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Individual Development Plans

A Structured Approach Training and Development

What is an Individual Development Plan (IDP)?

  • A formal document that specifies an individual’s development goals and how they are to be accomplished (including resources, time, importance)
  • A negotiated plan designed to meet an organization’s overall mission goals and objectives and close competency gaps in a structured way
  • A “living document” subject to change as work schedules, goals, and even budgets shift
  • A “non-binding” agreement between supervisor and employee, used solely to help them agree on training plans over a specific period of time (normally one year)

When do we use IDPs?

  • To identify and assess future developmental needs or competency areas
  • To provide structured learning experiences linked to an organization’s goals and objectives
  • To establish agreed-upon developmental activities for the employee’s career development
  • To promote formal career development
  • To structure a means by which to fill employee organizational competency gaps

How do we use IDPs?

  • First, assess the individual’s current skills and strengths
  • Compare the assessment with individual’s abilities and current competencies required
  • Identify developmental opportunities
  • Draft a proposed plan
  • Employee and supervisor meet informally to discuss modifications
  • Employee or supervisor reviews and finalizes the document

Note: Regular update sessions are a good idea, but not required. Normally, employee and supervisor reconvene after a period of one year, unless a major change to the document is required. An IDP is a living document that changes based on upcoming needs.

  • Both employee and supervisor rely on the IDP as a roadmap to success
  • At the end of the performance year, or at another agreed-upon time, both the supervisor and employee meet to review the IDP to determine successes and areas for improvement. These adjustments are then incorporated into the next (new) IDP for the coming year

How to use an IDP to achieve success!

  • Managers who promote IDPs are telling their employees that each person’s development is an organizational priority
  • Supervisors need to allow employees to attend their planned training—missed training is a major reason for failure of an IDP
  • Supervisors can use IDPs as motivators, to focus the approach to training and development rather than a random, ad-hoc approach
  • An IDP can serve as a retention tool

Do IDPs work?

  • Enable a structured approach to training
  • Help the organization to focus an office’s training goals
  • Maximize an organization’s budget by using an organized and planned approach to training


For more information on IDPs, visit:

Attachment Size
IDP sample (blank) 136 KB
IDP sample 2 (filled) 138.5 KB
DOC IDP Manual 226.15 KB