Start an Individual Development Plan with a Few Easy Steps

ask.fedweek.com | start a career development plan in a few easy steps

See also, Part 1: Four Steps to Planning Your Career

An Individual Development Plan (IDP) can help you stay on course toward achieving your career development goals. But where and how do you begin? With these tips, you will learn to identify and describe your goals, choose activities that will help you meet them, set key milestones, and create a timeline for the completion of your goals.

Brainstorming and Preparation
To start the IDP process, first spend some time thinking about your career. As you do, ask yourself these questions:

As you consider these questions, write down your thoughts and note the areas with which you might need help. Be open and honest about your developmental needs. Finally, write down any career goals that emerge as a part of this brainstorm.

IDPs: Getting Started
Once you finish brainstorming, you should have some initial ideas for goals and relevant developmental opportunities. Now, begin to organize these ideas. Depending on where you work, you may have access to an IDP form. Your supervisor or HR specialist should be able to provide you with a form or another option if your organization does not participate in a formalized IDP process.

Generally, your IDP should include the following:

Creating Strong Goals
Don’t be afraid to set tough, but realistic, goals for yourself. Good career goals will help you to identify and focus your developmental efforts, bringing you closer to where you want to be in your career. By capturing both long-term (3-5 years) and short-term (1-2 years) goals, you can make sure your current efforts are supporting your future ambitions. Try to capture at least one long-term career goal and three to six short-term career goals in your IDP.

As you develop your IDP, make sure all of your goals:

Roles and Responsibilities for the IDP Process
To make your IDP experience as productive and efficient as possible, it helps to understand your role and your supervisor’s role in the process.

Your role is to:

Your supervisor’s role is to:

Planning for Your IDP Conversation
Once you’ve developed your IDP, you’ll want to set a time for reviewing your plan with your supervisor. Your supervisor is a valuable resource for your career planning and can help you explore possibilities you may not have considered.

The purpose of an IDP meeting with your supervisor is to come away with a comprehensive plan for your development. This includes goals as well as action items that will help you pursue your goals. You will have the opportunity to share what you have brainstormed and your supervisor will help you explore possibilities you may not have considered.

Be sure to schedule a follow-up meeting to review and adjust your plan as needed and check on your progress toward your goals.

Making Your IDP Conversation a Success
To make the most out of your conversation with your supervisor about your IDP:

*Hat tip to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their excellent advice on career development.