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Individual Development Plans 


Performance Management:

Individual Development Plan*

Managing performance is larger than just helping team members perform well on short-term assignments and goals.  To improve employee performance over the longer haul, it is important to establish long-range developmental needs.   This requires a realistic action plan that shapes developmental growth—an Individual Development Plan (IDP).

What Is an IDP?  An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is...

  • A clear statement of an employee's career goals,

  • A map for attaining goals that specifies immediate and long-range developmental needs,

  • An individually-tailored action plan to develop specific competencies (knowledge and skills) needed to improve performance in a current position or to prepare for new responsibilities,

  • A written plan for scheduling and managing an employee's development,

  • A tool for a supervisor to estimate resources needed for employee development training.

The IDP process is a continuing cycle of planning, implementation and evaluation between a team leader and individual team members for the mutual benefit of both the employee and the organization. An IDP requires time to:

  • Analyze job requirements,

  • Assess current competencies and

  • Make informed decisions about developmental needs.

Note that an IDP and a performance appraisal have the same focus--fostering individual and organizational improvement. However, a performance appraisal is more like an end-of-year profit and loss statement while an IDP is an investment plan. They should work together, but they have different orientations.

Benefits of an IDP for Team Members and Team Leaders

IDP's shall provide meaningful training plans that will help the…


Team Member to...

Team Leaders to ...

Perform duties according to established job standards,

Improve job performance,

Set reasonable goals,

Assess particular strengths and weaknesses

Schedule and plan individual development each year.

Aid in the development of their team members to achieve the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies to meet performance standards.

Accurately document the current developmental needs for their team

Clarify team needs, mission changes, changes in technology, expected turnover, staffing needs, program plans and future needs for particular skills.


The IDP Process: Four Phases

 There are four phases of the IDP Process:

1. Employee-Team Leader  Conference

2. Developmental Activity Selection

3. Preparing the IDP Form

4. Implementing the IDP

Phase One: Joint Conference
The first phase of developing and IDP is the employee/team leader conference.  The purpose of this joint conference is to identify developmental needs and discuss optimum capacity building activities.

A. The employee must come prepared to discuss…

where he has been (what training he has had),

where he is now (both developed and underdeveloped competencies), and

where he wants to be (both short-range and long-range work goals).

B. The team leader must provide honest and open feedback and identify what he/she feels are competency development needs.

C. Together they must do the following:

Discuss critical job requirements and responsibilities

Outline the knowledge and skills needed to perform the work

Identify an employee's talents and needs

Define individual job satisfaction

Detail developmental activities that will support the employee’s capacity development; then prioritize the activities; and subsequently identify criteria to measure and evaluate employee growth.

Phase Two: Developmental Activities Selection

In this phase of the IDP process the team leader and the employee must match identified developmental needs with available development activities. The goal is to select activities that provide maximum learning but stay within the organization’s mission, budget, travel restriction, staff requirements, and time/work restraints.

The activities are generally of four different types:

On-the-job training that includes individualized coaching, mentoring, and/or counseling.

Formal classroom training either on or off site.

Self -development where the employee secures training on his own: evening classes, training videos, online courses, correspondence self-study, personal reading, etc.

Developmental activities within the workplace such as shadowing, task force assignments, short-term assignments in other areas, etc.

Phase Three: Completing the IDP Form

It is important to formally document the IDP by completing and signing the IDP form.  The employee must complete the form and present it to the team leader for sign off.  Here the participants can finalize agreements concerning what is to be done and when, how performance will be assessed, and what the intended results will look like.

After signing the form, a copy should be filed with HR or the Training Office.

Phase Four: Implementing the IDP  

Once the specific activities identified in the IDP are approved, it is up to the employee to carry through with the experience. The team leader will support and guide the employee, but the primary responsibility for successfully reaching the goals rests with individual team members.

Note that just participating in the developmental activities is not enough.  It is vital that the employee apply the learning to the job.  In periodic IDP performance reviews the participant and the team leader can discuss how the new training has been translated into practice and improved performance.

Note that it is important for both the employee and the team leader to be flexible.  This means staying open to IDP changes as training and conditions evolve.

The IDP process is in reality an ongoing and vibrant learning journey.


*Adapted from the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency