After completing your assessment you will discover several desirable career paths to explore and it’s time to develop your Individual Development Plan (IDP). IDPs are designed for federal employees who want to improve performance in their current position, develop skills/abilities that could enhance their promotion potential in their career field or another career field, or prepare them for managerial/supervisory positions.
An IDP is a written plan and schedule designed to meet employee’s particular developmental goals. They provide a systematic method of planning for training and gaining experience in order to develop specific skills and knowledge needed to meet your short and long term career goals.
IDPs will be used by you and your supervisor to plan training and related developmental experiences (details, special projects, on-the-job training (OJT), etc.). They can change from year to year, and their primary purpose is to help you establish reasonable goals, assess your particular strengths, and evaluate progress relative to those goals.
IDPs are not mandatory except for certain supervisory and development programs including perspective Senior Executive Service (SES) applicants. However, all agencies encourage employees to participate in the IDP process. It is, however, required that supervisors advise, discuss, and participate in the development of IDPs with their employees who do not specifically decline it. Supervisors also:
The following steps will help you develop a realistic career development plan. You already completed some of the steps in the first three chapters.
Evaluate the following areas:
Agency Needs (Examples)
|Use a daily planner or desktop planner to track your progress. Annotate your key IDP review dates and scheduled activities. Successful people PLAN to get ahead. Expand this feature to your daily activities as well. When you write something down, check it off when completed, it gives you a sense of accomplishment. There are many electronic planners available including planning software packaged with most cell phones.|
The IDP allows you to chart and plan your development over the next several years. According to each person’s goals and how those goals fit into your agency’s plans and programs, the IDP will help you and your supervisors establish specific training and experience to help you achieve your goals. This process affords supervisors the opportunity to understand and support employee goals and how they can complement the organization. Employees and supervisors can use the IDP Worksheet to develop a comprehensive and workable plan that both can support.
Once you inform your supervisor of your intent to develop an IDP, each supervisor shall:
Both the supervisor and employee are now ready for the employee/ supervisor discussion. The discussion is very important because it gives the both of you an opportunity to jointly discuss the needs and goals of the organization and where the employees’ skills fit in. As a result of this discussion, the employee with input from the supervisor will develop the IDP.
Ask yourself these questions about your current position before meeting with your supervisor. Be honest and candid. This is for your benefit and the answers to these questions will help you prepare for the supervisory discussion.
During the discussion the employee and supervisor shall:
A goal for the purposes of the IDP is something pertinent to your work and your career that you see as worthwhile to strive for, either the improvement or mastery of some skill in your current job, a new responsibility in your current job, or the attainment of some other position. Goals should be realistic and attainable, your goals should imply some work and challenge, but shouldn’t be set on something so high that getting there will be almost impossible. In preparing goal statements, be as specific as possible. For example:
You must develop a plan that has a reasonable chance of attaining these goals. Realistic goals include consideration of:
Don’t worry about differentiating between knowledge, skill, or ability. Generally, a skill pertains to a physical competence or physically doing something; a knowledge pertains to mastery of a subject matter area; while an ability pertains to the potential of using a knowledge or skill when needed. Describe objectives in terms of KSAs.
You should work with your supervisor to prioritize the KSAs required to attain your goals. The advantage of this approach is that you will have the benefit of a second opinion regarding your strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, your supervisor may be very helpful in assisting you to determine what the most valued KSAs are for a particular position or career path.
Once you have the important KSAs you need, you can decide on a plan of action. You have some control now, you know whether the training or experience is going to meet a specific need. You can ask, is this training going to provide me with the knowledge (or skill)?
This form is available online at https://www.fedcareerinfo.com and is used for your Individual Development Plan. Our IDP workbook titled Take Charge of Your Federal Career; A Practical, Action-Oriented Career Management Workbook for Federal Employees is also available.
Download Personal Goals Worksheet (Word Doc)
Before completing the following Developmental Worksheets you need to be aware of the alternatives that are available to you. There are many options other than formal training courses and often people learn better if their training includes a variety of learning experiences. Alternative training can be a good, if not a better, way to learn required skills efficiently. Budget and time constraints, as well as your particular needs, make it undesirable to limit yourself to formal training.
Once you’ve isolated your goals and identified needed KSAs, see how many of these KSAs can be gained via alternative developmental assignments. Include alternative training resources to maximum your learning experience. You may be surprised; excellent training is often obtained in unexpected ways right in your own organization.
Initiative is evident when the employee does that which is necessary to achieve their goals. Joining an Employee Participation Group, Human Relations Committee or participating in facility collateral assignments, displays initiative. Participating in these activities is an excellent way to enhance many of the skills needed for career enhancement. Following are some suggested activities that you may take to pursue or participate in activities that will help your self-development efforts:
Discussion between you and your supervisor may quickly identify apparent developmental assignment and training opportunities. In other cases, the supervisor should suggest an approach that he/she believes would satisfy the short and/or long-term goals of the employee.