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How To Create an Individual Development Plan (+Template)

How To Create an Individual Development Plan (+Template)

Whether you’ve been tasked with creating an individual development plan by your boss or have taken it upon yourself to create one as part of your career planning efforts, the good news is that you have come to the right place.

In the following article, you’ll not only find out exactly what an individual development plan is and its importance, but you’ll also learn how to write one, what to include in it, and how to get started in minutes with our fully editable development plan template.


What Is an Individual Development Plan?

An individual development plan (IDP), also referred to as a personal development plan or employee development plan, is a document that outlines the specific steps, resources, and support one needs to achieve a professional goal. According to Yale University, that goal is typically to “build a desired skill, better use existing talents, or prepare for a career goal.”

Typically, an individual development plan is created in collaboration with one’s direct leader and is a living document that evolves as one’s needs and circumstances do.


Create an actionable plan for your learning and development needs with our  Personal Development Plan Template!


Is It Worth It to Create an Individual Development Plan?

Individual development plans have been used in workplaces around the world for years and will continue to be for years to come. This is because tangible, written action plans help turn goals into reality. 

For example, Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University of California, conducted research that split respondents into five groups:

  • Group 1: Asked to think about their business-related goals
  • Group 2: Asked to write down those goals
  • Group 3: Asked to formulate an action plan for those goals
  • Group 4: Asked to formulate an action plan and send it to a supportive peer
  • Group 5: Asked to formulate an action plan, send it to a supportive peer, and send weekly progress reports to their peer

In the end, just 43% of the first group either accomplished their goals or were at least halfway there. Meanwhile, 62% of the fourth and 76% of the fifth groups achieved their goals or were at least halfway there. 

Moreover, an individual development plan can create a sense of purpose and meaning, provide motivation, and encourage a greater level of accountability. All of this is to say that individual development plans are worth the time and effort they take to create.


What Should Be Included In an Individual Development Plan?

When creating an individual development plan, you need to get specific about what it will take to achieve your goal. This means your individual development plan should include: 

  • Area of Development/Goal - A well-defined goal is key to creating a solid individual development plan. It should answer what you want to learn, improve, or achieve.

  • Expected Steps - Once you have defined your goal, it’s time to break down the steps you need to take to make it a reality. For example, if your individual development plan includes attending training, one step to capture in your plan is securing approval and funding.

  • Resources - As you outline the steps, you should identify the resources you will need to implement the plan, such as funding. This is also the place to note who you will need support from and what exactly it is you will need from them.

  • Priority - In addition to your individual development plan, you will have other goals, objectives, and priorities vying for your attention and effort. Therefore, you need to assign a priority, in terms of importance or urgency, to this plan.

  • Timeline - Finally, consider when you want or need to complete the steps outlined in your individual development plan. For example, if you assigned an urgent priority to the goal, then you might give the plan a tight timeline.

5 Things to Include In A Individual Development Plan - Niagara Institute


How Do You Write an Individual Development Plan?

If you have never written an individual development plan or are not given a template by your leader to work off of, you might be stalled getting started. To fix that and make writing an individual development plan much more manageable, we created a fully editable template you can use immediately. You can download the development plan template here.

Personal Development Plan Template

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