) completing a 360-degree assessment process purely for development purposes (it is not a 360 connected to performance appraisals). In 2012, the company began the process that all officers would go through the 360 based on a common (Lominger) competency model tied to Discover Leadership Behaviors and create a development plan based on the feedback. The participants in the TAP programs also participate in the 360-degree assessment. Development plans then are shared with the individual’s direct manager.

The process is rolled out for the rest of the organization using the same model, but the employees self-assess (instead of doing the 360) and then build a development plan in the same manner as the officers. The development plan is required for every employee and is entered into the Performance Management and Development Planning tool, where it is updated a minimum of once per year, but ideally more often as priorities change throughout the year.


The metrics used to track Discover’s People Goal include:

  • An internal mobility goal of 60 percent (currently tracking at 70 percent year to date)
  • A development plans goal of 100 percent (currently tracking at 94 percent YTD)
  • A retention of top performers goal of 95 percent (currently at 98 percent YTD)
  • An engagement overall score goal of 4.13

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