Grow Your Employees With an Individual Development Plan

Are you constantly scrambling to hire new employees to fill critical roles? Do you feel like your current employees lack the skills and experience to move up in the organization? Are your employees leaving because they claim they don’t see any opportunities for advancement? These are problems that are all too common within many organizations. We spend so much time recruiting and hiring the right people, but once they sign on the dotted line, we forget about investing in them for the future. We fail to listen and invest in the people who cause our organization to flourish. 

Identifying the problem is easy, it is coming up with a feasible solution that is the hard part. Well, I have good news! I have a document, that if taken seriously and actually applied, can transform your organization and give you the satisfied, skilled employees that you need. This document is called an Individual Development Plan (or IDP for short).  These plans are frequently used in the federal government, but as the private sector begins to see the immense benefits, they are being adopted by large corporations, small companies and non-profits. 

An IDP is an employee generated plan that provides both short and long-range goals for the employee’s professional development. Although it is employee generated, it is a joint effort between the employee and supervisor to develop a realistic plan that will enrich the employee professionally as well as help the organization to accomplish their goals. It gives the employee a voice in where they want to go within the organization and the steps they can take to get there. The plan can outline goals such as moving up into management or becoming proficient in a different work area, and it should give concrete steps on how to make that goal a reality. These steps might include continuing education, cross-training in different areas, and receiving consistent mentoring on achieving the goals. 

Some important things to include in an IDP are both short and long-term career goals. A short-term goal may be something like receiving a specific certification this year, while a long-term goal may be moving up into a position such as CFO. All goals should also have dates to increase accountability. The plan should also detail the needed education and training which will help the employee to reach their goals. The plan should be evaluated and updated at least once a year. 

An IDP should not be something created by the organization to force their objectives onto the employee. Yes, the supervisor should work with the employee to make sure the plan is realistic and is consistent with the needs and goals of the organization, but it shouldn’t be something management creates for the employee to accomplish their goals. This is what an employee’s work plan is for. This is an area where employees can have their voice heard. 

If you start giving your employees a voice in where they want to go and giving them the tools they need to succeed, you will be amazed at the talent growing within your organization. The days of searching for outside talent for key positions will be gone and your organization will be staffed with employees who really want to be there because they feel valued and invested in.