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The Ultimate Individual Development Plan (IDP) Guide

What is an Individual Development Plan (IDP)?

An Individual Development Plan (IDP) identifies an employee’s development goals in the context of the Department of the Interior’s Strategic Plan. An IDP contains training, education, and development activities to acquire or enhance the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to maximize job performance. This helps to ensure that staff are prepared to carry out their responsibilities and contribute to the bureau’s mission by helping them learn new skills, refresh old skills, and make use of emerging technologies.

An IDP gives managers/supervisors and employees an opportunity to:

  1. Establish objectives that support both the unit’s and employee’s needs and goals
  2. Create a clear guide for employees to help them work toward career goals and for supervisors to channel the employee’s efforts in ways that help the unit achieve its goals and mission
  3. Organize and set priorities for development experiences that will help an employee:
    • Learn new skills to improve current job performance
    • Increase interest, satisfaction, and challenge in their current position
    • Obtain knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to reach career goals that are aligned with DOI’s strategic goals
    • Prepare for increased responsibility

An IDP is NOT:

  • A performance plan or appraisal
  • A promise of promotion—the IDP does not guarantee advancement upon completion of the developmental objectives, but does increase the employee’s ability to compete for future jobs as he or she develops skills
  •  A binding document—when the supervisor and employee sign the IDP, it is simply an indication of intention and support for the employee’s development

IDP Resources

There is no universal IDP form which enables you and your employer to craft an IDP that works well for you both. Below you’ll find a list of resources, toolkits, and IDP examples to guide you.

  • Digital IDP Tool: Provides links to video tutorials, help topics, and examples on writing IDP goals, objectives, and activities. Also possesses reporting capabilities.
  • IDP Guide: Provides information pertaining to the IDP planning process, questions for both supervisors and employees to consider prior to drafting an IDP, types of developmental activities, and more.
  • IDP Workshop for Supervisors: Watch a recorded webinar from the 2017 Virtual Conference for Supervisors which provides an overview of IDPs.
  • IDP Fulfillment Grant Program – NER Only: Awards grants to advance developmental goals as annotated on an employee’s approved IDP.
  • OPM’s Training and Development Policy Wiki: Provides a list of other agencies’ IDP templates and resources and training opportunities related to IDP development.

Additional Information

Need help? Contact your regional Employee Development Officer for more information.

Alaska Region: Oliver Dillard
Intermountain Region: Laura Chavers
Midwest Region: Lynda Orbik
National Capital Region: Erin Noojibail
Northeast Region: Dominic Cardea
Southeast Region: Kimberlee Suber
Washington Support Office: Brigitte Keels

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