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How to Write a Great Individual Development Plan (IDP)

How to Write a Great Individual Development Plan (IDP)

Dan McCarthy

March 12, 2009

An individual development plan (IDP) is a tool that helps facilitate employee development. It’s a two-way commitment between an employee and their manager on what they are going to do to grow.

IDPs are often used as a way to drive leadership development. Organizations like them because they are visible, tangible evidence that leadership development is taking place. They can be monitored and tracked as a measure of progress, used as a way to drive accountability for development, and most importantly, if they are well written and taken seriously, they really do work.

I’ve written about the importance of written individual development plans (IDPs) for leadership development, and how to develop your leadership skills, but not how to actually write one.

I’ll draw on my experience from having helped hundreds of leaders write IDPs, using them for my own employees, as well as my personal experience with my own IDPs (rule number 1: if you’re going to help someone else write an IDP, you’d better have current one yourself).

How to Write a Great Individual Development Plan (IDP)

1. Start with a goal; have a reason to develop

There needs to be some kind of reason to develop. If there’s no reason to improve – or no motivation, then there’s no reason to have an IDP.

Here are the most typical reasons for an IDP:

· You’re new in a job, and want to get up to speed as fast as possible
· You’re struggling in your job, and want to improve
· You’d like to move to a new role, and want to prepare yourself for that new role
· You’re good at what you do, and have no immediate aspirations to move, but just want to get even better


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