What Is Individual Development Planning?

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  • Written By: M. McGee
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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Individual development planning is a method used by workers to lay out their own particular desires for improvement and growth over an upcoming period. In most cases, an employee will write up an individual development plan (IDP) that outlines what he believes are his most important improvement points for the next stretch of time, usually one year. The worker will then meet with his boss to discuss his individual development planning strategy, see how his goals coincide with corporate plans and figure out how the company can assist him in the best possible way.

The key word in individual development planning is "individual." Each worker defines his own IDP based on what he feels are his own strengths and weaknesses. The goal of individual development planning is improving on weaknesses while playing up strengths. This is a delicate balance, so it is likely that the IDP will have at least one person higher up that the writer look it over before implementation. Even though it is supervised, the worker should try to make the plan as specific to him as possible; using an IDP as a method if ingratiation will often harm the writer’s overall growth.


When discussing an IDP, a supervisor will likely hit on three key points. The most important point is the growth of the worker. Not only does this make the individual a more well-rounded employee, but it makes him more valuable to the company as a whole. By improving upon the strengths of the worker, that person is more capable in a wider range of situations. This gives a department coverage over the widest area with the fewest employees.

The next common point in an individual development planning meeting is a discussion of the goals of the company. While personal growth is great, it does a company very little good if it is in an area that provides it with no benefit. This stage of the meeting allows the employee and the supervisor to discuss how the worker’s growth could be channeled most effectively for the company.

The last major component of an individual development planning strategy meeting takes the information from the last two phases and brings it into the practical world. In this stage, the boss and worker look at upcoming situations where the company can help the worker along with the IDP. For example, a worker may wish to work on leadership and planning skills. The boss would look towards upcoming projects where the worker could be an assistant to a skilled team leader. The year may culminate with the worker being given his own project to supervise.


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