Sana’s been working as an executive assistant for five years now. After a few bumpy months, she’s been feeling burned out. She wants to improve her prospects by working on her communication skills. Sana sometimes struggles when writing emails and letters. She also wants to develop her presentation design skills to take her career to the next level.

Her manager suggests she work on a plan for personal development, also known as an individual development plan.

An individual development plan or IDP is a template designed for personal growth. It’s a document that helps improve employee performance, skills and knowledge. Individual development plans for employees focus on personal improvement. They can include gaining skills to progress at work. They can also improve personal skills such as communication, leadership, negotiating, self-confidence, time management and decision making. An individual development plan will help improve upon an employee’s overall performance by helping them work on their weaknesses. It provides a framework for them to practice skills they need to become an expert.

Let’s take a closer look.


  1. Examples Of An Individual Development Plan

  2. Why Individual Development Plans For Employees Make Sense

  3. Importance Of Individual Development Plan For Managers

  4. Components Of A Personal Development Plan

  5. Determining Goals For An Individual Development Plan


Examples Of An Individual Development Plan


The first step for Sana to create her plan for personal development is introspecting on her goals. This is what she puts down:


My goal is to develop my written communication skills by improving my ability to write emails and letters, as well as by learning how to write reports more effectively. I also want to improve my presentation skills to communicate certain messages effectively and efficiently. I am committed to this action plan and this will give me the chance to identify where I may need guidance and help.

After creating this vision statement privately, Sara creates an action plan upon discussion with her manager:

I can take steps to improve in these areas through training courses and mindful practice. I will take a balanced approach to this plan to develop at a sustainable rate that prioritizes my family time and health as well.

With this clear path for progress, Sara is confident she’ll succeed.


Why Individual Development Plans For Employees Make Sense


Careers can sometimes go off track. The pace of change can be difficult to keep up with and employees can come up short in certain areas. Without a personal development plan for employees, they may flounder. Here are some key ways in which crafting one can help:


1. It Prompts Learning

An IDP is more than just a workbook. It’s a guide to help employees achieve their professional goals. It can be used to improve personal skills, such as communication, leadership, negotiation, time management and decision-making. By creating a safe space for introspection, the plan allows employees to think through where they are and where they’d like to be. If they have a specific career goal, an IDP will help them reach it.


2. It Helps Take Stock

Learning new lessons through experience is crucial in order to progress in our careers. A personal development plan for employees is an excellent tool for tracking this. Reviewing past personal development plans is a great way to ensure that learning and growth goals are being met in a timely manner.


3. It Turns Weaknesses Into Strengths

A plan for personal development is a systematic process that helps you work on your weaknesses so they become strengths. This plan will allow employees to develop new skills while also helping improve their technical knowledge and practical abilities. We can use the IDP as a tool to help improve and grow. It’s a method for providing and receiving constructive feedback.


When made properly, personal development plans can help motivate team members. It highlights how far they’ve come and how far they’d like to go.


Importance Of Individual Development Plan For Managers


Managers face several challenges in the workplace. Motivating the team sometimes can be one of them. In a rapidly changing environment, it’s difficult to motivate employees to improve their skills and knowledge. Particularly in a high-stress environment. Employees avoid developing their skills, as it takes time away from them to perform their primary function. By using a plan for personal development, managers allow employees time and space to develop.


Components Of A Personal Development Plan


An IDP can be a solo exercise, or an employee can conduct it with a manager’s participation. In either case, an IDP comprises the following components:


  1. Personal development statement:

    This is a short essay that describes what the individual wants to achieve through the IDP. It describes why they need an IDP in the first place, and what they plan to get out of it.

  2. Goals and objectives:

    This is the focal point of completing a plan for personal development. Employees can chart out where they want to improve. This can be done with a manager or alone. The goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound or SMART.

  3. Action plan:

    This maps the steps and activities that’ll help achieve the goals and objectives. All the steps needed for developing new skills to improve should be outlined here. Once again, every action should be achievable, realistic and time-bound, as this is how progress will be measured later on.

  4. Self-assessment:

    This is a tool employees can use to measure their progress. It’ll also show where guidance or help might be needed.

  5. Manager feedback:

    If the IDP is being developed with management, this feedback is crucial to establishing whether they have achieved the goals at the end of the period.


A vaguely written plan is a recipe for stagnation and failure. The document need not be extensive, but it needs to be incisive. The accuracy with which goals are identified and the roadmap charted will decide the impact of the exercise.


Determining Goals For An Individual Development Plan


An IDP works on the strength of the goals defined. The more realistic and measurable they are, the more is to be gained. It’ll enable both employee and manager to keep track of progress and ensure that it’s in line with expectations.

Setting time frames for goals is important, as it provides a timeline for completing tasks or objectives. The actual time frame varies from person to person. It’ll depend on such factors as the complexity of the goals, the level of expertise that’s required to achieve them and the level of support that is provided. An individual development plan is a useful way for managers to help employees achieve success. It helps employees understand what they’re expected to do to improve their performance.

Let’s look at another example of a personal development plan.

Rafiq has achieved several objectives during his career so far and wants to continue on his trajectory. He wants to take action to improve in leadership, decision making and communication skills.

Rafiq’s goal: I want to continue developing my skills by learning new ways of thinking and problem-solving in order to develop my strengths. I also want to improve other areas of communication, teamwork and decision making. This will enable me to develop my leadership potential, which I believe is a strength of mine.

Rafiq’s action plan: I will identify the skills that need improving and ask for feedback from my manager on how I can improve upon these areas of operation. This will give me the chance to identify where I may need guidance and assistance. I will commit myself to this action plan as we have agreed that my manager can play an active role in helping me achieve these improvements.

To sum up, an IDP provides a way for employees to understand the skills that are necessary for their career progression. It helps them understand where they need development in order to achieve success. They can use an IDP to communicate development needs between an employee and their employer. Further, it can help organizations understand what their employees are looking for and what their goals are so they can support them more efficiently.

It’s important that the IDP is monitored by a manager and any progress noted. This gives a chance for adjustments to be made if the plan isn’t working out as expected. We can also use an IDP as a tool that helps in assessments, interviews for a promotion or a new job to explain what their personal and professional growth trajectory has been.

Hand holding employees through their own growth journey isn’t a simple task. It’s something that can be learned with experience. What can also help is a solid foundation in certain managerial skills. That’s the kind of usable input learners receive in Harappa’s First Time Manager Program. It’s ideal for employees with a few years of experience transitioning into managerial roles for the first time. It concentrates on the Thrive Skills needed to get the job done with excellence. Giving constructive feedback, mentoring and coaching others, defining roles and expectations are a few of the focus areas that’ll help them undertake a task as important as a plan for personal development. Being a team player and leader are skills that can be learned and this program is the place to start.

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Personal Development, Career Development, How To Develop Personality and What Is Mentoring that will help organizations tap into employee potential.

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