Individual Development Plans

Career development planning benefits the individual employee as well as the organization by aligning employee training and development efforts with the organization’s mission, goals, and objectives. An individual development plan (IDP) is a tool to assist employees in achieving their personal and professional development goals. IDPs help employees and supervisors set expectations for specific learning objectives and competencies. While an IDP is not a performance evaluation tool or a one-time activity, IDPs allow supervisors to clarify performance expectations. IDPs should be viewed as a partnership between an employee and their supervisor, and involves preparation and continuous feedback. Many agencies require IDPs for new and current employees, and encourage employees to update them annually.

When using an IDP, supervisors develop a better understanding of their employees’ professional goals, strengths, and development needs. Employees take personal responsibility and accountability for their career development, acquiring or enhancing the skills they need to stay current in their roles. Some of the benefits of an IDP are:
Provide an administrative mechanism for identifying and tracking development needs and plans

Assist in planning for the agency’s training and development requirements

Align employee training and development efforts with its mission, goals, and objectives

There are no regulatory requirements mandating employees complete IDPs within the Federal Government, although many employee and leadership development programs require IDPs (e.g. PMF Program). Completing IDPs is considered good management practice, and many agencies have developed their own IDP planning process and forms. While there is no one “correct” form for recording an employee’s development plan, an effective plan should include, at minimum, the following key elements:

Employee profile – name, position title, office, grade/pay band
Career goals – short-term and long-term goals with estimated and actual competion dates
Development objectives – linked to work unit mission/goals/objectives and employee’s development needs and objectives

Training and development opportunities – activities in which the employee will pursue with estimated and actual completion dates. These activities may include formal classroom training, web-based training, rotational assignments, shadowing assignments, on-the-job training, self-study programs, and professional conferences/seminars
Signatures – supervisor and employee signature and date
For more information on IDPs and to view IDP templates, please visit the OPM Training and Development Wiki.

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