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Employee & Leadership Development

Individual Development Planning
"The Road to Success"

Individual development planning will lead you down the road to success.

What is an Individual Development Plan (IDP)? An IDP is a written schedule or plan which describes your immediate and long-term goals. It is a tool to help you organize your plans for training and development in order to learn new skills, acquire additional knowledge or sharpen current expertise.

As a minimum, once a year within 30 days of your annual performance evaluation, you and your supervisor must meet to discuss your goals and accomplishments and develop an IDP. This meeting gives you both the opportunity to set objectives and plan learning experiences that will support them.

What makes a goal? A goal is something pertinent to your work and your career that you see worthwhile to pursue:

  • improvement or mastery of some skill that will help you in your current job

  • ability to perform a new responsibility in your current job or future assignment

A goal should be realistic, should require some work and challenge, but should not be set so high as to be unreachable.

How to identify KSAs? A good way to identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) of your present position is to look at your position description and performance plan. Write down the official duties of your current position or new assignment and select a particular duty or duties you need to develop or acquire.

The KSAs give a clear outline for planning your training and development. Once you have identified your KSAs, you will be in a position to decide on what training courses are needed and/or alternative methods necessary to acquire them.

It is important to describe your developmental objectives on the IDP form (ARS-48) in the column labeled "Performance Related Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities."

The 3 step process:

  • Preparation

    Before discussing your IDP with your supervisor, you should assess your strengths and weaknesses relative to the duties of your job. Take the opportunity to consider your goals and how you see yourself in the organization. Identify your objectives and the developmental opportunities needed to help you meet them.

    We often think in terms of formal training courses. However, we learn best when training includes a variety of learning experiences. Consider the investment of time and money required for each experience and pursue other alternatives. A list of formal training opportunities and developmental work experiences are provided below.

  • Meet with your supervisor

    You should discuss every aspect of the plan thoroughly. Your supervisor may provide information on the Agency's long-and short-range plans, staffing needs, and the need for particular skills. You should also be provided feedback on your strengths, weaknesses, and goals you have identified. Your supervisor will consider your workload, availability of funds, and relevance of the training courses to your current or future duties or assignments.
  • Implementation

    After you and your supervisor have agreed on a training plan, the next step is to schedule the actual training activities. The IDP is flexible and unexpected situations can interfere with training plans. Also, events can arise that require unforeseen training.

As you complete each training activity, discuss it with your supervisor and address how it has applied to your job. The IDP is a living document not a contract. Modifications can and will be made based on assignment priorities, budget or time constraints, and your desire for personal growth.

Training options:

Formal training:

  • Instructor-led workshops
  • Government/private sector
  • Conferences/seminars

On-the-job training (OJT):

  • Detail, developmental assignments
  • Mentor/coach
  • Shadowing a subject-matter expert
  • Projects/task force/committees
  • Cross-training
  • Studying manuals/bulletins
  • On-line training

Self-development activities:

  • Independent reading
  • Audio/video cassette programs
  • Correspondence courses
  • Community/civic activities
  • Professional associations

For additional information about training and development visit our web site: http://www.afm.ars.usda.gov/hrd/empdev/

(08-26-02)


 

Last Updated: 08/26/2002

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