Using development plans to drive performance

IDPIndividual development plans (IDPs) can be an essential tool for driving high performance.  According to the federal Office of Personnel Management, professional development planning is an ongoing process to ensure that employees stay current, if not one step ahead, of their fields and their core competencies.

Formal IDPs can:

  • Encourage employees to take ownership of their career development
  • Promote conversation between supervisors and staff about current and future career opportunities
  • Provide tools for identifying and tracking development goals
  • Help leaders plan development activities for their units

As leaders, we can use the IDP process to support performance for our staff and also to discuss goals with our own managers.  In both cases, key steps include:

  1. Identify business needs.  How will completion of your IDP make you a better employee?  Whether you want to grow in your current role or move to an entirely different position, your plan should align with the institutional mission and goals. A friend once reminded me that IDPs that aren’t tied to organizational interests aren’t work – they are a hobby.
  2. Identify knowledge and skills you need to meet the business needs. What do you know already?  What is needed in the next year? In the next five years?  Where are the gaps?
  3. Create specific plans to close the gaps. Think broadly about options. Maybe you don’t need to attend a class; it might be better to spend a day shadowing someone who does the task you want to learn. List 3-5 things you can do in the next year, with action items and deadlines.
  4. Seek your manager’s support.  Each employee is the driver of his or her development plan, but managers play a critical role. Think about the knowledge and resources that will help you complete your plan and ask for what you need.
  5. Follow up. Best practice for most MnSCU employees is to have a formal IDP meeting once a year, often associated with the annual performance review. Consider scheduling quarterly follow-up meetings, or more often if you need direct manager involvement. Remember that it’s an ongoing process. Next year’s plan should be based on a review of what you accomplished this year.

Dee Anne Bonebright




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