• Our solution
  • Request a demo
  • L&D strategy
  • Empowering growth
  • Measuring impact
  • Trends and insights
  • Our Solution

The individual development plan: Benefits, best practices, and examples

Individual development plan

An individual development plan isn’t just a way to facilitate a single employee’s growth. In today’s competitive talent market, IDPs are advantageous for the entire organization. 

Opportunities to learn new skills and advance within a company rank among the top five things job seekers are looking for this year. Employers that take note are likely to gain an advantage in terms of both talent retention and engagement. 

How to implement individual development plans

Individual development plans have been used for decades in performance evaluations and succession planning. They’re often regarded as a one-time activity for new hires, or a tool for remediating performance problems. But when created collaboratively with an employee’s career goals in mind, an individual development plan can be a valuable tool for supporting their ongoing growth. 

IDPs identify development experiences that help employees succeed in their position and prepare them for increased responsibility in positions aligned with their career goals. However, they’re not a substitute for performance appraisals or a promise of promotion.

The IDP process requires managers to create a climate of trust and psychological safety.

An individual development plan identifies specific actions an employee will take to expand their skills and gain relevant experience. L&D or HR staff can support employees by suggesting development opportunities and connecting them with any necessary resources . 

Supervisors can then meet with their direct reports periodically, perhaps quarterly, to check on progress and provide constructive feedback. This requires managers to establish a climate of trust and psychological safety in which employees feel comfortable discussing their aspirations and performance.

The necessary components of an individual development plan

Many organizations start by defining a set of guidelines for creating an individual development plan, and then provide training to both employees and managers. The process often begins with an employee’s self-assessment and identification of their career goals. 

The most effective IDPs are developed collaboratively by employees and their supervisors. Yale University’s guide for creating an individual development plan describes the process as a partnership led by the employee and supported by the manager. 

The steps in Yale’s process include:

  • Identify professional goals and motivations
  • Determine strengths and development opportunities
  • Plan objectives and action steps
  • Discuss and refine the plan with management
  • Act on the plan

Employees document their responses to a series of prompts for steps one through three using a conversation tool that serves as the basis for meeting with their manager. While the terminology and tools used may differ, most organizations follow a similar process. 

Individual development plan example for employees

There is no universal standard for what should be included in an individual development plan, but most templates share a few common elements. 

One model lays out five key components to include: strengths, development opportunities, long-term career vision, short-term career plan, and immediate growth areas. The long-term career vision serves as a north star that keeps employees focused, providing a sense of meaning and purpose.

Closing the leadership gap how to build a pipeline of leaders.

Yale’s individual development plan template includes: professional goals, talents and strengths to build upon, knowledge and skills development opportunities, focused objectives, and action steps to achieve those goals (such as learning from a mentor or earning a professional certification).

The following example uses elements from both of the above templates. Organizations can use this example, or adapt any one of the templates available online. Here is what the individual development plan looks like, once filled out by an employee. 

Employee Name: John Doe

Date Completed: January 1

Long-Term Career Vision:

  • What do you want your career to look like five or more years from now?
  • What would you find professionally fulfilling?

I would like to be leading my own B2C marketing team within five years.

Short-Term Career Objectives:

  • What are your short-term goals over the next one to five years?
  • Include any promotion goals or desired role changes.

Within the next year I would like to transition from the B2B marketing team to the B2C team.


  • What skills and knowledge can you leverage to meet your goals?
  • What should you continue doing, and perhaps do more of?

I’ve been told I’m empathetic and a natural leader. I’m a fast learner but need to free up more time to learn the ropes of B2C marketing.

Development Opportunities:

  • What skills and knowledge should you work on developing further?
  • How will developing in these areas help you achieve your career goals?

I have no formal training or experience in a B2C role. I want to learn more about B2C marketing strategies and technologies. I would also like to gain an understanding of the sort of metrics a team leader keeps an eye on regularly.

Action Plan:

  • What steps will you take to support your career objectives?
  • For each action step, provide a target completion date and identify any support you will need from your manager.

Action Step 1: Shadow a B2C team leader once a month during the first half of the year.

Anticipated Completion: June 30

Management Support Needed: Help identify a leader for me to shadow.

Action Step 2: Successfully complete the online “Mastering B2C Marketing” course.

Anticipated Completion: End of Q3

Management Support Needed: Allow time off for training.

Individual development plan example for leadership, supervisors, and managers 

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating an individual development plan for the leadership team. However, these will look slightly different once filled out, as the action steps are often more in-depth. Here is an example, using the same template, completed by a supervisor for her own development.

Employee Name: Jane Doe

Date Completed: January 1  

I would like to become the director of a department within seven years.

Within the next three to five years I hope to be promoted to a senior management role.  

I have strong time management skills and am good at keeping projects on schedule. My technical skills are strong, and I make it a point to keep them up to date as technologies evolve.

My communication skills aren’t as strong as I’d like them to be in one-on-one and group settings. I also feel that in particular, my public speaking and presentation skills could be improved.  

Action Step 1: Successfully complete the online course, “Communication Skills for Leaders.”

Anticipated Completion: March 31

Management Support Needed: I will need three hours of training time during business hours.

Action Step 2: Request feedback on my communication skills from each of my team members.

Anticipated Completion: Ongoing, beginning April 1

Management Support Needed: None

Action Step 3: Join the local chapter of Toastmasters International and attend meetings monthly.

Management Support Needed: Toastmasters’ membership fee.

Final thoughts

According to McKinsey , more than 80% of employees moving into new roles do so by changing employers. Organizations are in danger of losing their top talent, but a number of studies have shown a connection between professional development opportunities and increased retention. Implementing an individual development plan process and offering employees support along the way, is a smart move in the right direction.   

Sign up to receive new research and insights every other Tuesday. 

adult learning theory


Insights from Engagedly’s State of AI in HRM, 2nd Edition Survey.

  • Engagedly Blog

Talent Management

What is an individual development plan (idp) why do you need it.

why individual development plan is important

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

why individual development plan is important

With the global economy’s massive transformation, upskilling and reskilling have started to rank higher on organizations’ priority lists. Today’s workplace demands that all employees can access abundant relevant professional and personal development opportunities.

Employees seek growth opportunities and stay with employers who can provide them. A recent survey found that 94% of the employees feel that if the company invests in their professional development, they will stay with the company longer. Another poll concluded that 58% of employees (62% of whom were Millennials and GenX) feel professional development opportunities are essential for job satisfaction.

Considering this, employers have started introducing several training and development programs devised especially for their employees. However, sprinkling in a few extra learning opportunities isn’t going to make much of an impact on employee engagement strategies. Organizations require meaningful and sustainable tools that ensure robust learning and development opportunities while reaching business goals and objectives. One such tool is creating an effective IDP ( individual development plan ).

What is an Individual Development Plan?

An individual development plan (IDP) is a documented process that provides a roadmap for an employee to reach their career goals while contributing to the organization’s growth and success. It is a developmental action plan to encourage and assist employees to guide them from where they are now to where they want to go in their careers.

An individual development plan links the individual’s career interests and goals to organizational goals. It is a systematic approach that aims at improving performance and strengthening employer-employee relations.

The following are the major goals of preparing an individual development plan:

  • Identify and teach new skills to perform a new job role.
  • Fine-tune skills to maximize current performance in the existing job role.
  • Increase job satisfaction and job engagement. A study reveals that organizations that offer development opportunities to their employees are likely to have retention rates 34% higher than their counterparts.
  • Plan employees’ career advancement , prepare for promotion, or plan succession.

Benefits of Creating an Individual Development Plan

For the company:

  • Quick identification and establishment of long-term and short-term goals
  • Understanding the knowledge skill   gap
  • Assist in making plans for the company’s training and development necessities
  • Preparing a talent pool for succession planning
  • Visual representation of timelines for various activities and assignments
  • Building trust and effective communication between the employer and the employee
  • Increased employee engagement , performance, and productivity
  • Assists in the performance evaluation process
  • Valuable insights for training and needs analysis 

For the employee:

  • Understanding personal goals
  • Understanding their contribution to the organization’s objectives
  • Improved mental health in the workplace due to increased job satisfaction and engagement
  • Gaining a sense of direction 
  • Understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses

A study found that 74% of workers feel that a lack of standardized development opportunities keeps employees from performing at their best. By defining clear goals and providing access to training opportunities, the employer gives employees an opportunity for promotion and inculcates a sense of belonging and purpose. These elements are pivotal for fostering a high-performance work environment .

Role of IDP in Performance Evaluation

By combining IDP with a performance assessment system, employers can assist personnel in attaining their optimum potential, leading to a stronger, more capable workforce. Being goal-oriented can help employees become dedicated and driven toward achieving their personal and professional goals.

Managers can use the IDP framework in overall performance reviews to identify and reward high-performers and address the needs of employees seeking improvement. By providing a clear career plan and systematic roadmap, organizations can improve overall employee engagement and retention rates, boost productivity, and nurture an engaged body of workers.

Managers can ascertain employees’ progress by comparing IDP goals and their achievements at the end of the established timeline. It helps pinpoint what’s working and what must be improved.

What are the IDP Goals for Development?

individual development plan

Short-term goals are the outcomes a company would want an employee to achieve in the next few months or years. Long-term goals, on the other hand, are the outcomes expected in the next 4-5 years. Short-term goals can include completing a certification course or classroom training program. The long-term goal can be to get promoted to one scale higher in the organization in the next few years.

These goals should follow the SMART framework. SMART goals are:

  • Specific : Goals must have a specific purpose. For example, increasing loan lead conversion rate to 5%.
  • Measurable : The manager or supervisor should be able to measure the goals. For example, the number of leads converted in a quarter.
  • Achievable : Goals shouldn’t be too easy or too difficult. They should be realistic.
  • Relevant : Goals should drive an organization’s success while helping employees advance.
  • Time-bound : There should be specific timelines for achieving each goal.

Also read: Set SMART Goals and Avoid These 4 Goal-Setting Mistakes

Steps involved in the individual development plan process.

Here are six steps to preparing an individual development plan for an employee:

Step 1: Conduct Employee Self-Assessment

Self-assessment forms the basic foundation for preparing an IDP. This step aims to discover an employee’s strengths, weaknesses, career goals, and aspirations. To understand this, the employee must highlight their professional experience, qualifications, and specific skills or knowledge.

Step 2: Set Clearly Defined Goals

Once employees and employers know their career goals, they must divide them into subgoals. An employee and employer can also set more than one long-term goal. For example, long-term career planning (promotion, for example) can be clubbed with a few health or fitness goals.

Step 3: Develop Strategies for Upskilling

Employees must be equipped with the requisite resources, skills, and knowledge to achieve short-term and long-term goals . Examine an employee’s current skill set and those required to reach their career goals. These development strategies include on-the-job training, off-the-job training, or both.

Step 4: Set Timelines

One of the major aspects of setting goals is having clearly defined deadlines for each goal. It encourages employees to stay on track and helps managers easily monitor their progress.

Step 5: Follow Up

As employees work toward their goals, they might encounter challenges. Managers play a crucial role in helping them overcome these obstacles by providing necessary resources, knowledge, and support. This ongoing support allows for adjustments to the plan if needed.

Also read: 5 Simple Ways To Build A High-Performance Team

Individual development plans stand as a powerful tool to enhance an organization’s workforce. Providing valuable guidance to both employees and employers, these plans contribute to efficient working. While individual development plans aren’t an instant remedy for talent gaps and employee engagement issues, organizations that invest time and resources in establishing a robust IDP program are likely to witness positive impacts on their workforce and workplace dynamics.

For more ways to effectively create an individual development plan, try Engagedly . The all-in-one software helps employers keep track of their employee’s growth and development while ensuring transparency and efficiency. Additionally, the cloud-based platform offers performance management and employee engagement tools to help teams and organizations define, monitor, and achieve their objectives and key results. Schedule a demo today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. what is an individual development plan (idp).

An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a documented process that serves as a roadmap for employees to navigate their career goals while contributing to the growth and success of the organization. It outlines specific developmental actions designed to encourage and assist employees in progressing from their current position to their desired or necessary future roles.

Q2. Why do organizations need Individual Development Plans (IDPs)?

Organizations benefit from Individual Development Plans (IDPs) as they provide a structured approach to employee growth and contribute to organizational success. IDPs offer clear guidance for employees, ensuring efficient work and skill development. 

Q3. How often should employees update their Individual Development Plans (IDPs)?

The frequency of updating IDPs depends on individual career goals, project timelines, and organizational changes. Generally, it’s recommended to review and update IDPs annually or during performance appraisal cycles.

Subscribe To The Engagedly Newsletter 

Srikant Chellappa is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engagedly and is a passionate entrepreneur and people leader. He is an author, producer/director of 6 feature films, a music album with his band Manchester Underground, and is the host of The People Strategy Leaders Podcast . He is currently working on his next book, Ikigai at the Workplace, which is slated for release in the fall of 2024.

MBP Podcast with Srikant chellappa

Make Your People Care About Your Business: Insights from MBP Podcast with Srikant Chellappa

Digital talent management strategy

10 Considerations for a Digital Talent Management Strategy

Career stagnation

The ‘Great Talent Stagnation’: 7 Biggest Threats to Careers in 2024

Privacy preference center, privacy preferences.

HR Mavericks

Individual Development Plan

Brent Watson

What Is an Individual Development Plan?

Individual development plan vs performance improvement plan, why is an individual development plan important.

  • Direction. IDPs provide employees with greater focus, determination and purpose. Their job transforms from solely a paycheck to a step in obtaining their professional goals. Your employee’s supervisors also benefit in the sense that they better know how to support this individual in reaching their goals. It also allows them to keep an eye out for opportunities where they can be an advocate for a specific employee.
  • Commitment. Employees notice when the company invests in their professional development. This investment builds morale and a desire to stay with the organization. Your employee will become a more well-rounded leader that can analyze a situation from different angles. Their knowledge stays within the company which can then be passed onto new hires.
  • Opportunities. Your employees were hired to fulfill specific company needs. By identifying the current knowledge, skills, abilities your employees want to have, as well as the direction they want to pursue can provide you with an opportunity to meet future company needs. Rather than investing time and resources in hiring, you can use them for an internal employee that has interests in that area. You have encountered a win-win situation for them and the company.

How Do I Create an Individual Development Plan?

Step 1: write down professional goals, step 2: list current skills, step 3: identify resources, step 4: talk with your supervisor, step 5: create milestones, step 6: review frequently, how to implement individual development plans for employees, step 1: talk with your employees, step 2: document knowledge, skills and abilities, step 3: identify talent gaps, step 4: create time-specific action steps, step 5: evaluate your progress, examples of individual development plans, example 1: a future consultant, example 2: a mortgage loan officer in the making.

Brent Watson

Brent Watson


Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Brent Watson

  • Eddy Overview
  • People Management
  • Time Tracking
  • Training Tracking
  • HR Encyclopedia
  • HR Mavericks Podcast
  • Help Center
  • Contact Support

why individual development plan is important

Individual Development Plans: How to Drive Employee Career Growth

Individual development plans: how to drive employee career growth

An individual development plan (IDP) is a documented career guideline created by employees and managers to help employees grow and reach career goals. IDPs are adaptable and intended to grow with the employee throughout their career journey. The key purposes and benefits of individual development plans are to increase employee retention, improve employee engagement, identify training opportunities, and empower employees to lead confidently from a position of strength. 

Employees’ desire to grow and develop is a performance management truth that cannot be ignored. An article by Medium states that 94% of employees said they would stay there longer if a company invests in employee careers. Though every organization may have a different employee engagement definition , those focused on fostering employee career growth  and improving retention must incorporate individual development plans to develop strengths, manage weaknesses, and pursue training opportunities.

What is an Individual Development Plan?

An individual development plan (IDP) is a documented career guideline created by employees and managers to help employees grow and reach career goals. IDPs are adaptable and intended to grow with the employee throughout their career journey. 

Employees need to see that their desired future is tangible. A key component to successful performance management is aligning career paths to the mission and vision of the organization. When employees can tie their growth to this anchor, they gain a clear understanding that their strengths and skills will be invaluable in the long term. Individual development plans provide employees with a visual representation of the future they can strive towards.

The Purpose and Benefits of IDPs

Teams have different needs but one thing remains the same: employees need to know that they are valued. Intentionally crafted IDPs show employees that their development is not only a priority but also a core strategy for improving the business’s bottom line. The list below highlights the key purposes and benefits of individual development plans: 

1. Increase Employee Retention According to the NIH , individual development plans increase interests, challenges, and satisfaction in employees’ current positions and maximize performance in support of organizational requirements. Employees who are satisfied in their roles and feel challenged often are less likely to seek additional job opportunities

2. Improve Employee Engagement The employee journey matters. Gallup states that the 5 major drivers of employee engagement are purpose, development, a caring manager, ongoing conversations, and a focus on strengths. Here is how the individual development plan tackles each of these:

  • Purpose – When IDPs are tied to the organization’s mission, employees see the direct impact of their professional development. Their work has a deeper meaning and it empowers them to strive for greater success. 
  • Development – The entire premise of IDPs is the development of skills, while identifying training opportunities for the employee to reach their professional and personal potential. 
  • A Caring Manager- Effective IDPs are developed with both manager and employee input. The manager’s responsibility is to act as a coach and invest the necessary time and attention to ensure their employee is flourishing and has the support for future career growth.
  • Ongoing Conversations – Strong performance management consists of continuous, ongoing feedback and the individual development plan is a core aspect. Thoughtful managers will stay accountable for holding development conversations at a consistent frequency. 
  • Focus on Strengths – Effective IDPs are designed to identify and harness the unique strengths of individual employees. It’s one thing to know the talents of your direct reports, but the true purpose of an individual development plan is to empower employees to lead confidently from a position of strength.

3. Improve Business Performance Over The Long-Term

High-performing organizations make investments in employee career growth and development, which leads to sustainable, improved long-term business performance. Emphasizing the importance of individual development plans not only shows employees that their talents matter, but it also guarantees that future leaders are being developed. 

IDPs unveil training opportunities that help employees reach their next desired role and responsibilities. When done well, IDPs inform the leadership succession planning process by highlighting skills that have been primed and are ready to be utilized. Individual development plans expose employee behaviors that are representative of the company’s core values, thereby further validating who is- or is not- ready for an increase in responsibility or a career promotion. 

What is the Difference Between an IDP and a PIP?

Unfortunately, individual development plans are often confused with performance improvement plans or PIPs. In a SHRM article, Timothy Ford, an attorney with Einhorn Barbarito states, “A PIP should be used primarily to facilitate improved performance by identifying deficiencies while providing an opportunity for improvement and success.” In practice, employees know that when ‘PIP’ enters the conversation, it means it is the final effort made before termination. 

Though PIPs are created as a reaction to suffering performance, individual development plans help employees reach career goals. IDPs are a natural fit in the performance management process and should be developed for all employees. PIPs, however,  are reserved for those who are struggling to meet expectations. PIPs discipline poor performance. IDPs cultivate increased performance. 

How to Write an Individual Development Plan

To empower employees to achieve meaningful, continuous professional development, the following list details what should be included in a strong individual development plan. 

  • Target development areas – Development areas may include competencies, job requirements, skills, or system knowledge and expertise. These areas should identify specific growth opportunities for the employee.
  • Success measures – These measures should answer the question, “What does ‘done’ look like?” Whatever the highlighted area is, the success measure defines and helps to crystallize the end result.
  • Tasks – Tasks should answer the questions, “What will you do to get from now to ‘done’?” and “What resources will you need?” These are quantifiable actions the employee must take to grow in this particular skill, such as attending certification training or watching an informative webinar. 
  • Completion date – For optimal accountability, each task must include a completion date with the understanding that IDPs should be flexible, not rigid. 

Best-in-class IDPs will also include a section devoted to talent insight. This should help to elaborate on the employee’s greatest strengths, development needs, risks/liabilities, and their greatest value to the organization. The WorkDove Individual Deveopment Plan app generates a visual snapshot of the individual’s talent profile that grows with the employee along their career journey. 

WorkDove IDP+ app screenshot

In certain cases, organizations may find it beneficial to incorporate a personal improvement plan as part of the IDP. As mentioned earlier regarding PIPs, the inclusion of an improvement plan encourages ongoing discussions surrounding areas of concern, manager observations, and necessary corrective actions. It should be noted, however, that performance improvement plans are only a temporary addition to the individual development plan, if applicable, and not a fundamental component.

Effective IDPs will act as a coaching resource for managers to retain and develop the talent of their direct reports. When written with intentionality, IDPs will align managers and their employees to a plan for continuous employee development. 

How WorkDove's IDPs Elevate Employee Development

WorkDove is passionate about the employee journey and our IDP app turns that devotion into reality. With configurable development plans, talent review cards, and integration into performance check-ins, our tool aligns employee development with the overarching mission. IDP+ acts as a single source of truth for employee growth tracks without the risk of disparate systems or unreliable manual processes. Deepen coaching relationships and get your team members excited about their future at your organization with intuitive individual development plans.

Recent Content

Goals, KPIs, and OKRs blog graphic

How To Use Goals, KPIs, and OKRs With Examples

How to Build a Values-Based Employee Recognition Program

How to Build a Values-Based Employee Recognition Program

Company Culture: What It Is And How To Improve It

Company Culture: What It Is And How To Improve It

why individual development plan is important

  • (888)-505-0650
  • [email protected]

G2 Winter 2024 Highest User Adoption mid-market

Privacy Overview

cookielawinfo-checkbox-analytics11 monthsThis cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".
cookielawinfo-checkbox-functional11 monthsThe cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".
cookielawinfo-checkbox-necessary11 monthsThis cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".
cookielawinfo-checkbox-others11 monthsThis cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.
cookielawinfo-checkbox-performance11 monthsThis cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".
viewed_cookie_policy11 monthsThe cookie is set by the GDPR Cookie Consent plugin and is used to store whether or not user has consented to the use of cookies. It does not store any personal data.

NEW People Analytics: Achieve business objectives with your HR strategy. Learn more →

  • Sales (US): +1 415 636 8011
  • Sales (UK): +44 20 3744 2922
  • Sales (AU): +61 3 7035 1005

Last updated June 9, 2023

A guide to creating a successful individual development plan

  • Share article via Email Share article via Email
  • Share article on LinkedIn Share article on LinkedIn
  • Share article on Twitter Share article on Twitter
  • Share article on Facebook Share article on Facebook

White text reading "How to create successful individual development plans" over a maroon background

Writer, Culture Amp

Employee development is most helpful to your employees when it’s intentional and carefully planned. In fact, Culture Amp research found that employees who don’t feel they have access to clear development opportunities are 41% more likely to leave their current company.

This is where individual development plans (IDPs) are especially valuable. These detailed plans clearly outline an employee’s career goals along with the tangible steps the employee can take to achieve their goals.

In this blog, we explain what an individual development plan is, why they’re important, and how to create one. We’ll also give you individual development plan examples and a template so you can build your own and start prioritizing employee growth today.

What is an individual development plan?

An individual development plan, also known as a personal development plan , is an actionable document used to guide employee development. It defines an individual’s long-term career goals, highlights their current strengths, lists areas of improvement, and shares an action plan detailing how the employee can invest in their skills and make their career aspirations a reality.

An IDP is typically a collaborative document created by an employee and their manager. These plans are often put together following professional development conversations, which are typically held complementary to, yet separate from, a company’s formal performance management process .

Why are individual development plans important?

IDPs are a crucial part of employee development. Aside from helping employees define the next steps in their careers, individual development plans also:

  • Guide employee growth: IDPs outline the steps employees can take today to reach their larger career goals tomorrow. They provide clarity and direction while breaking larger goals into attainable tasks. They also empower employees to take ownership of their growth and development.
  • Inform managers: Managers that know their direct reports’ long- and short-term career aspirations are equipped to be better coaches and advocates. IDPs give each manager a detailed account of employee strengths, goals, and action plans to support direct reports throughout their career journey.
  • Boost loyalty : Showing employees that your business is invested in their development can inspire loyalty and trust.
  • Increase productivity: Working towards a tangible goal can keep employees motivated and productive.
  • Improve retention: When employees can imagine a future with your business, they are likelier to pursue their career goals within your company.

A step-by-step guide to making an IDP

While an IDP has a few different components, these plans aren’t difficult to make. You can help an employee create an individual development plan in just four steps. Here’s how:

1. Complete a self-reflection

To start, have the employee fill out a self-reflection . The reflection should touch on three key areas – the employee’s:

  • Motivation and strengths
  • Long-term career vision
  • Short-term objectives

Together, these criteria give employees a better understanding of their career goals and the skills and experience they will need to achieve this level of success. An honest and open self-reflection will guide the rest of the IDP process.

2. Build an actionable individual development plan

With the information from the self-reflection in hand, your employee is ready to start building their individual development plan. Walk them through these three steps:

  • Review your plan objective: This will most likely be the short-term objective from the self-reflection or what the employee will work towards following the creation of their individual development plan.
  • Identify growth areas: Work with the employee to determine the skills and behaviors they need to learn or strengthen to achieve their objective.
  • Build development goals: Lastly, encourage employees to set realistic, measurable goals that will help them improve the identified growth areas and bring them closer to their overall objective.

Let’s see what this looks like in practice. Here’s an individual development plan example for a sales account executive aspiring to become a regional sales manager:

Objective: To be promoted to a regional sales manager next review cycle

Growth areas:

  • Product knowledge
  • Leadership and coaching
  • Sales forecasting

Development goals:

  • Hit or exceed quota for the next three quarters
  • Receive a manager net promoter score of >70 during the following engagement survey
  • Improve internal awareness of my team’s performance by sharing a monthly recap email with senior department leaders

Using this detailed IDP, the employee will clearly understand the actions they need to take today to work towards their promotion.

3. Review the plan together

This step can go before or after step two, depending on your organization or employee preferences. Wherever you choose to place this step, just know that each employee and their manager must meet to discuss their self-assessment and proposed IDP. This ensures both parties agree about the employee’s strengths, areas for improvement, interests, goals, and organizational requirements.

During these conversations, encourage managers to ask lots of questions and work to understand each employee’s career aspirations. Managers can provide a business perspective and shed light on how they see business priorities evolving in the coming months. This will help employees envision how their career aspirations can align with changing business needs.

4. Implement the plan and evaluate outcomes

Now it’s time to get to work. While the employee pursues the training and development identified in the plan, meet with them frequently to help track progress, share feedback , and evaluate their performance. These continuous manager check-ins, or 1-on-1s , provide an external perspective, remove obstacles and barriers, and help employees reach their goals more efficiently.

Individual development plan template

Here’s a closer look at what to include in your IDPs as well as an individual development plan example to guide your creation.

1. Employee details

At the top of your plan, start with the key details – who the plan is for (employee name), their position/job title, their manager, and the creation date. This will help you keep track of the IDP and remember when it was made.

In the following examples, we’ll be creating an IDP for a content marketing specialist. Here are her employee details:

  • Employee Name: Jane Doe
  • Job Title: Content Marketing Specialist
  • Manager: John Smith
  • IDP Creation Date: January 15, 2023

2. Career goals

Next, document the individual’s specific job-related developmental goals, both immediate and long-term. In this example, our content marketing specialist wants to pivot her career to event planning. Her overarching goals might be:

  • Be an integral part of the company’s conference planning team
  • Advance into a role specializing in event planning

These goals will act as her North Star for the rest of the IDP creation process and influence what skills and experience she needs to develop to successfully complete her career pivot.

3. Strengths and development areas

Pulling from the employee’s self-assessment, jot down any skills, strengths, and developmental areas. For the aspiring event planner in our example, this might look like:

  • Organizational skills
  • Time management skills
  • Communication skills
  • Building strong interpersonal relationships

Development areas:

  • General event planning knowledge and skills
  • Familiarity with negotiation and budgeting
  • Learning how to use the company’s event software
  • Creative problem-solving

Now the employee has a clear picture of the strengths she can lean on as well as areas she needs to focus on in order to grow professionally and achieve her goal of becoming an amazing event planner.

4. Action plan

This section describes how the employee plans to acquire the knowledge and skills outlined above. At this stage, try to be creative by using various learning strategies and activities. Employees can learn and grow in many ways , including:

  • Classroom or online training programs
  • On-the-job training
  • Stretch assignments
  • Conferences
  • Professional certifications
  • Job shadowing
  • Mentorship programs

However your employee decides to improve their development areas, work with them to create a detailed, measurable action plan. Break down their overarching career goal into attainable steps they can start taking today. Include specific KPIs you and your employee can use to track progress and understand the impact.

To revisit our content marketing specialist example, her action plan could be:

  • Assist with the planning and execution of the company’s annual user conference (stretch assignment)
  • Work closely with the Event Manager to better understand her role and expertise (mentorship)
  • Complete “Event Planning 101” and earn a certification (online training/certification)

While these steps may be detailed enough for some individuals, it never hurts to tie specific KPIs to action plans to help assess progress and evaluate success. Our employee might decide to use feedback from the event planning team post-conference to assess her contributions to the event. She could also set up a recurring 1-on-1 with the Event Manager and track meeting occurrences to measure the effectiveness of her mentorship. Her last action is more cut and dry – if she completes the class and earns her certification, this can be regarded as a success.

5. Time frame

You’ll also need to define the timeline the employee has to execute this action plan. Is it a week? Month? Quarter? Year? Be sure to document how long the employee has to complete the action plan, so you can hold them accountable and help track progress along the way. Managers and employees should meet regularly throughout the time frame to share feedback, discuss roadblocks, and touch base on how things are going.

Lastly, leave space for your results. After the specified time frame elapses, complete this section with the employee as a way to reflect on performance and assess success.

Inspire and motivate your employees to grow

Make it easy for your people to define clear growth plans that balance business needs with their personal aspirations. By building individual development plans into your wider strategy, you can inspire and motivate your people to develop and grow with an actionable path to reaching their goals.

Illustration of a yellow graph with a line trending up and a floating hand pointing to a part of it

Give employees ownership over their development

What’s next.

Text reading "Cricket Australia" on a pink background

How Cricket Australia is winning the culture game

Text reading "Cricket Australia" on a pink background

The 2024 people analytics and AI landscape

The 2024 people analytics and AI landscape

Culture Amp and Nasdaq: A people analytics transformation

Nasdaq customer spotlight

Build a world-class employee experience today

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.

Your browser is out of date. Our website is built to provide a faster, more engaging experience. Your browser may not support all of our features. Please update to the latest version of Microsoft Edge or contact your network administrator.

why individual development plan is important

Why Do You Need An Individual Development Plan?

Sana’s been working as an executive assistant for five years now. After a few bumpy months, she’s been feeling burned…

Individual Development Plans For Employees

Sana’s been working as an executive assistant for five years now. After a few bumpy months, she’s been feeling burned out. She wants to improve her prospects by working on her communication skills. Sana sometimes struggles when writing emails and letters. She also wants to develop her presentation design skills to take her career to the next level.

Her manager suggests she work on a plan for personal development, also known as an individual development plan.

An individual development plan or IDP is a template designed for personal growth. It’s a document that helps improve employee performance, skills and knowledge. Individual development plans for employees focus on personal improvement. They can include gaining skills to progress at work. They can also improve personal skills such as communication, leadership, negotiating, self-confidence, time management and decision making. An individual development plan will help improve upon an employee’s overall performance by helping them work on their weaknesses. It provides a framework for them to practice skills they need to become an expert.

Let’s take a closer look.

Examples Of An Individual Development Plan

Why individual development plans for employees make sense, importance of individual development plan for managers, components of a personal development plan, determining goals for an individual development plan.

The first step for Sana to create her plan for personal development is introspecting on her goals. This is what she puts down:

My goal is to develop my written communication skills by improving my ability to write emails and letters, as well as by learning how to write reports more effectively. I also want to improve my presentation skills to communicate certain messages effectively and efficiently. I am committed to this action plan and this will give me the chance to identify where I may need guidance and help.

After creating this vision statement privately, Sara creates an action plan upon discussion with her manager:

I can take steps to improve in these areas through training courses and mindful practice. I will take a balanced approach to this plan to develop at a sustainable rate that prioritizes my family time and health as well.

With this clear path for progress, Sara is confident she’ll succeed.

Careers can sometimes go off track. The pace of change can be difficult to keep up with and employees can come up short in certain areas. Without a personal development plan for employees , they may flounder. Here are some key ways in which crafting one can help:

1. It Prompts Learning

An IDP is more than just a workbook. It’s a guide to help employees achieve their professional goals. It can be used to improve personal skills, such as communication, leadership, negotiation, time management and decision-making. By creating a safe space for introspection, the plan allows employees to think through where they are and where they’d like to be. If they have a specific career goal, an IDP will help them reach it.

2. It Helps Take Stock

Learning new lessons through experience is crucial in order to progress in our careers. A personal development plan for employees is an excellent tool for tracking this. Reviewing past personal development plans is a great way to ensure that learning and growth goals are being met in a timely manner.

3. It Turns Weaknesses Into Strengths

A plan for personal development is a systematic process that helps you work on your weaknesses so they become strengths. This plan will allow employees to develop new skills while also helping improve their technical knowledge and practical abilities. We can use the IDP as a tool to help improve and grow. It’s a method for providing and receiving constructive feedback.

When made properly, personal development plans can help motivate team members. It highlights how far they’ve come and how far they’d like to go.

Managers face several challenges in the workplace. Motivating the team sometimes can be one of them. In a rapidly changing environment, it’s difficult to motivate employees to improve their skills and knowledge. Particularly in a high-stress environment. Employees avoid developing their skills, as it takes time away from them to perform their primary function. By using a plan for personal development , managers allow employees time and space to develop.

An IDP can be a solo exercise, or an employee can conduct it with a manager’s participation. In either case, an IDP comprises the following components:

Personal development statement:

Goals and objectives:, action plan:, self-assessment:, manager feedback:.

A vaguely written plan is a recipe for stagnation and failure. The document need not be extensive, but it needs to be incisive. The accuracy with which goals are identified and the roadmap charted will decide the impact of the exercise.

An IDP works on the strength of the goals defined. The more realistic and measurable they are, the more is to be gained. It’ll enable both employee and manager to keep track of progress and ensure that it’s in line with expectations.

Setting time frames for goals is important, as it provides a timeline for completing tasks or objectives. The actual time frame varies from person to person. It’ll depend on such factors as the complexity of the goals, the level of expertise that’s required to achieve them and the level of support that is provided. An individual development plan is a useful way for managers to help employees achieve success. It helps employees understand what they’re expected to do to improve their performance.

Let’s look at another example of a personal development plan.

Rafiq has achieved several objectives during his career so far and wants to continue on his trajectory. He wants to take action to improve in leadership, decision making and communication skills.

Rafiq’s goal: I want to continue developing my skills by learning new ways of thinking and problem-solving in order to develop my strengths. I also want to improve other areas of communication, teamwork and decision making. This will enable me to develop my leadership potential, which I believe is a strength of mine.

Rafiq’s action plan: I will identify the skills that need improving and ask for feedback from my manager on how I can improve upon these areas of operation. This will give me the chance to identify where I may need guidance and assistance. I will commit myself to this action plan as we have agreed that my manager can play an active role in helping me achieve these improvements.

To sum up, an IDP provides a way for employees to understand the skills that are necessary for their career progression. It helps them understand where they need development in order to achieve success. They can use an IDP to communicate development needs between an employee and their employer. Further, it can help organizations understand what their employees are looking for and what their goals are so they can support them more efficiently.

It’s important that the IDP is monitored by a manager and any progress noted. This gives a chance for adjustments to be made if the plan isn’t working out as expected. We can also use an IDP as a tool that helps in assessments, interviews for a promotion or a new job to explain what their personal and professional growth trajectory has been.

Hand holding employees through their own growth journey isn’t a simple task. It’s something that can be learned with experience. What can also help is a solid foundation in certain managerial skills. That’s the kind of usable input learners receive in Harappa’s First Time Manager Program . It’s ideal for employees with a few years of experience transitioning into managerial roles for the first time. It concentrates on the Thrive Skills needed to get the job done with excellence. Giving constructive feedback, mentoring and coaching others, defining roles and expectations are a few of the focus areas that’ll help them undertake a task as important as a plan for personal development . Being a team player and leader are skills that can be learned and this program is the place to start.

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Personal Development , Career Development , How To Develop Personality and What Is Mentoring that will help organizations tap into employee potential.


This is premium content for Ivy Exec members. Already a member? Log in.

Read on by signing up for a free Ivy Exec membership! You'll enjoy curated premium content, like this, plus access to our job board, special promotions, and more.

Tips How To Create And Implement Your Individual Development Plan

Tips How To Create And Implement Your Individual Development Plan

Kelly Vo

Get Paid to Share Your Expertise

Help shape the future of business through market research studies.

Updated June, 2021

To keep up in today’s fast-paced corporate world, you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses and have a plan for moving forward.

Without this, you’ll remain stagnant because career advancement requires a well-developed understanding of your professional needs and aspirations .

That’s where an Individual Development Plan comes in.

Useful for both young career professionals as well as seasoned managers and executives, an Individual Development Plan gives you the ability to objectively look at your current career path and plan out your future. This isn’t just fluff, it’s a concrete action plan with individual steps you can take to reach the level of professional development that you desire.

What is an Individual Development Plan?

An Individual Development Plan is a simple document that helps you identify and outline your knowledge, skills, and abilities while also providing you with a well thought out path for professional development.

Think of it as an annual review of your existing talents that you can then use to prepare for your future. When well-written, an Individual Development Plan can help you improve your performance, sharpen your professional competencies, and strengthen your weaknesses. Created to help you reach both your short- and long-term career goals, it is an organized approach to get what you want.

A successful plan can be found at the intersection of three key elements: organizational needs, passion, and competence.

individual development plan

How to Create an Individual Development Plan

Creating your Individual Development Plan is not something you should do alone.

In fact, it’s best to complete at the same time as your annual performance management review with the help of your manager . The goal is to take an honest evaluation of your work, which is best done with an objective viewpoint.

At its core, your plan should be a simple one- to two-page document that sums up your current career and your career goals. The exact outline can be different for everyone, but each plan should contain a few key elements:

Write an Individual Development Plan to Advance Your Career

To ensure that each objective and strategy is obtainable and realistic, you should also include the expected timing for completion as well as the cost of each activity, which could be tangible (cost of a seminar, cost of travel, etc.) or intangible (time spent, opportunity cost of choosing this activity over another, etc.).

This will be especially useful for helping you establish a plan for implementing your IDP. You’ll also want to consider changes in technology, new assignments, future staffing needs, service changes, and more. All of these can contribute to establishing your plan.

There are four steps you’ll need to take to create a well thought out Individual Development Plan.

1. Identify your professional goals.

The first step to creating an IDP is to figure out your short- and long-term professional goals .

To do this, you need to determine what motivates and energizes you at work, and what kind of opportunities you’re most excited about. Your passion, what excites you, will ultimately be what will carry you further into your career because you’ll put more effort into what you’re doing and push further. Your goals should include plans for the future at your current company and in your current position as well as outside of that.

You’ll want to be able to answer such questions as:

  • What opportunities exist within your current role that interest you?
  • Where do you see yourself in six months, one year, three years?
  • What do you want to learn/prepare for in the future?

What makes you excited and motivated at work?

2. Get to know yourself.

An Individual Development Plan is only as valuable as it is honest.

If you don’t know who you are as a leader, manager, and employee, you can’t actively plan for your future. It’s vital that you be able to put your critical skills and development needs down on paper. This takes an impartial knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses , more so than what you prepare for an interview or resume.

If you can, sit down with a manager or mentor to talk about your current skills, knowledge, and attributes as well as those functional areas where you need the most improvement. A good way to go about getting to know yourself is to ask “why.” For example, if you feel that you are a good/bad team leader, the “why” is what you’ll want to list on your IDP.

Also read:  How a Career Audit Can Prepare You For Your Next Job Move

3. plan your objectives & action steps..

Most brainstorming sessions stop at step two and never move onto the action step, but this is one of the most valuable elements of the Individual Development Plan.

Your plan takes big picture items and distills them down to simple, easy-to-follow steps for professional development. This section is all about defining statements of what you need to do to reach your goals—as outlined in step one. Now, it’s time to ask the questions: “What do I need to do to achieve my goals?” and “What can I do to improve my weaknesses?”

For example, if one of your goals is to move up to the next management/executive-level position in your company, this is your chance to outline how you’ll get there. In that case, one of your objectives might be to talk to your boss about a challenging assignment that will allow you to develop and demonstrate your core competencies. Or, your objective might be to lead a small team project and your action step might be to present a new client project to your boss. Whatever it takes to make your goal obtainable.

4. Get specific.

The key to a successful document is to be as specific as possible. Don’t just write, “I want to be a better team leader” and leave it at that. Go into detail about your leadership development plan including:

  • Setting up monthly one-hour phone calls with your team,
  • Scheduling regular performance reviews,
  • Attending a leadership development course

You also want to get specific when it comes to how you’ll carry out your Individual Development Plan.

As much as possible, list dates, timelines, costs, and specific requirements to achieve your plan. The more you know about when things will happen and what it will cost—whether it’s just time or the price of a course—the more likely you’ll be to carry out your plan.

Implementing Your Individual Development Plan

The final step is acting on your plan.

Once you have a completed IDP ( Yale offers a few samples on their website ), you need to implement it.

To do this, make sure you keep your plan in front of you at all times and cross off items as you accomplish them. This will help you keep track of your progress. Hold to your scheduled timelines and make adjustments as necessary.

And don’t be afraid to share your IDP with your manager. It’s their role to help you secure the resources and opportunities you need for career advancement.

Need help crafting your Individual Development Plan? Meet with an Ivy Exec Career Coach !

Kelly Vo is a full-time freelance writer specializing in digital marketing, personal development, and content creation. A social media and brand development expert, you can find Kelly at http://kevowriting.com/ where she helps businesses and executives develop their authentic voice.

Similar Articles

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. Cookie Policy

Read more

How it works

Transform your enterprise with the scalable mindsets, skills, & behavior change that drive performance.

Explore how BetterUp connects to your core business systems.

We pair AI with the latest in human-centered coaching to drive powerful, lasting learning and behavior change.

Build leaders that accelerate team performance and engagement.

Unlock performance potential at scale with AI-powered curated growth journeys.

Build resilience, well-being and agility to drive performance across your entire enterprise.

Transform your business, starting with your sales leaders.

Unlock business impact from the top with executive coaching.

Foster a culture of inclusion and belonging.

Accelerate the performance and potential of your agencies and employees.

See how innovative organizations use BetterUp to build a thriving workforce.

Discover how BetterUp measurably impacts key business outcomes for organizations like yours.

A demo is the first step to transforming your business. Meet with us to develop a plan for attaining your goals.

Request a demo

  • What is coaching?

Learn how 1:1 coaching works, who its for, and if it's right for you.

Accelerate your personal and professional growth with the expert guidance of a BetterUp Coach.

Types of Coaching

Navigate career transitions, accelerate your professional growth, and achieve your career goals with expert coaching.

Enhance your communication skills for better personal and professional relationships, with tailored coaching that focuses on your needs.

Find balance, resilience, and well-being in all areas of your life with holistic coaching designed to empower you.

Discover your perfect match : Take our 5-minute assessment and let us pair you with one of our top Coaches tailored just for you.

Find your Coach

Research, expert insights, and resources to develop courageous leaders within your organization.

Best practices, research, and tools to fuel individual and business growth.

View on-demand BetterUp events and learn about upcoming live discussions.

The latest insights and ideas for building a high-performing workplace.

  • BetterUp Briefing

The online magazine that helps you understand tomorrow's workforce trends, today.

Innovative research featured in peer-reviewed journals, press, and more.

Founded in 2022 to deepen the understanding of the intersection of well-being, purpose, and performance

We're on a mission to help everyone live with clarity, purpose, and passion.

Join us and create impactful change.

Read the buzz about BetterUp.

Meet the leadership that's passionate about empowering your workforce.

Find your Coach

For Business

For Individuals

Are you reaching your full potential? A guide to personal development

Find my Coach

Jump to section

What is personal development?

5 areas of personal development, the benefits of personal development, 6 steps to developing a personal development plan, how personalized development can help.

I’m no stranger to feeling stuck. There are days I wake up and just go through the daily motions. I make coffee then sit down at my computer for a day of work. I’ll usually work out, walk the dogs, make dinner. Then, read, watch a show, go to bed. The next day? Wake up and do it all over again. 

Especially at the height of the pandemic, it started to feel like vicious monotony. Our lives seemingly stalled in bumper-to-bumper traffic. It feels like dreams, goals, and ambitions are buried in thick molasses or honey at the back of our brains. And even as we navigate this new normal , that “stuck” feeling might be stuck with us. 

The good news? You’re not alone — and personal development is here to help. 

I embarked on an intentional personal development journey well before I knew what it meant. I knew I wanted to see personal growth — and had reached a point in my life where I needed real change .

At BetterUp, personal development comes to life in what we call an Inner Work® practice . Inner Work® is deep work, a practice that isn’t always visible to the outside eye. But with the right personal development toolkit, you can build a lifelong practice of Inner Work® . 

My own personal growth journey has seen its series of ups and downs, failures and successes. Any personal development journey is a lifelong commitment, not a sprint or achievable task. It will weather bumps and roadblocks but it can also thrive in other areas of your life. 

If you’re looking for ways to up your personal development game, we’re here to help. 

It’s certainly not as easy as it sounds. Every person is unique. So, it only makes sense that personal development will look different for everyone. But what does it actually mean? 

Personal development is looking inward and focusing on ways to better yourself. Personal development increases your self-awareness, your self-esteem, increases your skills, and fulfills your aspirations.  

At BetterUp, we’re big believers in the practice of Inner Work®. In many ways, personal development is a form of Inner Work® . It is the act of looking inward to achieve a purpose or result, especially in the pursuit of clarity, purpose, and passion in life. 

Personal development is much larger than just career development or self-development. It encompasses all aspects of your life where you’d like to see personal growth — and it doesn’t discriminate on where it shows up for you. 

When it comes to personal development, it’s hard to not reference Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. According to Maslow, your basic needs need to be fulfilled in order to reach your fullest potential. In other words. To reach self-actualization means we’re reaching the highest levels of self-awareness , self-confidence , personal growth, and self-realization. 

Much like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we see five different areas of personal development. Different personal development goals can fall into different categories. 


Exercising your brain and staying mentally fit is critical to personal development. At BetterUp, this comes to life in a few ways: coaching, learning opportunities , and career growth. For example, right now, I’m taking a creative writing course to help keep my mental creative muscles going strong. (And BetterUp foots the bill as part of our learning stipend.) 

Mental development can be anything from workshops, training sessions , or even just rest. Rest is just as (if not more) important than mental exercise. And as your mental fitness improves , so does your resiliency, innovation, and self-awareness. 


Social connections and relationships are also a must-have for any personal development. After all, self-improvement is not a solitary pursuit. Humans are social creatures — we need that connection to learn and grow. And from social connections, we gain important skills. Like communication skills , problem-solving, relationship-building, and the ability to receive (and give) feedback. We also learn from those around us and their experiences. 


Personal growth and development — whether you’re religious or not — can come through in spirituality. It’s important to recognize that religion and spirituality are not synonymous. In fact, far from it. 

Spirituality means you’re investing in a deeper understanding of your own self in the world around you. It helps you get to know yourself and uncover your values. And in the context of Inner Work®, the spiritual personal development tool can bring greater awareness to self and change. 



Emotional personal development often goes hand-in-hand with emotional intelligence . At its simplest, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand feelings. Beyond feelings, it’s understanding how those feelings shape our thoughts and actions. 

Any number of experiences lends itself to emotional personal development. And those experiences can help you in your pursuit of self-improvement. Take your own Inner Work® journey so far. What experiences have shaped you into who you are today? When you reflect on your journey, what have you learned? 

If you’re looking back at your journey and identifying the growth, it’s likely you’ve fostered a sense of emotional development along the way. This requires emotional intelligence to understand what role your feelings and thoughts played. 


A healthy body nourishes a healthy mind. There’s an intrinsic link between your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

This aspect of personal development is focused on physical health — like nutrition, sleep, exercise, and movement. When your physical self is nourished, it’s likely your mind is also reaping those benefits. Consider ways you can build this area of personal development and take note of how your body and your mind feel. 

There are plenty of benefits to personal development. Personal growth isn’t easy but the benefits will make the journey worthwhile. 

My friend at Google has worked with a BetterUp coach for the last year. In her own personal development journey, she's shared why working with a coach has transformed her personal growth journey. 

"My experience with BetterUp has transcended the professional workplace. My coach knows me on a personal level, which allows for her to help me set boundaries, manage expectations, and receive feedback. Ultimately, it's helped me reach my biggest goal of having a work-life balance."   A Google employee, BetterUp Member 
  • Increased self-awareness and self-esteem. Personal growth requires looking inward at your own thoughts, feelings, habits, and reactions. It requires attentiveness — and awareness — to who you are as a person in a present state. But it also challenges you to look to the future to where you want to go. By investing in yourself, you’re increasing your self-awareness and by default, self-esteem . 
  • Increased mental fitness. Becoming mentally fit requires work. And many aspects of personal development aid in building strong mental fitness. With increased mental fitness, you’ll see a ripple effect of positive benefits. We’ve gathered data around the impact of mental fitness . People with strong mental fitness are more productive, are less likely to experience mental illness, and are more creative and innovative. 
  • Greater resilience. With personal development, you gain greater resilience . This is another positive symptom of strong mental fitness, too. Investing in your personal growth means investing in your ability to bounce back after rough patches. 
  • More knowledge and learned skills. Oftentimes, personal development comes with more knowledge and learned skills. This can come to life in different ways. For example, you may take courses in digital marketing that help you gain the skills you need to further your career development. Or, you may sign up for art or pottery classes, which help you gain skills in entirely different areas of your life. 
  • Improved personal and professional relationships. Another personal development benefit is improved personal and professional relationships . This is an area that flourishes when you invest in your personal growth, especially in emotional and social aspects. 


11 personal development skills to work on

If you’re not sure where to start, consider working with a coach . Personalized coaching can help serve as your guide while you’re building your roadmap to self-actualization. 

Your coach will work one-on-one with you to help identify key skills to work on catered to your own experience. You can start by taking the Whole Person Assessment  to help assess where your strengths and areas of opportunity lie. 

We’ve identified some common areas of self-improvement and personal development you may consider investing in: 

  • Communication and interpersonal skills 
  • Problem-solving 
  • Cognitive agility and adaptability 
  • Self-compassion, self-care , and self-reflection 
  • Conflict and conflict resolution  
  • Navigating change and uncertainty 
  • Future-mindedness  
  • Organizational skills 
  • Growth mindset 
  • Teamwork and collaboration  
  • Self-awareness 

Like any other goal, it’s important to put together a plan. By assembling your personal development plan with some structure, you’re more likely to achieve your goals. 

1. Identify areas where you’d like to improve 

This first step will likely require some Inner Work®. Take a minute to reflect on where you are right now. What are your strengths? In what areas do you want to focus? What growth and development do you want to see in yourself? 

If you’ve taken the Whole Person Assessment, this can help as a useful tool. Once you’ve reflected on your personal goals , identify the areas where you’d like to improve . 

2. Work with a coach or mentor to assemble a plan 

Even if it's your own personal development plan, you don’t have to do it alone. Lean on support systems — like life coaches or mentors — to help frame a plan. With the right structure in place (and feedback along the way), you’ll be better equipped to put the plan into action. 

3. Structure your personal development goals  

Stick to a routine — and build consistency. Start to examine your day-to-day and try to find ways to either build habits or stack new habits onto existing ones. 

In this last year, I wanted to build strength training into my fitness routine. The kicker? I never use weights. I decided to put a yoga mat with weights next to my running shoes. Every time I go for a run, I have to think about those weights sitting next to my shoes. It helps to remind myself to do a quick 5-minute exercise with some dumbbells.  


4. Find an accountability buddy 

Sometimes, having someone holding you accountable makes all the difference. If you and a friend are both setting intentions and goals, consider ways you can support one another. 

Every new hire at BetterUp gets a stack of great books during the onboarding process. My teammate reached out today to see if we could create an accountability plan . We’re each holding each other to 100 pages of reading a week. 

5. Be honest and aware of your progress 

Your personal development plan requires integrity. Be honest with yourself about your growth and progress. This also requires a level of self-awareness. You can also gather feedback from friends, family, and colleagues to help gather insight on how you’re progressing in your goals, too. 

6. Factor personal development into your mental fitness plan 

How does personal development factor into your mental fitness plan? Consider ways you can work with your coach on building aspects of personal development into your overall mental fitness. 

Personal development is just that: it’s personal. 

Every human is different. If our society cracked the nut on personal development, every self-help book would help everyone. Or every learning process would benefit every student. 

But we know from our life experiences that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution to anything when it comes to human nature. 

It’s important to lean on personalized support like coaching to help craft a catered plan that works for you. You won’t have the same needs, strengths, opportunities, and skills as your neighbor. So why would your personal development plan be the same? 

Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. By doing so, you'll be on the path to reaching your full potential .

While self-actualization and Inner Work® is a lifelong process, your personal development goals shouldn't be daunting. Start small — like building a new skill or even investing in work-life balance . By doing so, you'll set yourself up for success in all areas of your life.

If you're ready to make a change to improve the quality of your life, consider how personal and professional development coaching can help. With help from BetterUp, you can awaken your full potential .

Unlock your full potential

Explore how personalized coaching can guide you towards achieving your personal and professional goals.

Madeline Miles

Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.

4 ways to improve emotional intelligence within your team

Building resilience part 6: what is self-efficacy, why self-management is key to success and how to improve yours, what is a segmented sleep schedule and how does it work, bringing your whole self to work — should you, when tough isn't enough, build mental strength. here's how, what self-love truly means and ways to cultivate it, emotional labor: how to relate – and recover – in your role, ultra-motivated, but exhausted workers are more common than you think—here’s what to do about it, an entrepreneur's greatest asset is wellness. here are 5 ways to protect yours., the 5 tools to foster a happier, healthier workplace, did covid-19 change us for better or for worse, how to start journaling and ideas for what to write about, why am i so easily overwhelmed causes and useful techniques, conscious parenting: raise your children by parenting yourself, what is emotional well-being 8 ways to improve your mental health, take your mind to the gym: what it really means to be mentally fit, developing emotional intelligence skills for lasting success, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..

3100 E 5th Street, Suite 350 Austin, TX 78702

  • Platform Overview
  • Integrations
  • Powered by AI
  • BetterUp Lead™
  • BetterUp Manage™
  • BetterUp Care®
  • Sales Performance
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Case Studies
  • Why BetterUp?
  • About Coaching
  • Find your Coach
  • Career Coaching
  • Communication Coaching
  • Life Coaching
  • News and Press
  • Leadership Team
  • Become a BetterUp Coach
  • BetterUp Labs
  • Center for Purpose & Performance
  • Leadership Training
  • Business Coaching
  • Contact Support
  • Contact Sales
  • Privacy Policy
  • Acceptable Use Policy
  • Trust & Security
  • Cookie Preferences

Jump to content

Publications Inside Your Yale is a frequently updated resource available to the Yale community to find news and updates from departments within Yale Operations.

why individual development plan is important

  • Recognition
  • Directories
  • Campus Services
  • Financial Management
  • Integrity and Ethical Conduct
  • Learn and Grow
  • Manager Toolkit
  • Staff Resources
  • Technology at Yale
  • University Policies, Procedures, Forms, and Guides
  • Office of Research Administration
  • Office of Sponsored Projects
  • Human Research Protection Program
  • Animal Research Support
  • Conflict of Interest Office
  • Export Controls
  • Office of Research Compliance
  • Faculty Research Management Services
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Public Safety

Individual Development Planning

To keep up with the demands of today’s workplace, every employee should have an opportunity to develop professionally or grow in his or her job. Taking time to discuss each individual staff member’s professional needs or aspirations for growth, at least once a year, is the basis of the Individual Development Plan (IDP) process.

An IDP starts with an annual conversation between a manager and a staff member that is transformed into an action plan of realistic steps the employee can take to help him or her build a desired skill, better use existing talents, or prepare for a career goal. IDP is complementary to the annual performance management process and encourages employees to invest in their work and themselves, contributing to greater job satisfaction.

IDP is a process you direct, in partnership with your manager, to enhance your professional growth by:

  • Setting goals for professional development.
  • Identifying ways to learn or improve in important competencies you will need now or in the future to achieve these goals.
  • Identifying your strengths, talents and passions and planning ways to use them on the job.

As a part of your IDP, you will identify the professional goals that matter to you, determine what experiences, skills and behaviors will help you achieve those goals and then create a plan of action to achieve your goals. You will work with your manager to evaluate areas that have the greatest potential to pay off for you, and for the organization, in the short term and longer term. In this way, you and the university can succeed together.

To keep up with the demands of today’s workplace, every employee should have an opportunity to develop professionally or grow in their jobs. Taking time to discuss each individual staff member’s professional needs or aspirations for growth, at least once a year, is the basis of the IDP process. Currently available for Managerial and Professional staff members, an IDP starts with an annual conversation between a manager and a staff member that is transformed into an action plan of realistic steps the employee can take to help them build a desired skill, better use their existing talents, or prepare for a career goal. The IDP process is complements the annual performance management process and encourages employees to invest in their work and themselves, contributing to greater job satisfaction.

Below are guides and tools for more information. For questions, contact your Human Resources Generalist .

  • Guides, Forms, and Tools

Individual development plan examples: How to craft a roadmap to success

' width=

Navigating the intricate landscape of personal and professional growth, an individual development plan template (IDP) emerges as a strategic compass for individuals across various industries.

This comprehensive guide unveils the essence of individual development plan , transcending industries, by delving into their significance, crafting personalized examples, and illuminating their impact.

From hospitality to engineering, this guide offers a roadmap for individuals to chart their unique journeys toward mastery, a leadership position, and fulfillment. With a wealth of examples tailored to different sectors, this guide unlocks the door to transformative growth and success.

What is an individual development plan?

Employees lifting each other

An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a comprehensive document that outlines an individual's professional goals, strengths, areas for improvement, and the strategies they will undertake to achieve career growth and skill enhancement .

It serves as a roadmap for personal and professional development, helping individuals align their aspirations with the organization's goals. IDPs typically include a self-assessment, a list of short-term and long-term goals, action steps, timelines, resources required, and methods for tracking progress.

These plans are often created collaboratively between employees and their managers , ensuring that both parties are invested in the individual's growth journey. IDPs are essential tools for fostering continuous learning, skill development, and career advancement within the organization.

Benefits of creating an individual development plan

Happy employees after achieving something big

Creating an individual development plan (IDP) offers a range of benefits that contribute to an individual's personal and professional growth, as well as the overall success of the organization. These benefits include:

  • Clear goals and direction : An IDP helps individuals define clear goals and objectives, providing a roadmap for their career and personal development journey .
  • Focused skill development: IDPs identify areas for improvement, enabling individuals to focus on developing specific skills and competencies.
  • Alignment with organizational goals: When IDPs are aligned with organizational objectives, employees' growth contributes to the company's success , fostering a win-win scenario.
  • Enhanced performance: As individuals develop skills and knowledge, their performance improves, leading to increased productivity and contributions to the organization.
  • Increased motivation: Setting and achieving goals outlined in an IDP boosts individuals' motivation, job satisfaction, and overall engagement .
  • Support for learning: IDPs encourage continuous learning and self-directed development, empowering individuals to seek out relevant training and education .
  • Effective career planning: IDPs provide a structured approach to career advancement, helping employees envision their desired career trajectory and plan accordingly.
  • Structured feedback: Regularly reviewing and updating IDPs facilitates ongoing conversations between employees and managers, fostering open communication .
  • Talent retention: Organizations that invest in employees' growth through IDPs are more likely to retain top talent , reducing turnover rates.
  • Succession planning: IDPs identify potential future leaders , aiding succession planning by grooming employees for higher responsibilities.
  • Personal fulfillment: Accomplishing goals outlined in an IDP goals contribute to personal fulfillment, as individuals see tangible progress in their development.
  • Customized development: IDPs are tailored to each individual's strengths, aspirations, and learning styles, promoting personalized growth strategies.
  • Organizational agility: Employees with diverse skills acquired through IDPs contribute to an agile organization prepared for dynamic challenges .
  • Better resource allocation: By understanding employees' development needs through IDPs, organizations can allocate resources more effectively to areas where they will have the most impact.
  • Enhanced team collaboration: As individuals develop a broader skill set and a deeper understanding of their roles, team collaboration and efficiency are improved.
  • Employee empowerment: IDPs empower employees to take charge of their own development, fostering a sense of ownership and accountability for their growth.
  • Improved work-life balance: IDPs can help individuals set realistic and balanced goals, leading to better management of work and personal life commitments .

Individual development plans offer a structured and strategic approach to personal and professional growth. They empower individuals to take ownership of their development while benefiting the organization by fostering a skilled, motivated, and engaged workforce .

What are the 5 areas of a personal development plan?

Employees are listening to their leader's plan

A comprehensive personal development plan encompasses various areas that contribute to an individual's holistic growth. While the specific areas may vary based on individual goals and circumstances, the following five key areas are commonly addressed in a personal development plan:

Professional skills

This area focuses on enhancing job-specific skills and competencies required for current and future roles. It includes technical expertise, industry knowledge, and certifications. These skills form the foundation on which your career growth stands, ensuring you remain not just relevant but indispensable in your field.

Personal skills

Personal skills encompass soft skills like communication , time management, problem-solving, and adaptability, which are crucial for effective interpersonal interactions and career success. These skills are the adhesive that holds your career together, fostering meaningful connections and paving the way for lasting success.

Leadership and management skills

Developing leadership qualities , such as decision-making, team management, and strategic thinking, prepares individuals for leadership roles and fosters their ability to guide others. Strategic thinking elevates your ability to see the bigger picture and plan for the long term. These skills not only prepare you for leadership roles but also shape you into a mentor and guide for your peers, propelling your career to new heights.

Personal well-being

This area emphasizes physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It includes practices like exercise, stress management, mindfulness, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance . Well-being isn't just a checkbox on your development plan; it's the fuel that keeps your career engine running smoothly, enabling you to thrive in all aspects of life.

Career development

This aspect involves setting clear career goals, identifying growth opportunities, networking , and planning steps to advance in one's chosen career path. This aspect of your personal development plan is your roadmap to success, ensuring you not only reach your desired career destination but also excel beyond your own expectations.

These areas collectively ensure a balanced approach to personal development, nurturing a well-rounded individual capable of excelling both professionally and personally.

What are the 6 components of personal development plan?

A leader is planning development plan for employees

A well-structured personal development plan (PDP) is like a roadmap to self-improvement and success. To craft an effective PDP, you need to consider six key components:

  • Clear goals: Start by defining your objectives. What do you want to achieve personally and professionally? Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Clarity here is crucial; it's your destination on the map.
  • Self-assessment: Take a good, honest look at yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What skills or knowledge do you lack? Self-awareness is the compass that helps you navigate your development journey.
  • Actionable plans: Once you know your goals and where you stand, outline the steps you need to take. Break down your goals into smaller, manageable tasks. These are the roads you'll travel to reach your destination.
  • Resources: Identify the resources you'll need. This could include books, courses, workshops, mentors, or online tools. Resources are like the fuel that powers your journey; make sure you have enough to reach your goals.
  • Timelines: Assign realistic timelines to your goals and action steps. A timeline acts as your schedule, ensuring you're on track and not wandering aimlessly.
  • Monitoring and evaluation: Regularly review your progress. Are you moving in the right direction? Are you achieving your milestones? Adjust your plan as needed; it's like recalculating your route when you encounter roadblocks.

Individual development plan examples for managers

Managers are working together to attain the next goal

Individual development plans for managers are essential tools for nurturing leadership potential and ensuring that they continue to excel in their roles. Here are some tailored examples to guide managers on their development journey:

Enhancing leadership skills

A key goal for managers is to strengthen their leadership abilities. This might involve attending leadership workshops, seeking executive coaching, or participating in leadership development programs. The aim is to become an inspirational and effective leader who can guide and motivate their teams to success.

Strategic thinking

For managers responsible for decision-making and long-term planning, developing strategic thinking skills is paramount. They can achieve this by engaging in strategic planning sessions, collaborating with senior leadership , and studying industry trends to make informed decisions that drive the organization forward.

Team building and management

Fostering a high-performing team is a critical aspect of a manager's role. Managers can work on their team-building skills by attending team-building workshops, learning about effective communication, and studying team dynamics to create a cohesive and productive workforce.

Conflict resolution

Handling conflicts within a team is another important managerial skill. Managers can focus on conflict resolution through conflict management training, mediating disputes, and learning techniques to foster healthy workplace relationships.

Time management

Managers often juggle numerous responsibilities. Improving time management skills can help them become more efficient and effective. This can involve time management courses, using productivity tools, and setting clear priorities to meet deadlines and achieve goals.

Mentoring and coaching

Managers can develop their mentoring and coaching abilities by actively mentoring junior staff, providing constructive feedback, and staying updated on coaching techniques. This helps them nurture the growth of their team members.

Stakeholder engagement

Building strong relationships with stakeholders, both internal and external, is vital. Managers can enhance their stakeholder engagement skills by networking, attending industry conferences, and developing strategies for effective stakeholder communication.

Emotional intelligence

Developing emotional intelligence is crucial for managers to effectively lead their teams. This includes understanding and managing their own emotions, as well as empathizing with their team members. Managers can enhance this skill through emotional intelligence workshops, reading relevant literature, and practicing mindfulness techniques .

Innovation and creativity

Encouraging innovation and creativity within the team can lead to significant improvements and competitive advantages. Managers can foster these skills by participating in innovation workshops, learning about creative problem-solving techniques , and creating an environment that supports new ideas and experimentation.

Individual development plan examples for employees

Employees are working together effectively

Here are some practical examples to inspire and guide employees on their development journey:

Technical skill enhancement

Employees can focus on improving their technical skills relevant to their roles. This might involve attending specialized training sessions, enrolling in online courses, or seeking certification in specific software or tools. By becoming experts in their fields, they contribute more effectively to their teams and the organization.

Leadership aspirations

For employees aspiring to leadership roles, IDPs can include leadership development activities. They can participate in leadership workshops, join cross-functional projects to gain management experience , or take on mentorship roles to build their leadership skills.

Communication and presentation skills

Effective communication is essential in any job. Employees can work on their communication and presentation skills through courses, public speaking opportunities, or even joining a Toastmasters club. Strong communication skills enhance their ability to convey ideas and collaborate with others.

Time management and productivity

Many employees struggle with managing their time efficiently. An IDP can include time management training, using productivity apps, or learning organization techniques. Improved time management leads to increased productivity and reduced stress.

Project management mastery

Employees involved in project-based roles can focus on project management skills. They can attend project management courses, become certified in project management methodologies, and practice project planning and execution.

Cross-functional knowledge

Encouraging employees to broaden their understanding of other departments can be beneficial. This can involve cross-functional training, attending meetings in different departments, or collaborating on projects outside their usual scope.

Networking and relationship-building

Building a professional network is vital for career growth. Employees can set goals to attend industry events, join professional associations, and engage in networking opportunities. Strong professional relationships can open doors to new opportunities.

Work-life balance

Achieving a healthy work-life balance is crucial for employee well-being. IDPs can include actions such as setting boundaries, time management for personal life, and practicing self-care to ensure employees maintain a balance that prevents burnout.

Diversity and inclusion

In today's diverse workplaces, understanding and promoting diversity and inclusion is vital. Employees can seek out diversity training, participate in inclusion initiatives, and actively contribute to a more inclusive work environment.

How do you write an individual development plan for your employees?

Group of 3 employees planning together

Writing an effective individual development plan (IDP) for your employees involves a structured and collaborative approach. Follow these steps to create a well-crafted IDP:

  • Identify development areas: Based on the employee's self-assessment and feedback from managers and peers, pinpoint the specific skills, knowledge, and competencies to be developed.
  • Outline action steps: Break down each goal into actionable steps or tasks that will lead to its achievement. These steps should be specific, tangible, and sequential.
  • Allocate resources: Determine the resources required for development, such as training programs, workshops, courses, mentoring , or job rotations.
  • Create a development plan: Summarize the goals, action steps, resources, and timelines in a structured document. Use a format that's easy to understand and refer back to.
  • Identify support: Specify who will provide support or mentorship during the development process. This could include managers, colleagues, or external mentors.
  • Measure and evaluate: Regularly assess the employee's progress and the impact of the development plan on their performance and growth.
  • Celebrate achievements: Celebrate milestones and achievements to keep the employee motivated and reinforce the value of their efforts.
  • Adaptability: Be open to adjusting the plan based on changing circumstances, new opportunities, or evolving goals.
  • Encourage self-reflection: Encourage employees to reflect on their learning journey, noting what worked well, the challenges faced, and how they've grown.
  • Document growth: Maintain records of completed training, achieved milestones, and new skills acquired, which can be valuable for performance evaluations and career discussions.
  • Continual improvement: Use the feedback from the employee and their experiences to improve the IDP process for future iterations.

Remember, an effective IDP should be flexible, adaptive, and supportive of the employee's growth journey within the organization.

Why implementing an individual plan is both a manager's and HRs responsibility?

Manager and a HR planning together

Implementing an individual development plan (IDP) is a shared responsibility between managers and the HR department due to its comprehensive impact on employee growth and organizational success. Here's why both parties play crucial roles in this process:

Manager's Responsibility:

Direct supervision.

Managers have direct insight into their team members' strengths, weaknesses, and performance. This knowledge helps tailor IDPs to individual needs.

Goal alignment

Managers align IDPs with the organization's goals and the team's objectives, ensuring that employees' development contributes to the team's success.

Guidance and support

Managers provide guidance on setting realistic goals, suggest suitable development opportunities, and offer feedback as employees progress .

They offer constructive feedback to employees , helping them understand areas for improvement and offering insights for skill enhancement.


Managers monitor employees' progress , ensuring that action steps are being followed and milestones are achieved as outlined in the IDP.

Managers recognize and celebrate employees' achievements and growth, motivating them to continue their development journey.

Individualized coaching

Managers take on the role of coaches, providing one-on-one support tailored to each employee's needs. This involves regular check-ins and personalized development plans that consider an employee's unique aspirations and challenges.

Identifying stretch opportunities

Managers actively seek out opportunities for employees to stretch their capabilities and take on challenging assignments. Encouraging employees to step out of their comfort zones fosters growth and resilience.

Skill transfer and knowledge sharing

Managers promote a culture of knowledge sharing within their teams. They encourage employees to share their expertise and mentor each other, creating a collaborative learning environment.

Succession planning

Managers play a pivotal role in succession planning. They identify high-potential employees, groom them for leadership roles , and ensure a smooth transition when vacancies arise.

HR's Responsibility:

Framework creation.

HR establishes a structured framework for creating, tracking, and evaluating IDPs across the organization. This ensures consistency and fairness.

Resource provision

HR identifies and provides access to various development resources, including training programs, workshops, and mentoring opportunities .

Skill assessments

They facilitate skills assessments and competency evaluations that inform the development areas to be included in IDPs.

Development opportunities

HR identifies potential growth opportunities within the organization, allowing employees to explore diverse career paths.

Employee alignment

HR ensures that IDPs align with the company's overall talent management strategy, fostering a cohesive approach to employee growth .

Measurement and reporting

They measure the impact of IDPs on employee performance and the organization's success, offering insights for improvement.

Continuous improvement

HR gathers feedback from both managers and employees to refine the IDP process, ensuring its effectiveness over time.

Legal compliance

Ensuring that IDPs comply with relevant labor laws and regulations is a vital HR responsibility. They stay updated on legal requirements and ensure that IDPs don't inadvertently violate any employment laws.

HR takes a proactive role in promoting diversity and inclusion within IDPs. They work to ensure that development opportunities are equitable and accessible to employees from diverse backgrounds , fostering a more inclusive workplace culture.

Data security

As IDPs often contain sensitive employee information, HR is responsible for maintaining data security. They implement measures to protect employee privacy and data integrity, ensuring that confidential information remains confidential.

Technology integration

HR leverages technology to streamline the IDP process, making it more efficient and user-friendly. They ensure that digital tools for creating, tracking, and reporting on IDPs are integrated seamlessly into the organization's HR systems.

Collaboration between managers and HR is essential for successful IDP implementation. While managers provide personalized guidance and support, HR ensures a structured framework and availability of resources. This joint effort fosters a culture of development, engagement, and continuous improvement , benefiting both employees and the organization as a whole.

How to set goals for your individual development plan?

Employee is running toward company's goal

Setting goals for your individual development plan (IDP) involves a strategic and thoughtful approach. Follow these steps to establish effective and achievable goals:

  • Self-assessment: Reflect on your current skills, strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. Consider feedback from colleagues, managers, and any previous performance evaluations.
  • Define clear objectives: Clearly define what you want to achieve through your IDP. Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound ( SMART ).
  • Prioritize: Determine which skills or areas need immediate attention and which ones can be developed over a longer period. Focus on a manageable number of goals to avoid overwhelm.
  • Quantify measurable goals: Use metrics or criteria to measure progress . For example, if your goal is to improve public speaking, set a target number of presentations to give within a certain timeframe.
  • Research and resources: Identify the resources needed to achieve each goal. This could include workshops, courses, books, mentors, or online resources.
  • Flexibility: Keep your goals flexible. Circumstances change, and you may need to adjust your goals based on new opportunities or challenges.
  • Balance: Ensure a balanced mix of short-term and long-term goals, as well as goals that focus on both professional and personal development.
  • Feedback: Seek input from your manager, colleagues, or mentors when setting goals. They can provide valuable insights and help refine your objectives.
  • Regular review: Regularly review and update your goals. This helps track progress, make adjustments as needed, and stay aligned with your evolving aspirations.
  • Celebrate milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements along the way. Recognizing progress boosts motivation and keeps you engaged in the development process.
  • Leverage SWOT analysis: Conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to gain deeper insights into your personal and professional landscape.
  • Set long-term vision: While focusing on immediate goals, also establish a long-term vision for your personal development. Having a clear destination in mind can guide your short-term objectives and provide a sense of purpose.
  • Incorporate learning styles: Consider your preferred learning style (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) when planning your development.
  • Embrace adaptability: Embrace adaptability as a goal itself. The ability to adapt to new technologies, industries, or job roles is a valuable skill in today's rapidly changing world.
  • Networking and collaboration: Include goals related to expanding your professional network and collaboration skills.

How to implement development plans?

Employer lifting employee up

Implementing professional and personal development plans in the workplace is crucial for fostering employee growth and achieving organizational goals. Here's a practical guide on how to make it happen:

  • Needs assessment: Begin by identifying the specific development needs of your employees. Conduct regular performance reviews, gather feedback, and assess skills gaps. This will form the basis of your individual development planning.
  • Set clear objectives: Once you've development identified the needs, set clear and measurable objectives. Ensure they align with the individual's career goals and the company's strategic objectives. These objectives should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound).
  • Resource allocation: Allocate the necessary resources for development. This includes budgeting for training programs, workshops, mentoring, and access to relevant tools and technologies.
  • Development activities: Encourage employees to engage in development activities. This may involve attending workshops, taking online courses, participating in cross-functional projects, or seeking mentorship from experienced colleagues.
  • Regular feedback: Provide ongoing feedback and support. Regular check-ins with managers or mentors can help employees stay on track and make necessary adjustments to their development plans.
  • Measure progress: Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress. Monitor skill improvements, project outcomes, and the impact of development activities on individual and team performance.
  • Recognition and rewards: Recognize and reward achievements along the way. Celebrate milestones and showcase success stories to motivate others and reinforce the importance of development.

How to craft individual development plan template for employees, managers, & senior leadership?

Managers are planning the next big thing with recent statistics

Crafting individual development plan (IDP) examples for employees, managers, and senior leadership requires a strategic approach that aligns with their unique responsibilities and career trajectories. Here's how to create effective IDP examples for this group:

  • Needs assessment: Start by assessing the specific needs of managers and senior leaders. Consider their current roles, skills, and areas for growth.
  • Alignment with organizational goals: Ensure that the IDP examples align with both the individual's career aspirations and the organization's strategic objectives.
  • Leadership competencies: Focus on leadership competencies such as strategic thinking, decision-making, communication , and team development. Tailor goals to enhance these skills.
  • 360-degree feedback: Gather feedback from colleagues, subordinates, and superiors to identify areas for improvement and strengths to leverage.
  • Long-term vision: Help managers and senior leaders align their IDPs with long-term career visions, considering potential leadership roles and responsibilities.
  • Executive coaching: Offer executive coaching or mentoring to support their development. Include goals related to improving coaching or mentoring skills if applicable.
  • Change management: If their roles involve leading through change, incorporate goals related to change management strategies and techniques.
  • Innovation and strategy: Focus on fostering innovation, creating strategic plans, and identifying opportunities for organizational growth.
  • Cross-functional collaboration: Set goals that encourage collaboration across different departments or functions, enhancing their ability to lead multidisciplinary teams.
  • Performance metrics: Quantify goals where possible. For example, increasing employee engagement scores or achieving specific revenue targets.
  • Crisis management: Develop skills in crisis management and decision-making under pressure, considering their roles in guiding the organization during challenging times.
  • Ethical leadership: Include goals related to promoting ethical conduct, fostering a positive organizational culture , and leading by example.

Remember, IDPs for managers and senior leaders should be forward-thinking, challenging them to expand their skill sets, embrace innovation, and navigate complex leadership scenarios .

Individual development plan examples for various industries

Individual development plan examples for various industries

Explore diverse individual development plan (IDP) examples tailored to various industries. From tech to healthcare, these IDPs illustrate how professionals can enhance skills, achieve goals, and thrive in their specific fields.

Individual development plan examples for engineers

1. Technical skill advancement:

  • Goal: Master [specific technology/tool] within [timeline].
  • Action: Enroll in relevant courses, and apply skills to projects.

2. Leadership readiness:

  • Goal: Develop leadership qualities.
  • Action: Attend leadership workshops and mentor junior engineers.

3. Certification attainment:

  • Goal: Obtain [industry certification].
  • Action: Study, take preparation courses, and schedule exams.

4. Cross-functional exposure:

  • Goal: Gain insight into [related domain].
  • Action: Collaborate , attend cross-functional meetings.

5. Innovation contribution:

  • Goal: Propose innovative solutions.
  • Action: Engage in R&D projects, and submit patents.

Individual development plan examples for pharma employees

1. Regulatory compliance expertise:

  • Goal: Master regulations like FDA guidelines within [timeline].
  • Action: Attend regulatory workshops, analyze case studies , and contribute to compliance projects.

2. Clinical trial management:

  • Goal: Develop proficiency in managing clinical trials.
  • Action: Participate in trial coordination, learn data analysis tools, and collaborate with clinical teams.

3. Pharmacovigilance skills:

  • Goal: Enhance adverse event reporting and monitoring capabilities.
  • Action: Attend pharmacovigilance seminars, analyze real-world data, and contribute to safety assessments.

4. Cross-functional collaboration:

  • Goal: Foster collaboration with R&D, production, and marketing teams.
  • Action: Join cross-functional projects, engage in knowledge-sharing sessions, and attend inter-departmental meetings.

5. GMP and quality assurance:

  • Goal: Become a quality assurance expert aligned with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
  • Action Steps: Attend GMP training, participate in quality audits, and contribute to process improvement initiatives.

Individual development plan examples for finance professionals

1. Financial modeling expertise:

  • Goal: Enhance proficiency in financial modeling for more accurate forecasting.
  • Action: Enroll in advanced Excel courses, practice modeling complex scenarios, and participate in case study workshops.

2. Strategic financial planning:

  • Goal: Develop strategic planning skills to contribute to long-term financial strategies.
  • Action: Attend strategic finance seminars, collaborate with strategy teams, and analyze industry trends for informed decision-making.
  • Goal: Obtain [specific finance-related certification] to elevate professional credentials.
  • Action: Study rigorously, attend certification review sessions, and schedule the exam within [timeline].

4. Risk management proficiency:

  • Goal: Strengthen risk assessment skills to minimize financial vulnerabilities.
  • Action: Attend risk management seminars, analyze historical data for risk patterns, and propose mitigation strategies.

5. Leadership in finance teams:

  • Goal: Cultivate leadership qualities for effective management within the finance department .
  • Action: Engage in leadership workshops, mentor junior team members, and initiate process improvement projects.

Individual development plan examples for supply chain employees

1. Supplier Relationship Management:

  • Goal: Enhance supplier collaboration and negotiation skills.
  • Action: Attend supplier management workshops , engage in cross-functional collaboration, and lead vendor evaluation projects.

2. Process Optimization:

  • Goal: Streamline supply chain processes for efficiency.
  • Action: Enroll in process improvement courses, map out current processes, and implement Lean principles.

3. Inventory Management Proficiency:

  • Goal: Develop expertise in optimizing inventory levels.
  • Action: Take advanced inventory management courses, analyze historical data, and implement demand forecasting techniques.

4. Global Supply Chain Understanding:

  • Goal: Gain insights into global supply chain dynamics.
  • Action: Participate in international trade seminars, collaborate with overseas teams, and understand regional regulations.

5. Supply Chain Analytics:

  • Goal: Improve decision-making through data-driven insights.
  • Action: Learn data analytics tools, work on supply chain data projects, and present findings to management.

Individual development plan examples for hospitality industry employees

1. Customer Service Excellence:

  • Goal: Elevate customer satisfaction by mastering guest interactions and problem-solving.
  • Action: Attend customer service workshops, role-play scenarios, and seek feedback from supervisors.

2. Multilingual Proficiency:

  • Goal: Enhance guest experience by learning [specific language] to communicate with a diverse clientele.
  • Action: Enroll in language classes, practice with colleagues, and interact with guests in the target language.

3. Upselling Skills:

  • Goal: Boost revenue by becoming proficient in upselling techniques and personalized recommendations.
  • Action: Attend upselling training, create upsell strategies, and track successful upsell transactions.

4. Leadership Readiness:

  • Goal: Prepare for supervisory roles by developing leadership and team management skills.
  • Action: Participate in leadership courses, mentor junior staff, and seek guidance from experienced managers .

5. Crisis Management:

  • Goal: Enhance preparedness by training for effective crisis response and guest safety protocols.
  • Action: Engage in crisis management drills, study emergency procedures, and participate in safety audits.

Individual development plan examples for healthcare professionals

1. Clinical skill enhancement:

  • Goal: Improve proficiency in [specific clinical procedure or technology].
  • Action: Attend relevant workshops, engage in hands-on practice , and seek mentorship from experienced colleagues.

2. Patient communication:

  • Goal: Enhance patient communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Action: Participate in communication skills training, role-play scenarios with peers, and gather feedback from patients.
  • Goal: Obtain [specific healthcare certification].
  • Action: Enroll in preparatory courses, study diligently, and schedule the certification exam within [timeline].

4. Research and evidence-based practice:

  • Goal: Contribute to and apply evidence-based research in clinical practice.
  • Action: Attend research seminars, participate in clinical studies, and review current literature.

5. Leadership development:

  • Goal: Develop leadership capabilities for potential managerial roles.
  • Action: Engage in leadership training , take on supervisory responsibilities, and seek mentorship from senior leaders.

Individual development plan examples for IT professionals

1. Programming skill advancement:

  • Goal: Master [specific programming language or framework].
  • Action: Take online courses, work on relevant projects, and participate in coding challenges.

2. Cybersecurity expertise:

  • Goal: Enhance skills in cybersecurity to protect organizational data.
  • Action: Enroll in cybersecurity courses, participate in threat simulations, and stay updated on security trends.

3. Cloud computing proficiency:

  • Goal: Gain expertise in cloud computing platforms like AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud.
  • Action: Attend cloud computing workshops, obtain certifications, and work on cloud-based projects.

4. Project management:

  • Goal: Develop project management skills to lead IT projects effectively.
  • Action: Take project management courses, earn a PMP certification, and manage small projects to gain experience.

5. Innovation and technology integration:

  • Goal: Foster innovation and integrate new technologies into existing systems.
  • Action: Participate in innovation workshops, stay current with emerging technologies, and pilot new solutions within the organization.

Role of an employee development program in implementing an individual development plan for your employees

A group of four employees are having a meeting

An employee development program plays a pivotal role in successfully implementing individual development plans (IDPs). It provides a structured framework for employees to access resources, training, and opportunities aligned with their IDP goals. These programs offer tailored workshops, courses, and mentorship, fostering skill enhancement and career growth.

By aligning IDPs with the organization's development initiatives, employees receive the necessary support, ensuring their aspirations align with business objectives. Employee development programs create a culture of continuous learning, boosting engagement, job satisfaction, and overall organizational success.

In essence, an Individual Development Plan (IDP) serves as a personalized roadmap for growth, regardless of industry. With strategic goal-setting, tailored actions, and ongoing reflection, individuals can harness their potential, cultivating skills that enrich both their careers and their industries at large.

What are some individual development plan examples for managers?

Managers often focus on leadership development, strategic thinking, and team management. For example, a manager's individual development plan may include goals like enhancing leadership skills through workshops, participating in strategic planning sessions, and mentoring junior team members to foster leadership qualities. These plans aim to prepare managers for broader responsibilities within the organization.

Can you provide individual development plan examples for employees in the workplace?

Certainly! Employees can have diverse development goals. For instance, an employee may aim to improve technical skills by enrolling in relevant courses, enhance communication abilities through public speaking training, or build leadership qualities by joining cross-functional projects. These plans align individual aspirations with organizational objectives, fostering a motivated and skilled workforce.

What are the common components of an individual development plan in a professional setting?

A typical individual development plan includes clear goals, self-assessment, actionable plans, resource identification, timelines, and monitoring and evaluation. These components help individuals define their objectives, assess their current skills, outline steps to achieve their goals, identify the necessary resources, set realistic timelines, and regularly review and adapt their plans.

How do I create a personal development plan for my career?

To create a personal development plan, start by self-reflecting on your strengths, weaknesses, and career aspirations. Set clear, SMART goals that align with your vision. Create actionable plans, identify resources, establish timelines, and regularly review your progress. Adapt your plan as needed to stay on track and achieve your career objectives. Seek guidance and feedback from mentors.

What are some real-life individual development plan samples for career growth?

Real-life individual development plan samples vary based on career goals. For instance, a sample for career or personal growth may include goals like obtaining relevant certifications, attending leadership training, and joining cross-functional projects . Another sample for skill enhancement may involve taking technical courses, seeking mentorship, and participating in industry conferences.

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash is a Product Marketer with 5+ years of experience. He loves story-telling in the simplest way possible and he is an avid reader, movie buff, and likes to travel new places to meet new people.

You might also like

10 key employee life cycle stages and how it can help improve company culture.

Uncover the key stages of the employee life cycle and their impact on company culture. From recruitment to offboarding, learn how each stage presents opportunities to shape a positive and inclusive work environment. Maximize employee experience, boost engagement, and foster a thriving culture.

How to approach employee engagement after layoffs: A complete guide

From understanding the emotional aftermath to leveraging feedback for confident recovery, this guide transforms challenges into opportunities. Let's navigate this crucial phase together, shaping a workplace that thrives on resilience and collaboration.

Book a free, no-obligation product demo call with our experts.

Business Email is a required field*

Too many attempts, please try again later!

We use essential cookies to make Venngage work. By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

Manage Cookies

Cookies and similar technologies collect certain information about how you’re using our website. Some of them are essential, and without them you wouldn’t be able to use Venngage. But others are optional, and you get to choose whether we use them or not.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are always on, as they’re essential for making Venngage work, and making it safe. Without these cookies, services you’ve asked for can’t be provided.

Show cookie providers

  • Google Login

Functionality Cookies

These cookies help us provide enhanced functionality and personalisation, and remember your settings. They may be set by us or by third party providers.

Performance Cookies

These cookies help us analyze how many people are using Venngage, where they come from and how they're using it. If you opt out of these cookies, we can’t get feedback to make Venngage better for you and all our users.

  • Google Analytics

Targeting Cookies

These cookies are set by our advertising partners to track your activity and show you relevant Venngage ads on other sites as you browse the internet.

  • Google Tag Manager
  • Infographics
  • Daily Infographics
  • Popular Templates
  • Accessibility
  • Graphic Design
  • Graphs and Charts
  • Data Visualization
  • Human Resources
  • Beginner Guides

Blog 14 Individual Development Plan Examples & Templates

14 Individual Development Plan Examples & Templates

Written by: Michelle Martin Feb 15, 2023

Individual Development Plans

The terms Individual Development Plan and Employee Development Plan are often used interchangeably, but the outcome is the same: a document outlining a person’s professional and career goals with an action plan to get there.

Does every employee in your organization have an IDP? Or if you’re here to make one, has your manager discussed a plan for your professional development?

If your answer is “no” to either, you can’t afford to ignore individual development plans any longer. Companies that invest in employee development earn, on average, 11% higher profits than those that don’t.

Not to fear: Here’s everything you need to know about creating useful individual development plans plus easy to use professional IDP templates to boost your profits and attract and retain top talent.

Click to jump ahead:

What is an individual development plan?

Why do you need an individual development plan, 14 individual development plan examples and tips, how to make an individual development plan, individual development plan faqs.

An individual development plan (IDP) is a collaborative document between a manager and an employee to define career goals and map out how to learn new skills or improve current ones. It matches an employee’s strengths and interests to key business objectives.

Usually, individual development plans are part of the annual performance review and general  employee development  discussion. But you can make or update one anytime.

You can also create an individual development plan for yourself to pursue career or personal learning goals.

IDPs usually include:

  • Short and long-term career goals the employee wants to achieve.
  • Current skills the employee wants to improve, or new ones to learn.
  • Skills the manager wants the employee to further develop.
  • Specific action steps to achieve the goals (e.g. taking a course, attending a workshop, finding a mentor, etc).

Many different formats work well for individual development plans, from plain text documents to elaborate tables and timelines. Mix and match blocks, tables, and more with this flexible IDP template to customize it to your career goals.

Healthcare Individual Development Plan Template

Individual development plans are beneficial to everyone, including the company. IDPs encourage your employees to voice their career goals and co-create a plan to get there. Even if they end up leaving for another company in the future, you benefit from their new skills until then.

Your employee will likely also be grateful for their growth with you and happily refer others to open roles. Since we’re in one of the  tightest labor markets ever , referrals and word of mouth can mean the difference between filling your open positions or not.

Individual development plans also address a real business need:  56% of businesses  surveyed by Statistics Canada in 2022 said most of their employees weren’t “fully proficient” at their jobs. If your company has over 100 employees, that most certainly applies to you as 93% of large companies responded that way, whereas only 33% of companies with less than four employees did.

IDPs help your employees learn the skills they need to achieve their own goals, but they’re also key to ensuring your business needs are met.

Components of an individual development plan

Remember, an IDP is a flexible tool. As your goals and circumstances change, so should your plan. It’s all about taking ownership of your career development and reaching your full potential!

Here are the key components of an effective IDP:

1. Self-assessment:

  • Strengths:  What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing?
  • Areas for improvement:  Be honest – what skills could you use some work on?
  • Values:  What matters most to you in your career? What kind of impact do you want to make?

2. Goal setting:

  • Short-term:  Set specific, achievable goals for the next few months that align with your overall career aspirations.
  • Long-term:  Think bigger! Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? Set some aspirational goals to keep you motivated.

3. Development activities:

  • Identify activities  – Think training courses, workshops or taking on new challenges – that will help you reach your goals.
  • Create a timeline  that’s realistic considering your time and resources.
  • Figure out what resources you need  – financial support, time off or specific tools.

4. Monitoring and evaluation:

  • Have regular check-ins  with your manager or advisor to discuss your progress.
  • Track your progress  and make adjustments to your plan as needed.
  • Celebrate your successes  and learn from any setbacks.

Individual development plan examples for supervisors

Individual development plans (IDPs) for supervisors serve as roadmaps for team growth, tailoring skill development to specific roles in the team and organizational goals.

These plans aren’t just about meeting company goals; they also help supervisors achieve their career aspirations while supporting the growth of their team members.

Are you (or your employee) a visual person? Just because most individual development plans look like traditional documents doesn’t mean yours has to. Try out this creative and colorful quadrant template to prioritize goals and actions by their importance, due date, or any other criteria that make sense to you.

Healthcare Performance Training Development Venn Diagram Template

This template is structured as a corrective action plan but could also work well for an IDP. As a reminder, IDPs aren’t a disciplinary tool or for underperforming employees. Everyone should have an individual development plan focusing on their strengths, while also acknowledging weaknesses that may impact the achievement of career goals.

Employee Corrective Action Plan Template

Give this worksheet-style template to your employee before your IDP meeting to find out their goals and how they view their progress so far. By getting their ideas on paper first, you’ll make better use of meeting time to discuss actions and solutions.

Healthcare Individual Development Plan Worksheet Template

Another great template for visual folks, this serves well as a progress tracker for the action steps in your IDP. The simple, one-page format is quick to update and makes it easy to see progress toward your goals.

Marketing Skills Training Matrix Roadmap Template

Individual development plan examples for leadership

Imagine a leadership-focused IDP as your personal roadmap for tackling the twists and turns of leadership roles. It’s not just about growing your own leadership skills, but also about making a real impact on the success of the whole organization.

A leadership IDP may include targeted training programs to enhance communication, decision-making, and strategic thinking skills.

A stylish table format is effective for communicating career goals and action steps which are both important parts of an IDP. List the goal category on the left, the action step in the middle and a target due date on the right.

For example, a goal category could be “improving public speaking skills.” An action step could be joining a local Toastmasters group or hosting a Lunch and Learn for the office.

Leadership Readiness Checklist Template

If you’re a manager assessing your team’s leadership skills, this template could be another self-evaluation tool for your employee to fill out prior to your IDP meeting. Or, use it as a progress tracker by listing out the actions and ranking them from “Not Started” to “Complete.”

Leadership Skills Inventory and Self-Assessment Checklist Template

Individual development plan example for career

Think of your Individual Development Plan (IDP) for your career as your personalized roadmap to success.

For instance, your career-focused IDP might include short-term goals like acquiring new skills through workshops or online courses. Long-term goals may revolve around taking on challenging projects to showcase your capabilities and climbing the professional ladder.

An individual development plan is a lot like a product roadmap, except with your career goals instead of new features. This simple timeline template is a good way to work through the order you’ll need to accomplish action items in and set target deadlines.

It’s also useful for visual thinkers to see a simplistic overview of their trajectory on one page. You can detail each goal or step in subsequent pages.

Simple Iconic Career Roadmap Template

Using a 30, 60, and 90 day timeline is an effective way to break down large goals into achievable steps per quarter. This can also work as a one-page quarterly plan — just add an extra column — or a multi-year plan.

30 60 90 Day Plan Template

This template serves as a compact yet detailed action plan that’s perfect for goal tracking in your individual development plan.

Plan Of Action And Milestones Template

Individual development plan examples for managers

Often, an IDP has a big goal in mind, like being the head of a division or something else several steps ahead of you. In order to get there, you need to break it down into smaller goals along the way.

Growing into a C-suite position could mean first managing an important project, then a small team, and then a larger team, and so on. By visually planning the smaller goals along the way, you (or your employee) have realistic expectations of what’s needed to get to the ultimate goal and a focused approach to get there.

Healthcare Individual Development Plan Process Infographic Template

This multi-page template is highly flexible so every page of your IDP will look professional and on-brand. Easily add tables, lists, and more to the content pages as needed to create a detailed and aesthetic development plan.

Microlearning Onboarding Menu Materials Template

While this is set up as an orientation plan, you could easily customize it as an individual development plan.

why individual development plan is important

If you like a quarterly planning approach, this template is helpful to detail the action steps you need to take for the rest of the year.

Colorful Quarterly Product Roadmap

Individual development plan example for government employees

Feeling like your career in a government agency could use a refresh? Individual Development Plans (IDPs) can be a helpful tool for that.

IDPs are a great way to take ownership of your career development, gain valuable skills and contribute even more effectively to your government organization’s mission.

For example, as a government healthcare worker, your IDP might involve specific activities like attending relevant workshops, seeking mentorship from experienced colleagues or even shadowing other professionals in your field.

Here’s what it might look like:

why individual development plan is important

Individual development plan examples for IT professionals

Individual Development Plans (IDPs) can be a valuable tool for IT professionals to navigate the ever-changing tech landscape.

When drafting your IT individual development plan, try to find out beforehand if your company offers internal training programs, tuition reimbursement or professional development opportunities.

You could also consider attending industry conferences, workshops and webinars to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies.

Too much to take in? That’s exactly why you need an IDP – It helps you map out goals and the steps to reach them. Check out this quick development plan template to discuss with your manager or colleague.

why individual development plan is important

Any of the templates above can be your starting point for creating your organization’s IDP template, or choose from all our  business templates . Some templates are available only to our paid subscribers, but all the options above are free for everyone to use.

Starting with a template saves time and ensures your finished IDP looks polished and professional. It’s easy to customize any of these with our free online editor in just a few clicks.

Step 1: Sign up for a free Venngage account

All you need is an email address to  sign up for a free Venngage account .

No free trials, credit card numbers, or any of that. You can edit any of our free templates with your free account… for  free , okay?

Step 2: Choose an individual development plan template to customize

Pick one of the templates mentioned above or browse our full database of  Human Resources templates , including  letters ,  plans ,  presentations , and more.

Venngage Human Resources Templates

Step 3: Edit the template for your IDP

Once you’ve picked a template, the fun part begins: Making it your own. Click  Create  on any template to enter the editor where you can change colors, text, graphics, and more.

I’m using this IDP checklist template as an example:

employee checklist IDP template

I like to match a new template to my brand first as this saves a lot of time if you want to duplicate the page to add more content later.

Our Business and Premium subscriptions offer  My Brand Kit  to store your colors, fonts, and logos for easy template customization anywhere for your entire team. But no worries for our free account holders: Editing is just as easy.

Click on any text area or graphic to edit it. Type new text, or use the top menu to change color, font, size, spacing, and more.

Type new text, or use the top menu to change color, font, size, spacing, and more.

You can replace existing graphics with one of our  3 million+ free stock photos , over 40,000 illustrations and icons, or upload your own.

Explore the left side menu to add a background or a new layout, like a graph or table. You can also click and drag objects around the page to your liking. Use the right side menu to duplicate the current page or add a new blank one to your document.

Upload, add or replace photos, duplicate current page and add a new blank page

Step 4: Share or save your new IDP

Once you’re happy with your new individual development plan template, click on the  Share  icon or  Download  button to save it to your computer (Business or Premium accounts).

So easy, right?

Share or save your new IDP

What are good IDP goals?

There aren’t “good” or “bad” goals as each IDP is as unique as the individual it’s for. However, effective IDP goals have a few things in common, like being:

  • Related to the employee’s career path.
  • Achievable in the specified timeframe. (You can list out big goals but ensure the action steps to start with are reasonable to accomplish, or at least start, within the next year.)
  • Collaboratively planned between manager and employee, with both having input.

If your employee wants to lead their department one day but hasn’t managed anyone before, some good IDP goals to set for the upcoming year could be:

  • Taking a leadership course or program from a nearby or online business school.
  • Leading a big project, including supervising their peers and providing feedback.
  • Finding a leadership mentor within the company and regularly checking in with them.

How can I support my employee’s IDP goals?

This depends what your employee’s goals are, but a few general ideas are to:

  • Offer time to try new roles and responsibilities to learn new skills.
  • Reimburse or partially cover courses, seminars, and other educational tools.
  • Encourage your employee to start a side hustle or passion project to learn from.
  • Offer professional development days, separate from vacation time.
  • Create a mentorship program to connect junior and senior staff.

Unsure what would be most effective? Ask your employees what would help them the most, and check our guide to employee development for more ideas .

What should I put for areas of improvement?

Individual development plans encourage and motivate your employees to achieve their dreams. However, as their manager, you may have some insights they don’t about skills they’re lacking to get them to the next step.

It’s best to bring these up during the planning meeting, so your employee can hear why you think these skills are important and how you’d suggest working on them. Together you can add action items to address them in the IDP.

It’s key to frame these developing areas in a positive and constructive light. You don’t want your employee to feel like they’re doing badly at these things, or their job. After all, no one’s perfect! Be open and honest and chances are, they’ll be grateful for the feedback and eager to improve the skills you’ve identified.

Create a professional IDP today with a customizable Venngage template

Whether you’re preparing for an employee’s annual review or creating an individual development plan for yourself, we’ve got the free templates you need to knock it out of the park.

Get started now and have your new IDP finished by the end of the hour. While you’re at it, why not also create a branded  offer letter  or  onboarding guide ?

For everything in your business, we’ve got a template for that.

Discover popular designs

why individual development plan is important

Infographic maker

why individual development plan is important

Brochure maker

why individual development plan is important

White paper online

why individual development plan is important

Newsletter creator

why individual development plan is important

Flyer maker

why individual development plan is important

Timeline maker

why individual development plan is important

Letterhead maker

why individual development plan is important

Mind map maker

why individual development plan is important

Ebook maker

  • Skip to Audience Navigation
  • Skip to Main Menu
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Main Content
  • Prospective Students
  • Current Student
  • Parents & Families

Postdoctoral Scholars

  • Prospective Postdoctoral Scholars
  • Info for New Postdoctoral Scholars
  • Moving to LA
  • Postdoctoral Scholar Appointment Policy and Procedure
  • Campus Services and Resources
  • Reporting Options
  • Professional Development

Image Placeholder

Individual Development Plan (IDP) Best Practices & Tools for Postdocs & Faculty

What is an individual development plan (idp).

An individual development plan (or, IDP) is a customized way to assess your professional goals and design a roadmap for accomplishing them. The IDP process guides you to reflect on your ultimate career goals, where you are now, and define specific actions (such as training or networking) toward achieving those goals. An effective IDP can help you make the most of your graduate or postdoctoral training, and assist you as you dedicate your time to developing your research, professional and communication skills.

An IDP will prompt you to:

  • Clarify short – medium- and long-term academic and professional goals
  • Identify areas that need development and locate helpful resources
  • Garner timely support from your mentor and strengthen your relationship
  • Create an action plan for your academic and professional development

Why is an IDP Important?

A thoughtfully completed IDP can serve as a proactive and effective planning and communication tool. The IDP process guides graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to reflect on their career goals in light of their current situation, and define specific actions to achieve goals. An IDP allows graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to identify their professional goals and to communicate these goals to their faculty advisor/mentor.

How does one complete an Individual Development Plan?

There are numerous ways to develop an IDP, several of which are available below. No matter which method(s) you select to create and explore your IDP, the following recommendations will help you to optimize your time and results.

Before taking an IDP assessment:

  • Give yourself 15-20 minutes of uninterrupted time to take the assessment
  • Be reflective and honest with yourself about your skills, interests and values
  • Take the assessment individually

Additionally, make sure that you set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-bound) goals for yourself:

  • Be honest about your strengths and weakness
  • Be realistic about what can be accomplished in a specific time-frame
  • Hold yourself accountable with an IDP colleague or work-group
  • The career path matches are one way of thinking about choosing your career. The results are not predictive, but rather serve as a starting place to explore and learn about these career paths. Be open to careers you hadn’t previously considered
  • Leverage the available MyIDP resources to learn more about the career paths
  • Answer questions using a range of responses from 1 to 5 to receive the most accurate career path matches

Individual Development Plan Tools

Assessment tools.

  • Myers-Briggs Personality Type
  • SkillScan : Identify your transferrable skills
  • DiSC Profile : Determine your behavioral tendencies and preferences

Career Exploration

  • Science Careers : STEM-focused blogs
  • Beyond Academia : Graduate student-run, highlights non-academic careers
  • Beyond the Professoriate : Focuses on non-faculty careers
  • InterSECT Job Simulations : Simulate daily tasks from different career paths (STEM and humanities)
  • The Versatile PhD : View job application materials, new Options4Success course

Career Planning

  • Beyond the Tenure Track : Weekly organizer for job searching
  • Jobs on Toast : Blogs and podcast interviews to learn how to market yourself
  • The Professor Is In : Job application and interview guidance
  • myIDP : STEM-focused Individual Development Plan. The myIDP website allows you to create a free online IDP profile including: exercises to help you examine your skills, interests, and values; 20 scientific career paths aligning to your skills and interests; tools for setting strategic goals; and resources to guide you through the process.
  • Imagine PhD : Humanities and social science-focused. ImaginePhD is a free online career exploration and planning tool for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences. Humanities and social sciences PhD students and their mentors have long recognized the need for more resources to help bridge the knowledge gap between doctoral education and the realm of career possibilities. ImaginePhD is designed to meet this need by allowing users to: assess their career-related skills, interests, and values; explore careers paths appropriate to their disciplines; create self-defined goals; and map out next steps for career and professional development success.

Best Practices

For postdoctoral scholars.

After taking an IDP assessment:

  • Attend events that help you to strategically expand your skills, knowledge and confidence regarding key aspects of your IDP.
  • Work on creating a network outside of your program to develop professional relationships and external mentorship. There are a number of UCLA and other resources available for expanding your network.

Important Information about Discussing your IDP with your Mentor (PI): You should prepare the IDP in advance: Complete the IDP and research potential resources in advance of your meeting. You want to come to the meeting with some ideas of how you plan to integrate your career development plans with your research goals. Your mentor may respond well to receiving a copy of your IDP a few days before your scheduled meeting to have time to review and consider the assessment.

  • Bring your SMART goals to your meeting – identifying what you plan to work on and accomplish in the coming month, 3 months and the coming year
  • Be prepared to discuss how the IDP could benefit the work of the lab and your productivity

You should lead the IDP conversation: Using the completed IDP as a guide, lead the discussion of your self-assessment, goals and plans. Your mentor should share his/her perspective and make suggestions, and ideally you will work collaboratively to develop a specific action plan to pursue over the next year.  This meeting could be coordinated as part of the required annual review for postdoctoral appointments. Remember that you can also highlight your accomplishments and progress since the last meeting in addition to the areas you have identified for development.

  • Manage your expectations around how much your advisor knows about some of the career paths, and try to limit questions about those paths.

If your mentor seems resistant to the IDP: While this is a common fear, most faculty mentors take their responsibility to the training and progress of their students quite seriously. If you have not approached your mentor with these issues or questions before, it will be important to approach the meetings with an open mind and have an idea of what taking the meeting “seriously” means to you. IDP planning workshops can help with this approach. UCLA has created IDP training workshops both for the trainees and the mentors, so your faculty mentor may be interested in IDP-related mentorship training or resources.

Additionally, you may point out to your PI that:

  • An annual IDP is a new requirement for NIH-funded trainees (started in October 2014);
  • Postdocs who define their goals and plans early on are better able to identify and participate in professional development opportunities, making them more productive and successful in the long-term; and
  • Clarifying career goals and expectations with their mentor/PI will lead to better communication, planning and more successful outcomes; and
  • The postdoc labor contract requires PIs to participate in an IDP process if requested by the postdoc. In addition, postdocs may request a written assessment of research goals and progress expectations for the coming year. For more information, see  Article 9  of the  UC-UAW Contract .

For Faculty AdvisORs and Mentors

What is an Individual Development Plan?

An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a graduate student- and postdoc-driven planning and assessment tool customized to each graduate student’s or postdoctoral scholar’s developmental stage and goals. When graduate students or postdocs complete an IDP, they receive an assessment of their skills, progress, goals, and action items. This process in turn helps graduate students and postdocs to better guide their progress meetings with faculty.

There are significant benefits to using an IDP process with your graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. An IDP:

  • Establishes a foundation for a solid working relationship with your graduate students and postdoctoral scholars
  • Sets clear expectations for the future
  • Assesses progress, skills and professional development needs, clarifying career goals and expectations, which will lead to greater productivity and success in the long term
  • Sets academic and professional development goals and action plans for achieving them

Indeed, the 2005 Sigma Xi Postdoc survey of US postdoctoral scholars showed that postdoctoral scholars who created a written career plan or IDP with their mentors were 23% more likely to submit papers, 30% more likely to publish first-authored papers, and 25% less likely to report that their mentor did not meet initial expectations.

If You Mentor a Postdoc:

The postdoc labor contract requires PIs to participate in an IDP process if requested by the postdoc. In addition, postdocs may request a written assessment of research goals and progress expectations for the coming year. For more information, see Article 9 of the  UC-UAW Contract .

Faculty’s Role in the IDP Process:

  • Your graduate students and postdocs may set up a meeting with you to share their IDP summary report with you.
  • During the meeting, it may be helpful to think about your student or postdoc’s progress, competencies and areas for improvement in light of his/her academic and professional goals. You might also review the IDP related events on this site and at grad.ucla.edu/careerhub for any that are relevant to your advisees needs.
  • Using the completed IDP as a guide/framework, students and postdocs are encouraged to lead the discussion of their self-assessment, goals and plans. In this way, they are empowered to take ownership of their training and professional development.
  • Your role is to add your perspective to their proposed plan, and the two of you will work collaboratively to identify specific actions and resources to help your student achieve his/her academic/professional goals.
  • If a student or postdoc seeks advice regarding alternative career paths or careers and goals outside of your area of expertise, you may:
  • Connect students and postdocs to a professional network that includes individuals in the areas of their interests, especially with alumni from their program
  • Recommend identifying a second mentor in their field of interest
  • Refer graduate students (not postdocs) to career counselors and resources at the UCLA Career Center
  • Encourage exploration of the varied career and professional development resources also available on campus through the Professional and Career Development Website
  • Acknowledge that each individual has her or his own goals, ideas, values, and circumstances. The right path for one person is not necessarily the right path for another.

A Note for the Biological Sciences:

Bioscience Ph.D. training provides outstanding preparation for careers in many different fields, including teaching, pharmaceutical research, biotechnology, law and regulatory issues, or government and non-profit policy groups. The scarcity of faculty positions relative to the supply of PhDs means that many of our students may pursue non-academic careers.

Many faculty members are already utilizing the IDP process with their graduate students and postdoctoral scholars within their department. The Science Careers  myIDP  website is one tool that can provide structure to the process.

New NIH Policy on IDPs:

The new NIH policy  encourages institutions to develop IDPs for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars supported by NIH awards. Starting Oct. 1, 2014, NIH began to encourage grantees to report the use of those IDPs on the progress report.

The Science Careers  myIDP  website has been modified to assist with institutional compliance.  A new feature of myIDP will allow users to print out or send a certificate to any email address documenting their progress in creating an IDP.  The certificate will have a checklist that reports which sections of myIDP have been completed and whether there has been a discussion with the mentor.  This will allow administrative officials to determine which sections need to be completed to comply with the new requirement.

Articles and Resources:

  • Science Careers –  You Need a Game Plan
  • Department Name
  • Los Angeles, CA 90095
  • 555.555.5555

Individual Development Plan: Definition, Template & Example

Individual Development Plan

An organization should always strive to develop its employees’ skills through an Individual Development Plan to perform better and the firm can operate more efficiently.

New employees, established employees, and seasoned executives all benefit from individual development plans. 

What is an Individual Development Plan?

Definition: An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a tool that allows employees to understand their strengths and limitations so that they can develop those areas and fill knowledge gaps.

IDP development is a collaborative activity that includes project managers and team members.

Components of an Individual Development Plan

An individual growth plan’s framework is unique to an organization, and it can have the following components:

Professional Goals and Ambitions

Professional goals and aspirations should include productivity and promotion targets along with actual achievement dates. It can include passing any certification exam, productivity targets, or ambitions to move up the corporate ladder.

Strengths and Talents

IDP should contain a performance assessment or a list of core competencies of the employee to determine their knowledge, skills, and abilities. Positive reinforcement is critical, and emphasizing strengths helps employees gain confidence and prepare them for new challenges.

Possibilities for Advancement

The plan should include a list of development opportunities and its goal. For example, if the growth opportunity is “communication skills,” the strategy can be a passing grade in a public speaking course.

Plans of Action

Individual development plans should have specific action plans geared to the individual and attainable. They should concentrate on a benefit for the team. 

For example, employees may take the following actions daily:

  • Mentoring other people
  • Getting advice from a mentor
  • Taking a development course
  • Getting involved in a professional organization
  • Obtaining professional accreditation
  • Leading or presenting
  • Cross-training for a different job
  • Attending professional seminars or conferences
  • Developing training programs for others in the team
  • Taking on more challenging tasks in their current position
  • Organizing team-building activities
  • Participating in community service

How To Effectively Implement Individual Development Plans For Employees

The five steps are required to implement an individual development plan: 

#1. Participate in a Conversation With Employees

The first step in developing IDPs is to talk to employees about career objectives. Following that, the manager will discuss the IDP with the team before putting the plan into action.

#2. Record Their Abilities, Knowledge, and Skills

Talent management is the function of human resources. This responsibility includes knowing the knowledge, skills, and capacities of employees.

#3. Determine Talent Gaps

Analyzing employees’ IDPs can help fill talent gaps in an organization. This step lowers the expense of bringing in outside talent while assigning internal employees to speed up corporate goals.

#4. Make Time-Sensitive Action Steps

IDPs are the first step toward better self-awareness. Employees will not get the benefits unless the steps are taken. The IDP should include time-sensitive action steps for better implementation. Taking action is crucial.

#5. Assess Progress

After implementing the IDP, the organization must analyze the progress. 

For example, the manager can check how many roles have been filled using IDP knowledge.

Individual Development Plan Template

The following templates can be used to create an individual development plan.

  • Name of the employee:
  • Title, position, function, and location:
  • List of professional ambitions and goals:
  • List of skills and abilities:

List the following essential development requirements:

  • List potential career paths:
  • Action plan (detailed actions or activities to attain objectives):
  • Steps to take:
  • Prices and terms:

Example of an Individual Development Plan

Experienced Middle Manager John Doe *Period: March 2022 – March 2023* * Development Goal: Improved effectiveness in present job and preparation for a future senior leadership role.

My Top Four Abilities

  • Functional and industry knowledge 
  • Financial acumen
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Sound decision-making abilities

Requirements for Development

  • Improve skills to lead change
  • Analytical/strategic thinking abilities
  • Cross-functional knowledge

Next Steps for Development

  • Discuss with my manager the possibility of leading a top-level, cross-functional process improvement team. This may positively impact my existing abilities and allow me to acquire expertise in managing change and strategic thinking and learn more about other corporate roles. 

Date: next month 

Cost: nothing, only time

  • Establish weekly 30-minute phone conversations with my supervisor, who has gained a lot of expertise running initiatives like this and achieved excellent outcomes. 

Date: Beginning in two weeks, with a plan for the rest of the month*

Developmental Steps

The following books should be read (one book every week)

  • Leading Change 
  • Green Grass Strategy 

Cost: roughly 30 USD per book

Developmental Measures 

  • Apply for a 360-degree leadership evaluation to better understand my growth requirements. Incorporate fresh insights into my growth strategies.

Completion date: February 2023

Cost: 300 USD for the assessment

Frequently Asked Questions on Individual Development Plans

#1. why is an individual development plan important.

An individual development plan is important for an organization and its employees because of the following reasons:

  • Direction: IDPs encourage employees to have determination, focus, and purpose. Their job transforms from being a paycheck source to a step towards achieving their professional goals.
  • Commitment: Employees appreciate it when the organization invests in their career development. This increases their loyalty to the organization. 
  • Opportunities: To meet future company needs, managers can use current employees’ knowledge, skills, abilities, and the direction they want to pursue. If required, they can provide training to employees.

#2. How to Create an Individual Development Plan?

The following steps are required to develop an individual development plan.

Make a List of Career Objectives

Knowing the current status and the employee’s objective is essential for creating an IDP.

Career objectives can change with time, but they provide a planning starting point. Listing goals boosts the chances of achieving them.

Create a Skills List

A manager needs to analyze the skills and abilities of their team.

They can talk to the employee and coworkers to help identify skills to get started.

Look for Resources

After knowing the project’s current status and the direction, it is essential to make a list of resources that will assist the project team in achieving the objectives.

These resources can include training, finding a mentor, or pursuing specific career experiences.

Consult With Management

It is necessary to discuss with management the requirements to accomplish the objectives.

They can offer all the financial resources required to achieve the set objective.

Create Milestones

This step creates time-specific actions to help employees evaluate their progress. But, first, they should share these milestones with their mentor and supervisor so they can help with accountability.  

Employees should not be afraid; the plan can change later. They must focus on the target and keep moving.

Review it Often

Organizations must review and measure progress. Progress can be measured monthly, quarterly, or yearly, as suitable.

#3. What is the Process for Creating an Individual Development Plan?

The IDP creation is a four-step process:

Step#1. Employee Self-Assessment

Employees should assess their strengths and weaknesses to determine the gaps in achieving their goals. 

Employees must first set a goal. Individuals should have specified roles and work expectations from the first day they join an organization. Employees should acknowledge their accomplishments and contributions to the organization’s progress at the conclusion of each month. This allows them to determine if they met or exceeded the prior month’s target.

They should then compare the knowledge and abilities listed under each responsibility. Employees should not be reluctant to inform seniors of their progress on a weekly or monthly basis. Individual growth plans cannot be created until the performance has been assessed. Employees must first recognize what they lack in order to comprehend what more has to be learned.

Step#2. Assess the Current Position

Employees must examine their existing position in the organization and think about enhancing their performance to grow their careers and help the organization perform better. 

Organizations confront challenges since most employees are not aware of management expectations. Therefore, employees must know the management’s expectations.

What if the organization has to deal with new clients or wants employees to take extra responsibilities? Are employees prepared to deal with changes in the workplace? Are they ready to deal with unanticipated occurrences or poor conditions?

How will training and new knowledge assist both the employees and the organization?

Determine the new talents employees must acquire to help the organization achieve its goals. Employees must know all the objectives they want to attain in their careers.

Step#3. Determine Development Activities

Determine how the employees will attain their professional development objectives and the measures they must take to improve their skills.

Step#4. Put the Plan into Action

Make a preliminary draft of the development strategy. Seek the assistance of the supervisor and management’s consent. Once a personalized individual development plan is created, put it into action. Implement it and measure the progress regularly.

#4. What Is the Difference Between an Individual Development Plan and a Performance Evaluation?

Performance evaluation analyzes and documents specific areas of an employee’s poor work performance, as well as the actions that must be taken to enhance it.

Underperforming employees are provided performance improvement programs.

An individual development plan is a tool for growth and development by establishing professional objectives and activities that employees may take to achieve those objectives. 

Everyone in an organization, including satisfied and high-performing staff, is routinely given a development plan.

#4. How Does an Individual Development Plan Differ from a Personal Development Plan?

Individual development plans and personal development plans are the same. Organizations use both phrases interchangeably.

#5. What is the Difference Between a Performance Improvement Plan and an Individual Development Plan?

There is a significant distinction between a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) and an Individual Development Plan (IDP). A PIP is used to legally establish that an employee is not doing their job to the acceptable standards. The PIP is mainly used for legal purposes to document performance concerns.

However, an IDP may be used in specific less progressive organizations instead of a PIP, and vice versa.

Individual development plans (IDPs) are advantageous because they allow both the individual and the employer to agree on steps that will help the employee grow while also helping the organization. Employee engagement improves as a result of the employer’s involvement in their professional development.

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

web analytics

How to Create an Effective Individual Development Plan for Your Career and Life Growth

Why incorporating idps into your career development is important, creating an effective individual development plan, why you need an individual development plan, the components of an effective individual development plan, maximizing the benefits of your individual development plan, understanding the individual development plan, maximizing employee growth through individual development plans, creating an individual development plan that works for you, key milestones, areas for development, self-assessment, new skills to focus on, 1. note the date and review period, 2. evaluate current expectations and performance, 3. set smart goals, example: individual development plan for october 2022, assessing the advancement of your individual development plan.

In the past, IDPs were mainly used in online courses to help individuals improve their performance. Now, the use of IDPs in the workplace has become more prevalent. If you want to fortify your career development , you should definitely consider implementing IDPs.

One of the primary benefits of incorporating IDPs into your career development is that it provides opportunities for everyone in your company to improve their skills. By broadening your use of IDPs, you can create a culture of continuous learning and professional development.

It’s also a good idea to integrate IDPs into your performance review process or one-on-one conversations with your supervisor. This way, you can set actionable goals and discuss your progress regularly.

As a professional, it’s important to constantly grow and develop in your career. One tool that can help you achieve this is an Individual Development Plan (IDP). An IDP is a structured plan that outlines your professional goals and the steps you need to take to reach them.

Without a plan in place, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut and feel unfulfilled in your career. An IDP can help you stay focused on your goals and keep progress moving forward. It also provides a tangible way to track your progress and share it with your manager during performance reviews.

An IDP should start with a clear identification of areas for growth. From there, the employee should be brought into the loop about these areas, with the need for change and the benefits of growth made clear. An actionable plan should follow, with specific steps identified and milestones set. Consistent review and adjustment are also important to ensure that progress is being made and that the plan remains relevant as circumstances change.

To make the most of an IDP, it’s important to regularly revisit the plan and assess your progress. As you move forward, you may need to make adjustments to your goals or your approach. Additionally, seeking out mentorship or engaging in training and development opportunities can help you stay on track and accelerate your growth. Remember that an IDP is a living document, and should always be updated to reflect your current circumstances and aspirations.

When it comes to professional growth, an individual development plan (IDP) can be a game-changer. This comprehensive tool is designed to help employees outline their personal development needs, identify career objectives, and track progress. Unlike popular belief that IDP is reserved for underperforming workers, it can serve as an excellent tool for career planning and skill development.

Through an IDP, employees can evaluate their current job performance vis-à-vis the expectations of their role. This permits them to identify areas of strength as well as areas that require development. If an employee desires to transition into a new position, whether it be a promotion or a lateral move, an IDP can serve as a roadmap by charting the core competencies required for the desired position. By creating and following an IDP, one can ensure that their professional development is optimized and aligned with their career aspirations.

Individual Development Plans (IDPs) are a comprehensive approach to performance evaluation and career advancement. IDPs merge the best of both worlds, combining a performance review with a career conversation to develop a single comprehensive employee action plan.

While feedback is vital to job satisfaction, productivity, and engagement, translating feedback into effective action requires a well-thought-out plan. IDPs should not be used as reprimands, and any companies who utilize them strictly for disciplinary purposes are missing out on an enormous opportunity for employee growth.

A well-established IDP can:

* Cultivate professional growth * Elevate productivity levels * Provide a clear roadmap for long-term attainment * Build stronger relationships between managers and their employees * Enhance overall retention rates

If you’re looking to improve your career prospects and develop your soft skills, an individual development plan (IDP) is a valuable tool to have in your arsenal. At its core, an IDP is a list of goals to help you achieve your personal and professional objectives. But what goes into an effective IDP?

Start your IDP by listing your key milestones to date. This could include completing a degree, earning a certification, or receiving a promotion. Taking stock of your accomplishments will give you a sense of progress and accomplishment, while also helping you identify areas where you might want to grow.

In order to continue growing and developing, it’s important to be honest about your current weaknesses. Identify the areas you want to improve, and consider what specific steps you can take to develop your skills in those areas. Whether it’s refining your public speaking skills or improving your time management, having clear goals can help you stay focused on your growth.

Self-assessment is a key component of any effective IDP. Take the time to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, and consider how they align with your long-term goals. Be honest with yourself about your areas for improvement, and consider seeking out feedback from colleagues or mentors to gain additional insight.

Finally, think about what new skills you want to develop in order to achieve your goals. This could include anything from mastering a new software program to improving your Leadership skills. Keep your goals specific and measurable, and consider breaking them down into smaller steps to make them more manageable.

Remember, an IDP is a living document that should be revisited and revised on a regular basis. By setting clear goals, reflecting on your progress, and staying focused on your growth, you can create an IDP that helps you achieve your career objectives and develop your soft skills over time.

If you want to improve your career and life, creating an individual development plan can be an excellent way to ensure you stay on track. While having a formalized template in place can be helpful, if your organization doesn’t offer one, you can create your own to track progress and set achievable goals. Here are three steps to take for every performance development plan:

It is essential to establish a timeline for your development plan. Consider your short-term goals and what you hope to achieve eventually and create a timeframe accordingly. If your timeframe is longer than a month, set interim action steps to help you stay on track.

Knowing where you stand right now can provide valuable insights into areas that require improvement. Identify any shortcomings and what’s expected of you. Even if you’re doing well, always be striving for growth.

Once you’ve identified areas for development, it’s time to create goals to help you achieve them. Your goals should be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely. For example, you might aim to increase Sales by a percentage or complete specific projects or tasks by a particular deadline. Remember, setting achievable, SMART goals can guide you towards success.

Let’s take a look at an example of an individual development plan for an associate account manager:

  • DATE: October 2022
  • GROWTH PERIOD: Q4 (October 2022 – December 2022)
  • CURRENT PERFORMANCE: The associate account manager is performing well in their role, with ratings of ‘meets expectations’ in the last three performance reviews. While they have exceeded revenue goals, their customer response rate is below average.
  • Increase revenue goal by 5%
  • Increase customer response rate to 100%
  • Assign and meet with a mentor on the account executive team
  • Enroll in and complete a sales online course program
  • Identify one potential business opportunity and create a plan for approaching them

By following these three steps and setting effective goals, you can create a robust individual development plan that sets you on the path to success. Remember, improvement is always possible with dedication and an understanding of the areas where you need to grow.

The success of an IDP can be measured by establishing clear objectives and expectations. It is imperative to define achievable goals that can be easily evaluated in the future. For this reason, managers and employees should collaborate in designing IDPs to make sure everyone is aware of the expected outcomes. By coming to a mutual understanding at the beginning of the process, IDPs can be reinforced for their developmental purposes instead of being viewed as disciplinary measures.

Not only does the IDP process contribute to performance management, but it also plays a crucial role in leadership development. These initiatives demonstrate to employees that their growth and development are important and encourage them to continue developing. Investing in these skills will ultimately lead to the growth of the individual and propel the organization forward.

Science of People - Logo

Professional Development Plan: What It Is and Why You Need One

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

What do Elon Musk, Pablo Picasso, and Ben Franklin all have in common?

Besides absolutely rocking each of the fields they were in (from tech to art to… well, everything) — it’s the fact that they didn’t just do great things because of their innate skill, or talent, or by chance of luck…

It’s that they all had personal and professional development plans to level-up their lives.

They worked non-stop on their skills, plans, and goals.

They didn’t just “work on their work” — they consciously worked on developing themselves so they would be hyper-capable at their chosen paths to achieve the big goals in their lives.

Watch our video below to learn how to level-up your life with a professional development plan:

What is a Professional Development Plan?

A Professional Development Plan is a roadmap containing the skills, strategy, and education you need to further yourself in career and life to achieve your professional goals.

Professional development is traditionally associated with careers in which it’s compulsory, like teaching, but it’s something that everyone can (and should) be utilizing in their lives!

When you look at the highest achievers in history – the Elon Musks, the Jeff Bezos’, Teslas, Franklins, Twains, DaVincis and every Olympic athlete –– they all achieved their professional development through discipline, education, and planning.

Whether it was from an institution, organization, or most importantly, by themselves.

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. — Jim Rohn

If you’re here on this blog, I bet you’re working towards some form of improvement.

You’re working on getting to the next level of mastery –– maybe you want to:

  • Move up in your organization or leadership level
  • Bring your business to the next level or scale it
  • Get the raise you’ve always wanted (and deserve)
  • Or… you just want to work on your people skills so you can get everything out of life

Well, let me ask you, have you ever felt a bit stuck –– like you’re not moving up the levels in the game of life?

Like you’re one of those cartoon characters running in place??

Trust me, I know that feeling…

The secret to “stepping up to the next level” is to have a professional development plan .

And implement it.

5-Step Professional Development Plan to Being Hyper-Capable

I want to share this concept of having your own “Professional Development Plan”.

With a Professional Development Plan, your biggest areas of need –– from common concerns like goal setting to negotiation skills to speaking skills to productivity –– can be assessed, addressed, and positioned for success with your own personal roadmap.

You can put a path in place to help each area improve with one skill building on top of the next.

The end result: better career and life opportunities through personal and professional growth.

So let’s boil that down to an actionable plan for you!

Ready to start planning your professional development?

Use our free worksheet to get started on your Professional Development Plan.

The First Step: Self Analysis

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self. Ernest Hemingway

Most likely you’re the type of person seeking to achieve ‘hyper capability’ in your given field of passion or work. I like to define being hyper-capable as having the knowledge, resources, and actionable tactics to achieve the goals, life, and dreams you desire…and know exactly how to get there.

It’s one thing to want more out of life. It’s another to actually plan for it. Hyper-capable people have both the desire and the drive to achieve greatness.

As we work on a Professional Development Plan, before we move forward toward goals and actions… you need to know who you are and what you truly want.

“…successful people are good at matching goals with their own skill sets .” — Harvard Business School

So, first you have to self-analyze.

Let’s examine your skill sets, your strengths, your weaknesses, your habits, your desires.

Get out a fresh piece of paper, or a Word doc, or an Evernote note and start to free-flow write and be honest with yourself.

What do you LOVE to do? What are you best at? What would people pay you for?

(Hint: It can be great to ask your biggest cheerleaders for input with this).

List all your strengths in a bullet list of power statements like this:

  • I excel at: 
  • I feel capable when I:
  • My strength is:

And then list your weaknesses. What do you loathe doing…? What would you rather clean bathrooms instead of doing? What are you just not that great at? Please list your weaknesses as desire statements. Instead of saying “I’m bad at ___” (which is very limiting), try “I want to be better at ___.”

  • I want to be better at: 
  • I would like to improve my:
  • I need to learn how to excel at:

Here are the most common weaknesses we see at Science of People:

I want to be a better  leader.

I need to improve my  public speaking skill s.

I want to learn how to  network.

After listing those, ask yourself where are you at NOW and where you want to BE…

What pops into mind with these prompts below:

Right now I’m: ___________

I want to be: _____________

It’s not until we are aware of what we need that we can work on them. Let’s see what to do with this info in the next step.

Make sure to download our worksheet and do this assessment at the end of each month. (See link at the bottom)

The Second Step: Setting Quality Goals

Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success. — Pablo Picasso

You need a goal, a vision, an end.

Once you have a solid goal, you can work backward.

And, research continually shows that people who have goals are more successful.

As this Wharton article says on achieving high performance at work, “The no. 1 most powerful factor is setting fewer, bigger goals.”

Did you notice that research said FEWER?

Lots and lots of goals is not the goal.

Aim for higher quality and less quantity. You don’t want to get “bogged down” on setting too many goals, but rather, you want to pick a few BIG goals to work toward.

In relation to the previous step, once you know your strengths and your weaknesses, you’ll be able to see where your gaps are. And gaps are just identifiers of where you need to go.

In other words, gaps can be goal identifiers.

Watch our video below to learn the science behind goal setting:

For example, let’s say public speaking isn’t your greatest strength.

A goal could be to book one event in the next three months where you speak in front of people.

This doesn’t have to be a big keynote or panel, but maybe there’s a meetup on Meetup.com of local business owners, entrepreneurs, etc and you can go there and “introduce” yourself to the room of people.

Or maybe there’s even an open mic you can speak at.

The key is that if public speaking isn’t your greatest strength, you would create a goal to work on it. And chip away at it every month.

And, one more thing.

You want to take time to write down your goals . Try to tie them to your strengths and weaknesses. Do the following exercise:

  • What is one goal that utilizes one of my strengths?
  • What is one goal that can help me improve a weakness?

The widespread 2015 study by psychologist Gail Matthews at Dominican Edu shares:

…more than 70 percent of the participants who sent weekly updates to a friend reported successful goal achievement (completely accomplished their goal or were more than halfway there), compared to 35 percent of those who kept their goals to themselves, without writing them down.

The process of writing your goals down helps solidify the thoughts in your mind, bring them out into the world, and begin the process of holding yourself accountable.

The Third Step: Focus, Focus, Focus

That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains. — Steve Jobs

This step can feel like the hardest one in our cell phone-addicted, tweet-loving, Insta-story age.

A time where everything and everyone around us is trying to steal our attention and our focus.

Focus is such a valuable asset and something you should be working on for peak productivity.

This NYTimes article shows a research study where people were distracted by messaging interruptions while performing a task…

…the distraction of an interruption, combined with the brain drain of preparing for that interruption, made our test takers 20 percent dumber. That’s enough to turn a B-minus student (80 percent) into a failure (62 percent).

If you want to be successful, you have to minimize distractions and stay focused.

Focus is one of the most valuable assets you can have!

From the previous step, once you have your goal, you need to be able to really dial in to working on it in a productive, effective, and focused way.

I highly recommend Cal Newport’s book Deep Work to help increase your focus.

The Wharton School at U Penn shares this about ‘deep work’,

To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction.

Now, this doesn’t mean you need to work 6-hours straight on a single task.

But, it means you should focus on a specific task at a time, rather than multi-tasking or trying to do 10 different things over that time frame.

A very popular method for focus among productivity pros is called “ The Pomodoro Technique .”

What you do is set a timer (which you can find with a quick Google search) and give yourself a small time limit to work extremely focused on a given task (typically 25 minutes) and then take a short break (5 minutes), which gives your mind a momentary rest.

Then you get right back to it.

The process of working with intense focus for 25-minutes and then taking a break is healthy for the brain and actually leads to more productivity.

When you get the small “reward” of a break after focused work, where you can stretch, walk around, or relax your mind with one of your normal “distractions”, it helps you get right back to your focus a few minutes later.

It’s a fact – focused work helps you get closer to your goals – faster.

If focus is one of your biggest areas for improvement be sure to check out our 14 Unique Science-Backed Productivity Tips .

The Fourth Step: A Great Morning Routine

I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up. — Benjamin Franklin

Okay, that’s not really the morning routine I’m talking about but I love that quote. And if you’re alive in the morning, you should have a routine so you can maximize your life!

I remember the exact month and year I started my own morning routine. Why? it completely changed my productivity. I used to let my mornings dictate my day. I know I needed a morning routine because I:

  • Languished in bed checking social media for waaaaay too long every day.
  • Dreaded getting up in the morning.
  • Would suddenly realize it was lunch time and I had gotten nothing done.

Sound familiar? You need to set-up your morning routine to initiate your hyper-capability.

Tim Ferriss , a global expert in analyzing, interviewing and sharing the habits of the highest performers and most successful people in the world often talks about the power of their morning routines.

Despite the fact that these are people from tennis to surfing to cryptocurrency to fill-in-the-blank, like any field you can possibly imagine — some type of morning mindfulness or meditation practice would span I’d say 90% of the respondents.

There are studies, books, and hundreds of articles written on one of the most unifying things of all hyper-capable, high achieving, highly successful people across all types of disciplines in life (business, art, tech, innovation, etc) –– they all take complete command and control of their mornings.

It’s one of the most vital ways to guide the success of your day (and in turn… your life). 

If you don’t have one, you need to create one. I have a whole blog on how you can create the best morning routine .

Watch our video below to learn how to create the perfect morning routine:

The Fifth Step: Taking Action

Action is the foundational key to all success. — Pablo Picasso

It’s been the mantra of every self-development guru, philosopher, and hyper-capable human since the dawn of time.

There are no results without action.

Once you know your strengths, your goals, have a great morning routine, and you’re focused on the task – the only thing left is action.

True action.

Bit by bit, day by day, we create the lives we want. Action ties into goals because so many people just “write down goals” but don’t commit to acting upon them.

Here’s how we can activate your goals. First, set a monthly reminder to write down your 3-5 monthly goals at the beginning of the month and follow up on what was accomplished the previous month.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say these were 3 of my goals at the beginning of the month:

  • Cold email outreach to 10 new prospects per week
  • Take a local class on ‘Networking Success’
  • Schedule and do a photoshoot to level-up my LinkedIn

On the last day of the month, I would open the document and reflect on the goals. Then I would assess the actions I took on them.

  • Did I actually cold outreach 10 people per week? Who said yes and who said no?
  • Did I Google search and sign up for the networking course? How did it go? Should I do another?
  • Did I look for local photographers, check out rates, and schedule the photoshoot? Do I have the right outfits? Am I ready?

All of those question reflections are looking at the action I would have taken over the month, and I can either confidently note that YES I took action and moved the ball forward, or no I did not and it’s time to step up and take the action.

Many people make the mistake of tracking their goals — did they succeed or fail? But what’s even more important is tracking the action. Did you take action on your goal or not? Action is what moves things forward.

It’s Never Too Late to Start Developing Yourself

If you want a great jump in the quality of your life, an extraordinary jump in the quality of your life… You gotta set yourself up to win, you gotta set yourself up for the process that allows you to consistently grow, constantly enjoy your life and consistently produce the results that you’re after. — Tony Robbins

A personal and professional development plan doesn’t have to be rigorous like you’re getting a university degree.

It doesn’t have to be boring like you’re sitting in a 6-hour, monthly office check-up.

And it doesn’t have to be something you wait until next year to start.

A plan is something YOU can create and stick to.

You can create the parameters and you can judge its effectiveness.

Ben Franklin notoriously created 13 virtues or “categories” of self-development that he measured himself on *daily* for months, all in an effort to improve himself as a human and as a worker.

And, I must say… I think he did quite well.

Now, he may have been Ben Franklin.

But you can be the most incredible and successful you .

To your success and development,

Popular Guides

20 thoughts on “professional development plan: what it is and why you need one”.

why individual development plan is important

Dear Vanessa, It is a pleasure to meet you via email.Thank you for sharing the PDP. I am an fan of yours and I bought your book: Captivate. Unfortunately, I cannot find your first book that you wrote and Barnes and Noble/Amazon does not have it. I am very sad for this.

Sincerely, Sarah Nandlal Baruch College student, Corporate Communication [email protected]

why individual development plan is important

Hi Sarah! Vanessa’s first book, Captivate, is available both at Barnes and Noble and Amazon- you can find the link here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01L8C4WKC?pf_rd_r=8NSA91BVSB8B3D5YZFEM&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee&pd_rd_r=704754a7-2e9a-4f6e-b70b-5876e29a520c&pd_rd_w=PSLb7&pd_rd_wg=kyHiC&ref_=pd_gw_unk Thanks for reaching out! -Kensi | Science of People Team

why individual development plan is important

very interesting information, keep it up

why individual development plan is important

Enjoyed your YouTube session on Professional Development. However, I do not see the Professional Development 6 month free template link below. Please email.

Thank you so much

why individual development plan is important

Hi, Patricia! This can happen sometimes if you already signed up for our newsletter. Have you tried using a different browser and/or clearing your browsing history? Let me know if this helps. Rob | Science of People Team

Comments are closed.

How to Deal with Difficult People at Work

Do you have a difficult boss? Colleague? Client? Learn how to transform your difficult relationship. I’ll show you my science-based approach to building a strong, productive relationship with even the most difficult people.

Related Articles

Science of People offers over 1000+ articles on people skills and nonverbal behavior.

Get our latest insights and advice delivered to your inbox.

It’s a privilege to be in your inbox. We promise only to send the good stuff.

Create your company account

Job description templates

Recruitment assessments

Recruitment platform

  • Qualification assessments

Find your dream job

Browse jobs

Create your profile

What is an Individual Development Plan (IDP)?

According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report , a whopping 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career path. A later study from Gallup highlights that Learning new skills ranks as the third most important perk when evaluating job opportunities. In conclusion, Learning and Development is no longer an optional perk or only reserved to key positions.

This is where Individual Development Plans (IDPs) comes into play. In this article, we will study what an IDP is and the key role they play in the retention of the workforce.

What is an IDP?

To put it simply, an Individual Development Plan (IDP) is an action plan that supports competency development. The ultimate objective of an IDP is to assist employees in achieving their career objectives on time.

why individual development plan is important

A powerful tool supporting performance and retention

An IDP does not just point out “what has to be done” to reach career development objectives. Instead, it details “how” to reach development objectives with a succession of learning activities. 

An IDP is a comprehensive roadmap that takes into account: 

  • Which competencies shall be developed to reach career goal(s): What is the current competency level VS expected competency level?
  • What must be done: What is the targeted quantified objective that would means this is mission accomplished?
  • How to achieve the expected level: What is the action plan to get there?
  • Who will be taking part in the evaluation process and monitoring the progress?
  • How is progress measured: At which frequency? 

A timebound strategy

An IDP must be defined in time, to make sure that talents are reaching the expected career path on time. 

As business operations cannot be disrupted because of talent shortage, top management needs to be reassured that the business can survive short-term departures or long-term succession priorities. To achieve this, a talent process must be in place to ensure that a talent can jump on the role in case of resignation, termination, or retirement. 

The HR department is accountable for the talent management process. This process aims to make sure that the business has the right talent, at the right place, at the right time. 

To do so, large organizations are rolling out time-bound action plans to close gaps between current position requirements, and future career paths positions – to make sure the business has the right supply of talent. 

A common case of closing gaps between a current position VS career path is the promotion of an employee to a position of management: 

If this employee has never been prepared to managing a team, he/she must become familiar with Performance Management concepts: how to recruit, develop, train and coach others, how to give and receive feedback etc. Therefore, an IDP must be drafted ahead of time

(with on-the-job assignments and learning opportunities) so that the employee can jump into a new role with an operational skillset on time. 

A structured plan that mixes formal learning, Mentoring and stretch assignments

What is really inside an IDP? Individual development plans that perform are aligned with the 70:20:10 principle. 70:20:10 is a guideline ratio and highlights that the vast majority of the learning is coming from on-the-job experience. It is also important to understand that varying between the 3 learning types will allow different learning profiles to assimilate competencies – as some people learn better through repetition, others visually, and others through hands-on trial and error.

why individual development plan is important

Stretch Assignments The most important learning type (70%)

why individual development plan is important

To develop a competency, employees must be given practical on the job assignments that match their career objective. 

Social learning Learning through others (20%)

why individual development plan is important

Social learning is about receiving feedback, coaching, or mentoring to improve. Such feedback may come from direct management, peers, direct reports, experts, or even external stakeholders, such as, suppliers and customers. 

Active learning Learning by theory (10%)

why individual development plan is important

It can be an E-learning class, a podcast, a book, a workshop etc. Although active learning cannot replace learning on the job, it is really important to provide fundamental knowledge and concepts as well as a great source of inspiration to employees. The key is to link active learning with practical on the job assignments

Learn more about 70/20/10 and blended learning here.

Challenges of implementing IDPs

Employee buy-in over career path.

An IDP would not be effective if it is not acknowledged by the employee. To be effective, clear explanation must be provided about the targeted career paths milestones, as well as the priority skills to be developed (skills gaps). 

Tip: Share career path objectives transparently during one-on-one. Agree on timelines, competencies development priorities, and the action plan. 

Manager commitment

The manager must ensure he/she is allocating time for monitoring, and that assignments provided are really aligned with the development objectives. More often than not, managers need HR support to craft an IDP and needs reminders to follow up on the action plans. 

Tips : 

  • Train managers about the how to draft IDPs
  • Install a one-on-one process dedicated to IDP follow up at least once per quarter. Once per month is better. 

IDP monitoring outside of the performance management system

IDPs are too frequently created and monitored separately from the current performance management system in place. 

There is a way to combine development plans and goal-setting into a single process so that performance supports both the company’s objectives, AND the employee career path’s objectives. 

  • Include competencies as a key component of the performance management system. 
  • Integrate the action plan into the employee performance objectives 
  • Set smart objectives and KPIs to measure performance outputs.

 Learn more about objectives setting here .

Steps to create a successful IDP program

Every company has their own way of creating idps. here are the main steps:.

1.  The foundations

Defining the employee’s position (usually part of the job description), as well as its individual goals (annual performance goals).

 The company must perform a mapping of each competency required to perform the job, using their own competency framework or by using AI and skills data.

Click here to get started with competency mapping. 

2. Identify and focus on skill gaps

Learning resources are scarce, we don’t want to be training an employee on things she/he doesn’t require. Assessing the current skills and knowledge that the employee possesses is key to identifying IDP priorities. This can be done by performing a Competency Review. More skills-driven companies may prefer using a 360 assessment (unbiased evaluation) that may include the employee (self-assessment), its supervisor, peers and/or internal experts. 

Click here to get started with competency reviews.

3. Craft the plan

Outline and identify the plans to reach the employee’s career path objectives on time. We recommend balancing the plan activities according to the 70-20-10 principle.

4. Smooth execution

Implementing the aforementioned plans by training and development. Many organizations tend to rely solely on HR to monitor and execute. That is a mistake. Managers MUST be involved during the year to make sure all components of the IDP of their team is on track.

5. Evaluate the result and iterate!

Performance reviews usually allow measuring if skills gaps are being addressed as intended. To get accurate feedback on competency development plans and gaps to be addressed, it is recommended to perform 360-degree assessments at regular intervals to keep track of the results.

Free IDP template

Free IDP template

Switch language


The Importance of Individual Development Plans -- Part I


why individual development plan is important

"What one skill, if you developed and did it in an excellent fashion, would have the greatest positive impact on your work and life?" 

If you do not know the answer to this question then I recommend you complete a Job Benchmark on your role. 

Not everyone is self-aware enough to know the areas that call for development. In fact, many people I work with need outside perspective to figure out the areas that they will need to focus on developing, whether for the role they are in now or a role they want to have in the future. I use Job Benchmarks and a 360 feedback survey to enable my coaching clients to gain an understanding of how others perceive their strengths and developmental areas. These reports enable us to answer the question easily.  

When we get to the Individual Development Plan, each plan is unique to the employees' current needs. If you ask one of your employees to participate in training, connect the dots for them explaining why it's related to their current role and developmental areas within the bigger picture. 

Consider including these in an IDP:

A job benchmark that shows the key accountabilities and what is needed for success in the current role

A Unique Talent Report that shows the employee's competencies, motivators, behavioral hierarchy and dimensional balance

A Gap Report that highlights where the job and the person are aligned and where they aren't

A Coaching Report that helps the employee to understand his or her own preferred communication style, workplace motivators, acumen and competencies, as well as emotional intelligence patterns.

An Action Plan that ties all the parts together with direction about where to focus our development conversations.

Read Part 2 in our series on The Importance of Professional Development Plans here !

If you would like help creating a Professional Development Plan, please contact us.  We can custom-design an Individual Professional Development Plan for you or your team.  For more information, click here.

Ready to learn more? Contact us at  888-959-1188

Road closure on Marquam Hill: Part of S.W. Campus Drive is closed until March 2025.

Postdoctoral Affairs

Individual development plans.

You have spent your entire career obtaining the degrees, skills, and experiences necessary to reach this point. So now what? How do you leverage that training into a career that is fulfilling - one that peaks your interest, challenges you, and meets your core values? An individual development plan, or IDP, can help you answer this question.

An IDP is a tool, created by you, to map and meet your career goals. In essence, it is a list of goals and objectives set to a specific timeline. The goals include those for your research project, for skills development, and for career planning. When discussed with and developed further between you and your mentor, an IDP will help you set and work toward realistic goals, keeping you on your desired career path, or helping you forge a new one.

Why use an IDP?

Postdocs who develop a defined written career plan report greater career satisfaction, improved productivity and effectiveness, and better interactions with their mentors. Other reasons to write an IDP include: 

  • An IDP facilitates discussion between mentor and mentee, clarifying expectations
  • An IDP is not generic, as it focuses on personalized needs and goals
  • An IDP clarifies short- and long-term goals and the activities required to meet them
  • An IDP is required, or strongly encouraged, by funding agencies like the NIH - read more about development plans on the NIH site

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs recommends using  myIDP from Science Careers , as it contains an abundance of resources to help you develop and set goals, allows you to create reminders to keep your goals on track, and provides ways to share your goals with your mentor. Additionally, through included self-assessment exercises, myIDP generates a suggestive list of career options, with associated resources, to help you explore your careers options.

myIDP from Science Careers

This online tool is a great way to set your goals and define your career path.

Mentorloop Mentoring Software

Combine Individual Development Plans with Mentoring for Success

  • June 28, 2023

mentoring partners discussing their individual development plans

Do you have big ambitions for your personal growth and professional development? Without a clear strategy and objectives, it can be tough to achieve those goals. Fortunately, individual development plans (IDPs) can help you to define a roadmap for your progress.

And when you combine IDPs with mentoring, you can accelerate your progress even more.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of combining individual development plans with mentoring, and take a closer look at the key elements that you need to include in your plan.

Understanding the Importance of Individual Development Plans

Before we dive into the specifics of individual development plans and mentoring, let’s take a step back and ask: why are these approaches so valuable?

Essentially, they help to give you a clear sense of direction and purpose within your personal and professional life. By setting clear goals, you can prioritize your efforts and make sure that you’re making progress in the right areas.

But why is this so important? Well, without clear goals and a plan to achieve them, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day routine of work and life. You may find yourself going through the motions, without any real sense of purpose or direction. This can lead to feelings of frustration, boredom, and even burnout .

On the other hand, when you have a clear plan in place, you know exactly what you’re working towards and why. This can help you stay motivated and focused, even when the going gets tough. You’ll be able to see the progress you’re making toward your goals, which can be incredibly rewarding and inspiring.

The Role of Individual Development Plans in Personal Growth

At the heart of an individual development plan is the idea of self-reflection . This means taking the time to assess your skills, strengths, and weaknesses, and identifying areas where you need to improve. But why is self-reflection so important?

Well, for one thing, it helps you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your capabilities. By taking a step back and looking at yourself objectively, you can identify areas where you excel, as well as areas where you could use some work. This can be incredibly empowering, as it allows you to play to your strengths and work on your weaknesses.

Self-reflection can also help you identify areas where you may be holding yourself back. For example, you may have limiting beliefs or self-doubt that are preventing you from reaching your full potential. By recognizing these barriers, you can work to overcome them and achieve greater success.

Once you’ve done this self-reflection, you can design a plan of action that’s tailored to your unique needs and objectives. With a defined strategy in place, you’ll be able to track your progress and measure your success over time. And by continually assessing your performance and refining your approach, you can stay focused and motivated on your path to self-improvement.

Learn more from mentoring expert, Georgia Pascoe as she explores Why Formalised Reflection And Goal Setting Is Important — Especially Now .

Key Elements of an Effective Individual Development Plan

So, what are the key elements that you need to include in your individual development plan?

  • Clear objectives:  You need to set out specific, measurable targets that you want to achieve. These should be aligned with your personal and professional goals, and should be challenging but achievable. There’s a reason SMART goals are all the rage.
  • Timelines:  You should establish a timeline for your goals, so that you can track your progress over time and stay focused on your objectives. This will help you stay accountable and motivated.
  • Performance indicators:  You should define how you’ll measure your success, and what criteria you’ll use to assess your progress. This might include metrics like revenue, customer satisfaction, or personal growth milestones.
  • Action steps:  You need to plan out the specific steps you’ll take to achieve your goals, and establish deadlines and goals for each one. This will help you break down larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks.
  • Resources:  You should consider what resources you’ll need to achieve your goals, including training, mentorship, and support. This might involve seeking out a mentor, taking courses or workshops, or joining a professional organization.

By including these key elements in your individual development plan, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. You’ll have a clear roadmap to follow, and will be able to track your progress and adjust your approach as needed–having a mentor can assist in refining this roadmap even further. With time and effort, you’ll be able to achieve your goals and reach new heights in your personal and professional life.

mentoring partners talking

The Power of Mentoring in Personal Development

Now that we’ve explored the key elements of an effective individual development plan, let’s shift our focus to mentoring . Essentially, mentoring is a process of learning from those who have more experience and expertise in areas where you want to improve. By tapping into the insights and knowledge of others, you can accelerate your progress and learn valuable new skills and techniques.

How Mentoring Contributes to Individual Development

Mentoring can be hugely beneficial for your personal and professional growth. Here are just a few ways that it can help:

  • Access to expertise:  Your mentor can give you access to specialized knowledge, experience , and perspectives that would be hard to acquire on your own.
  • Feedback and support:  You’ll receive quality feedback and guidance from someone who has your best interests at heart, helping you to stay focused and motivated.
  • Networking opportunities:  Your mentor can help you to build valuable networks and connections that can advance your career. In fact, mentors who build and extend their networks succeed the most .
  • Personal growth:  When you work with a mentor, you’ll often challenge your own assumptions and push beyond your comfort zone, helping you to grow more as a person.

Choosing the Right Mentor for Your Development Plan

Of course, not all mentors are created equal. To get the most out of your mentorship experience, you need to choose the right person for your needs. Consider looking for someone who:

  • Has experience in areas where you need to improve
  • Shares your values and vision for success
  • Is someone you respect and trust
  • Can challenge you constructively to achieve your goals

Program Coordinators, you can easily match (manually or by algorithm) based on a variety of criteria, such as skills and/or goals. Your participant infographics can help you keep your program balanced, in terms of the number of participants wanting to learn a new skill and the number of mentors that offer it.

individual performance plans can benefit from a mentoring partner with complementary skills.

Integrating Mentoring into Individual Development Plans

So, now that we’ve explored the key elements of individual development plans and the benefits of mentoring, let’s look at how you can actually integrate these two approaches together.

Steps to Incorporate Mentoring in Your Development Plan

Here are some steps to consider when developing a mentoring component within your individual development plan:

  • Assess your needs:  Identify what areas you need support in, and what kind of mentorship would be most useful to you.
  • Find a mentor:  Use your networks to identify potential mentors who could help you achieve your goals. If your organization uses Mentorloop, simply request a match or search for your ideal mentor.
  • Establish your objectives:  Work with your mentor to define clear goals and objectives for your mentorship program.
  • Develop an action plan:  Create a roadmap for how you’ll work together, establish timelines and deadlines, and define performance indicators.
  • Measure your success:  Continually assess your progress and measure your success, using performance indicators and feedback from your mentor.

Measuring the Success of Individual Development Plans with Mentoring

Of course, simply creating an individual development plan and engaging in mentorship is not enough on its own. You need to be able to measure your progress and determine whether you’re successfully achieving your goals.

Key Performance Indicators for Development Plan Success

Here are some key performance indicators to consider when measuring the success of your development plan:

  • Achievement of objectives:  Are you meeting your targets and achieving your stated objectives?
  • Skills growth:  Are you developing new skills and competencies that help you to perform better in your role?
  • Leadership development:  Are you making progress toward developing your leadership abilities?
  • Career advancement:  Are you advancing within your organization or pursuing new opportunities that align with your long-term goals?

Tools and Techniques for Monitoring Progress

To effectively monitor your progress, you might consider using some of the following tools and techniques:

  • Check-ins:  Regular meetings with your mentor to assess performance and discuss challenges and opportunities.
  • Goal tracking:  Using a tool like a spreadsheet or task management software to track progress towards your objectives.
  • Feedback surveys:  Soliciting feedback from others, such as colleagues or customers, to gauge your performance.
  • Performance appraisals:  Regular assessments of your performance within your role, to help you identify areas for improvement.

Overcoming Challenges in Implementing Individual Development Plans with Mentoring

While individual development plans with mentoring can be hugely beneficial, they’re not without their challenges. Here are some common obstacles that you might face:

Common Obstacles and How to Overcome Them

  • Time constraints:  It can be tough to find time for self-reflection and mentorship when you’re busy with other commitments. Consider scheduling regular meetings and carving out dedicated time in your calendar for these activities. The best mentoring relationships are intentional with their time .
  • Resistance to change:  It can be hard to break out of old habits and try new approaches to personal and professional development. Consider setting small, manageable goals to help build momentum and overcome feelings of resistance.
  • Lack of accountability:  Without some form of accountability, it can be tough to stay focused and motivated on your goals. Consider working with a mentor or accountability partner who can help keep you on track.

Ensuring Continuous Improvement and Adaptability in Your Plan

Ultimately, the key to success with individual development plans and mentoring is to stay flexible and adaptable. As you encounter challenges, setbacks, and new opportunities, be willing to adjust your approach and revise your goals. And always keep in mind that personal and professional growth is a continual process, requiring ongoing reflection, self-awareness, and a willingness to learn and experiment.

Emily Ryan

Share this Article

Join the loop

continue Learning

why individual development plan is important

Kristin from the Mentorloop team shares how mentoring has helped her and the rest of the Europe team navigate the challenges that come with remote work.

perks of mentoring

At Mentorloop we define mentoring relationships as mutually rewarding, voluntary relationships that can be entered into by almost anyone. We

why individual development plan is important

Mentorloop is thrilled to announce that we have teamed up with our friends at Rippling!

At the core of this partnership is our shared mission of improving admin management for data-driven people heroes.

Create a culture of mentoring where your people are always learning, supported, and sponsored to success

why individual development plan is important


  1. The individual development plan: Benefits, best practices, and examples

    Yale University's guide for creating an individual development plan describes the process as a partnership led by the employee and supported by the manager. The steps in Yale's process include ...

  2. Individual Development Plan: What It Is and How To Write One

    An individual development plan is a plan of action created to improve a person's knowledge, skills and abilities. IDPs can help professionals and their managers outline an actionable plan for career growth and professional development. Many educational institutions also use these forms to help students define and achieve their long-term goals.

  3. Understanding the Importance of Individual Development Plans

    An individual development plan links the individual's career interests and goals to organizational goals. It is a systematic approach that aims at improving performance and strengthening employer-employee relations. The following are the major goals of preparing an individual development plan: Identify and teach new skills to perform a new ...

  4. Your guide to individual development plans (with examples)

    Remember, an individual development plan tracks action steps needed to go to the next level. And even if you're doing well, there's always a next level to go to. 3. Set goals ... The IDP process is an important tool for performance management, but it's an equally valuable part of leadership development. These types of initiatives help ...

  5. Individual Development Plan: How & Why To Create One

    Step 1: Write Down Professional Goals. A critical part of the individual plan is knowing where you want to go. That doesn't mean that it won't change over the years, but it at least gives you some focus to begin planning. Never forget that just writing down goals increases the chance of accomplishing those goals.

  6. Individual Development Plans: How to Drive Employee Career Growth

    An individual development plan (IDP) is a documented career guideline created by employees and managers to help employees grow and reach career goals. IDPs are adaptable and intended to grow with the employee throughout their career journey. The key purposes and benefits of individual development plans are to increase employee retention ...

  7. Personal Development Plan (PDP): How to Develop One (with ...

    Personal development is the process of looking inward and concentrating on ways to better yourself. It focuses on rebuilding habits and ways of thinking, like developing better problem-solving skills, practicing self-compassion, or fostering a growth mindset . But it's far from simple.

  8. A guide to creating a successful individual development plan

    A step-by-step guide to making an IDP. While an IDP has a few different components, these plans aren't difficult to make. You can help an employee create an individual development plan in just four steps. Here's how: 1. Complete a self-reflection. To start, have the employee fill out a self-reflection.

  9. Why Do You Need An Individual Development Plan?

    Individual development plans for employees focus on personal improvement. They can include gaining skills to progress at work. They can also improve personal skills such as communication, leadership, negotiating, self-confidence, time management and decision making. An individual development plan will help improve upon an employee's overall ...

  10. Tips How To Create And Implement Your Individual Development Plan

    There are four steps you'll need to take to create a well thought out Individual Development Plan. 1. Identify your professional goals. The first step to creating an IDP is to figure out your short- and long-term professional goals. To do this, you need to determine what motivates and energizes you at work, and what kind of opportunities you ...

  11. What Is Personal Development and Why Is It Important?

    6 steps to developing a personal development plan. Like any other goal, it's important to put together a plan. By assembling your personal development plan with some structure, you're more likely to achieve your goals. 1. Identify areas where you'd like to improve . This first step will likely require some Inner Work®.

  12. Individual Development Planning

    IDP is a process you direct, in partnership with your manager, to enhance your professional growth by: Setting goals for professional development. Identifying ways to learn or improve in important competencies you will need now or in the future to achieve these goals. Identifying your strengths, talents and passions and planning ways to use ...

  13. Individual development plan examples: How to craft a roadmap to success

    These steps should be specific, tangible, and sequential. Allocate resources: Determine the resources required for development, such as training programs, workshops, courses, mentoring, or job rotations. Create a development plan: Summarize the goals, action steps, resources, and timelines in a structured document.

  14. 14 Individual Development Plan Examples & Templates

    3. Development activities: Identify activities - Think training courses, workshops or taking on new challenges - that will help you reach your goals. Create a timeline that's realistic considering your time and resources. Figure out what resources you need - financial support, time off or specific tools. 4.

  15. What is Personal Development and Why is it Important?

    Personal development is important because it helps you improve your self-awareness, build your skills and knowledge, increase your self-esteem, set and achieve personal and professional goals, and cultivate positive relationships. By investing in personal development, you can enhance your overall well-being, increase your chances of success ...

  16. Individual Development Plan (IDP) Best Practices & Tools for Postdocs

    Important Information about Discussing your IDP with your Mentor (PI): ... An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a graduate student- and postdoc-driven planning and assessment tool customized to each graduate student's or postdoctoral scholar's developmental stage and goals. When graduate students or postdocs complete an IDP, they receive ...

  17. Individual Development Plan: Definition, Template & Example

    An individual development plan is important for an organization and its employees because of the following reasons: Direction: IDPs encourage employees to have determination, focus, and purpose. Their job transforms from being a paycheck source to a step towards achieving their professional goals.

  18. How to Create an Effective Individual Development Plan for Your Career

    Why Incorporating IDPs into Your Career development is Important. In the past, IDPs were mainly used in online courses to help individuals improve their performance. Now, the use of IDPs in the workplace has become more prevalent. ... Example: Individual Development Plan for October 2022. Let's take a look at an example of an individual ...

  19. Professional Development Plan: What It Is and Why You Need One

    The Second Step: Setting Quality Goals. Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success. —Pablo Picasso. You need a goal, a vision, an end. Once you have a solid goal, you can work backward.

  20. What is an Individual Development Plan (IDP)?

    To put it simply, an Individual Development Plan (IDP) is an action plan that supports competency development. ... It is also important to understand that varying between the 3 learning types will allow different learning profiles to assimilate competencies - as some people learn better through repetition, others visually, and others through ...

  21. The Importance of Individual Development Plans -- Part I

    The Importance of Individual Development Plans -- Part I. Professional development plans begin with an employee's short term and, sometimes, their long-term goals too. In the plan, you may relate the needs of someone's current role with the needs of the desired future role. The first question to ask in fashioning a development plan is this:

  22. Individual Development Plans

    An individual development plan, or IDP, can help you answer this question. An IDP is a tool, created by you, to map and meet your career goals. In essence, it is a list of goals and objectives set to a specific timeline. The goals include those for your research project, for skills development, and for career planning. When discussed with and ...

  23. Combine Individual Development Plans with Mentoring for Success

    The Role of Individual Development Plans in Personal Growth. At the heart of an individual development plan is the idea of self-reflection. This means taking the time to assess your skills, strengths, and weaknesses, and identifying areas where you need to improve. But why is self-reflection so important?