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Complete personal development plan

How to Complete an Individual Development Plan

Perhaps you’ve heard of the professional growth tool called the Individual Development Plan (or IDP for short). They often prove handy for many organization seeking to develop employees’ skills (leadership & functional) in preparation for what’s next. In some cases, entire sectors (such as the U.S. government) require the completion of IDPs on an annual or semi-annual basis. Other organizations have a more ad hoc system involving the use of IDPs.


So what makes the IDP so special? In this post I’ll explain what an IDP is, why it’s so important, and then share some steps showing how to complete one. At the bottom of the post I’ll include a link to an IDP template you can use for yourself or your team.

What is an IDP?

An IDP is three things. First, it is simply a plan to develop or grow strategically in a professional setting (although you may certainly use one for personal growth as well). It is completed by the employee (sometimes in collaboration with a supervisor, career coach, or HR representative). Second, an IDP is not the same as a performance plan, although the two do complement each other. A performance plan highlights the objectives and results that must be achieved as a part of an employee’s inherent job responsibilities. An individual development plan highlights the growth an employee pre-plans during a period of time. Performance plans may be identical for some (or all) the members of a team whereas IDPs will probably be unique. Third, an IDP is a living plan. It changes over time as growth occurs.

Why is an IDP Important?

In his book, John Maxwell says that experience is a hard teacher because the test is given first and the lesson is given afterward. But unless you are intentional about evaluating the experience, there’s a good chance of missing out on the lesson! That’s what an IDP does. Think of performance as the “test” and development as the “lesson.” An IDP makes the lesson intentional by pre-planning for it. Without a plan for development, effectiveness is evaluated on a pass/fail basis of performance outcomes. An IDP should raise performance results over time as individual capacity increases. IDPs also allow employees and organizations to communicate and reach consensus on what constitutes a developmental win.

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How To Develop Communication Skills

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