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Individual Development Plan

An individual development plan (IDP) is a tool to assist employees in career and personal development. Its primary purpose is to help employees reach short and long-term career goals, as well as improve current job performance. An IDP is not a performance evaluation tool or a one-time activity. It should be looked at like a partnership between the employee and the supervisor. It involves preparation and continuous feedback. Many agencies require IDPs for new and current employees. It is encouraged throughout many organizations. Many Federal agencies require their employees to complete an IDP, annually. All Senior Executives are required to have an Executive Development Plan (EDP) (5 CFR 412.401).

Below are examples of agencies which have implemented IDPs, sample IDPs, and additional resources.

Solve Problems

(How can I utilize an IDP in my agency?)

Individual development planning benefits the organization by aligning employee training and development efforts with its mission, goals, and objectives. When using an IDP, supervisors develop a better understanding of their employees' professional goals, strengths, and development needs resulting in more realistic staff and development plans. Employees take personal responsibility and accountability for their career development, acquiring or enhancing the skills they need to stay current in required skills. Some of the benefits of an IDP are:

  • Provide an administrative mechanism for identifying and tracking development needs and plans
  • Assist in planning for the agency's training and development requirements
  • Align employee training and development efforts with its mission, goals, and objectives

There are no regulatory requirements mandating employees complete IDPs within the Federal Government. However, it is considered good management practice, and many agencies have developed their own IDP planning process and forms. While there is no one "correct" form for recording an employee's development plan, an effective plan should include at minimum the following key elements:

  • Employee profile - name, position title, office, grade/pay band
  • Career goals - short-term and long-term goals with estimated and actual competion dates
  • Development objectives - linked to work unit mission/goals/objectives and employee's development needs and objectives
  • Training and development opportunities - activities in which the employee will pursue with estimated and actual completion dates. These activities may include formal classroom training, web-based training, rotational assignments, shadowing assignments, on-the-job training, self-study programs, and professional conferences/seminars
  • Signatures - supevisor and employee signature and date

Federal agencies are required by law (5 U.S.C. Section 3396) to establish programs for the continuining development of Senior Executives. A key tool in this process is the Executive Development Plan (EDP). Please visit our Executive Development wiki page.

How do you go about developing an IDP?

The IDP process requires communication and interaction between the supervisor and employee. It involves five phases:

  1. Pre-Planning - supervisor and employee prepare independently for meeting
  2. Employee/Supervisor Meeting - discuss employee strengths, areas for improvement, interests, goals, and organizational requirements
  3. Prepare IDP - employee, in consultation with supervisor, completes plan for individual development
  4. Implement Plan - employee pursues training and development identified in plan
  5. Evaluate Outcomes - supervisor/employee evaluate usefulness of training and development experiences

Supervisors and employees work together to complete the employee's development plan, however, employees are ultimately responsible for taking the initiative for their professional development. Below are examples of activities one may utilize for further development and incorporate into their plan:

  • Formal Training - OPM offers formal training at its Management Development Centers and Federal Executive Institute. There are also other formal training centers available to employees outside OPM
  • 360 Degree Feedback - 360 degree feedback is a widely used method and tool to assist in identifying strengths and developmental needs. OPM offers 360 degree survey services as do other organizations
  • Mentoring and Coaching - mentoring and coaching are effective tools for personal and leadership development. For more information, go to our Mentoring-and-Coaching
  • Rotational/Detail Assignments - employees may have the option to participate in details, special/short-term assignments, projects, and other creative ways to expose employees to challenges or otherwise expand their capacity to serve

Stay Current

(How are other organizations using the IDP?)

Below is a list of agencies that have implemented an IDP program and/or template. There are also several agencies that have individual development planning and career management programs in place. Please not that OPM does not endorse any particular format. The information below is for illustrative purposes.

IDP Templates:

Does your agency have an IDP template you find useful?

Find Opportunities

(Where can employees find training and development opportunities?)

Here a few agencies who provide resources and training to develop an IDP.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers a online course, Career Planning and the IDP (

Does your agency have IDP training?

Discover Helpful Tips and Resources

(What other tools and resources are available for me?)


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