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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

3. Identify “development actions” to address the needs

Here are the most common development actions, listed in order of developmental impact:

1. Move to a new job
2. Take on a challenging assignment within your current job
3. Learn from someone else (your manager, a coach, a subject matter expert or role model)
4. Get educated on the topic: take a course, read up on the topic

Sometimes, if you aspire to a larger role, the most important step in your development plan is to identify the role or roles to take in order to get you ready, often a lateral move. However, given that job changes are significant and don’t happen all that often, a challenging assignment is usually the best way to develop a competency or competencies. It’s those “stretch assignments” that force us to perform, learn, and have the most impact. The other advantage of a developmental assignment is that they combine real work with development. Otherwise, an IDP can become an “extra” thing to do when you have time, and of course, never gets done.

Then, once that project is identified, identify people that can help you learn the new skills required to be successful with that project (the same skills identified in step 2). For example, if that new project is going to require you to lead change, find 2-3 people that are really good at leading change and go talk to them. An internal or external coach may be able to help with tough to learn attributes, like relationship building. A mentor can often help you develop political acumen, or organizational agility.

Finally, identify any courses, books, or websites on the topics you want to learn.

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