Individual Development Plan (IDP) Process for Supervisors

Individual Development Plan Process for Supervisors

Supervisors have the chance to help their employees grow, learn new skills, and progress to the next steps on their career path. As a supervisor you are uniquely positioned to help people achieve their career goals, but you can't help if you don't know what those goals are.

The Individual Development Plan (IDP) process gives you a structured way to talk with employees about their next steps for improvement. IDPs are not mandatory, but they provide a helpful tool for talking with employees about the future. These conversations can help you plan for the future of your own team, delegate tasks to develop your staff, and improve work quality within your team.

Frequently Asked questions

    An IDP is a list of career related goals with a list of steps to reach them. Those goals may range from improving performance within their current position, progressing to a higher position within their current career track, or changing career tracks entirely.

    For Example

    Your employee might share that their career goals include progressing to a higher GS grade level and moving into a subspecialty of their field.

    Having identified these goals, you and your employee can clarify the steps necessary to achieve these goals. In this example the employee would need to acquire a bachelor’s degree to progress to a higher GS grade level and acquire both a certification and on the job training to move into their desired subspecialty. You recommend to your employee that they would also benefit from improved business writing skills.

    Based on this discussion, your employee’s IDP notes might look something like this:

    • Move to higher GS
      • College degree (BA)
    • Specialize
      • Certificate Program
      • On the job training
    • Improve writing skills
      • LMS Classes

    These notes will help your employee define where they want to go, and help you understand how to support them in their progress towards achieving their goals. As their supervisor you are in a position to arrange on-the-job training by putting the employee on a new work team or assigning them a specific task. In the above example, you might help them improve their business writing skills by asking them to review or edit documents, or give them a chance to practice those skills by having them write up meeting minutes to share with the team.

    The Cornerstone On-Demand (CSOD) system creates a more sophisticated and shareable version of an Individual Development Plan. It allows employees to set short term, mid-range, and long-term goals. Each goal can contain any number of online courses, job development activities, or other training options. An Individual Development Plan built within the Cornerstone On-Demand System is automatically shared with the employee’s supervisor and is always stored in the online system. When an employee completes a CSOD class, their IDP will update automatically. For outside tasks or trainings, a certificate can be uploaded into the system.

    Not every employee will want to create an IDP, and while they are encouraged IDPs are not mandatory. If your employees have objections to the IDP process or don’t want to document their plans in the CSOD system, they are not required to. IDPs are a tool to help employees; and the implementation of an IDP may help them get approvals for future training, but they are not a necessity.

    An IDP is not a performance evaluation tool or a one-time activity. Its primary purpose is to help employees reach short and long-term career goals, as well as improve current job performance. It should be looked at like a partnership between the employee and the supervisor. It involves preparation and continuous feedback. An IDP should never be included as a standard element for formal appraisal. Learn more about IDPs on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Training and Development Policy Wiki.

    DoDEA benefits when our workforce continues to learn and improve. When an employee wants to progress in their career, it is in the best interest of DoDEA to help make that happen. Employees do their best work when in a position that most closely aligns with their interests, and it therefore benefits DoDEA to help match employees with those positions, and to help employees develop their experience and skillsets accordingly.

    Individual Development Plans help employees codify their goals and articulate the specific steps necessary to achieve those goals. IDPs also help supervisors better understand their employees needs and interests and enables them to empower their employees’ success.

    Supervisors are encouraged to delegate tasks to employees, when appropriate, if that task would help an employee progress towards achieving the goals articulated in their IDP.

    Performance appraisal season presents a natural opportunity to ask about an employee’s goals. As you discuss the ways in which they excelled in the last year, you can ask if they find that work interesting or want to do more to develop those skills. If employees received less than outstanding ratings, you could suggest opportunities to improve via their IDP. Supervisors can also ask how employees saw their work, what tasks interested them the most, and how they see the next year going.

    Talking with employees about the future isn’t always easy. The DoDEA Capabilities & Initiatives Division has created a playlist of short online courses that may help if you’re having trouble. You can find it by searching “Communications for Supervisors.”

    IDP templates allow a supervisor to define the skills, certifications, and experiences that a typical employee would have in a job role. For example, an office administrator would need to know how to use MS Office Suite to improve organizational efficiency, an IT specialist needs to know how to troubleshoot problems with these programs, and an educator needs to know how to apply these programs to build students' skills. Creating a list of what an employee will need to succeed within a position gives employees hoping to move into that position a clear checklist of skills to learn and helps to frame further development conversations between the supervisor and the employee. To create a template in the system, contact the LMS Admin team with your list of the development tasks (skills and abilities) and the position title.

    Supervisor Task Aid

    Task Aid Shows Supervisors How to:

    • Review any Individual Development Plan (IDP) for members of your team
    • Create an IDP and add a development objective for a team member
    • Add learning or training / development actions to an employee development objective
    • Choose whether to assign the IDP as the primary plan for the employee
    • Save an employee IDP as draft or submit the plan


    Download the Supervisor Task Aid
    IDP Employee Lifecycle Illustration

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