Individual Development Plans: Employee & Employer Road Map to Success
What’s An Individual Development Plan (IDP)?
An IDP should be a living or dynamic document created by an individual employee as a self-development plan over a period of time, usually one year. The plan is a living document as it is continually updated and edited and should never remain static. It should contain an overarching goal with corresponding sub-goals and objectives for each sub-goal. The use of a logic model is helpful in evaluating a plan’s effectiveness; specifically it is used to demonstrate the logical relationships between the resources/tools one will need and use, activities that will be undertaken, and outputs and outcomes of the plan.
The purpose of creating a logic model is to assess the causal relationships between the elements of the plan, i.e., it looks at the contingency planning of “if/then.” If these resources are available, then these activities can be implemented; if these activities can be done, then these will be the outputs and outcomes of the IDP. A Gantt chart also has great utility for its graphic depiction of a project schedule that includes start and finish dates for the sub-goals and objectives that will make the overarching goal achievable. Gantt charting also shows the dependency or precedence network relationships between activities along the time continuum for goal achievement, denoting milestones along the way.
Once the writing of the IDP has been completed it should be discussed with a supervisor and/or mentor to match individual employee goals with organizational goals. A discussion of the different options and approaches to achieve the plan should also occur at this time. The Gantt chart should include at what points in time the IDP is reviewed to check progress, while tweaking and updating of the document should be continuous. At the end of the IDP period (e.g., one year) the plan is reviewed to assess goal fulfillment and plan for the new goals for the next plan or year. The contents of the IDP will vary; some employees focus on areas of opportunity, while others focus on their strengths. It is recommended to do both; to focus on competency areas that require further development as well as those competencies that are well developed, but have room for stretching one’s capacity to achieve depth and growth. Short versus long-term goals are also a factor to consider in developing the plan. The most salient component of any worthy IDP is that the employee have firm, solid, total and complete ownership of the content of their plan. The IDP is an employee manifesto for their goals and desired accomplishments and as such it should be treated as a personal mission statement in a professional context.
Strategies for Managing Employee Performance
For effective talent management, organizations need to implement performance feedback systems that promote constructive coaching and training. While preestablished programs may be useful, they are often generic and do not address the performance management needs of all organizations, nor of individual employees. Our experts understand that your non-profit or business has unique performance goals, and we know that you need a customizable performance feedback system that monitors what matters most to your organization.
Reviewing human capital and performance starts with identifying goals for every employee. By establishing measurable performance goals that are closely tied to organizational goals, conducting employee appraisals can be more effective. The benefits of the IDP are many; it assists with employees maintaining the current required level of job proficiency via continuous training and development. New skills, knowledge and therefore abilities emerge as one pursues their goal. The IDP supports the organizational goals and mission. There are, of course, the additional benefits of pride in one’s mastery; job satisfaction; increased productivity, morale and clarity of responsibilities; overall effectiveness of workforce; superb time management and workload planning skills; and self-management and appraisal. The IDP also has the value added benefit of improved competency for your organizational succession planning. Creation of annual Individual Development Plans is a road map to a win-win destination for both employers and the employees.
Improving Performance by Exploring 360-Degree Feedback
Our consultants design systems that encourage a complete approach. While self-assessment and feedback from next level management is important, exploring feedback from peers, clients, and subordinates is also essential. Feedback from all groups shows a more accurate view of each employee’s performance levels. 360-degree feedback, or multi-rater feedback, can be a highly effective performance feedback tool; however, it must be executed well using some very important guidelines and parameters. When considering the factors for success or failure, it is clear that this feedback method’s pros far outweigh its cons, as any deleterious outcomes can be mitigated by optimal planning and execution. A primary advantage of this full circle feedback model is to provide employees with information concerning their performance from multiple perspectives. With the employees as the foci of this evaluation process, the “under the microscope effect” can become a bit daunting; hence it is imperative to handle sharing of this feedback with extreme care.
It is not a best practice to tie 360-degree feedback to merit increases or promotions when this feedback tool is used as a standalone without follow-up or other assessment tools. One would be wise to ensure that the tracing of specific feedback to specific individuals is an impossibility. Additionally, this feedback model should not be used as a counseling or corrective action tool – this has the effect of demoralizing the employee. Often, managers wish to collect information from as many sources as possible; however, an excessive number of feedback surveys can result in intangible, randomized feedback. This feedback may not be detailed nor specific enough to the individual being assessed. Assessments should be collected via surveys from those who work or interact closely with the employee. Ideally, the 360-degree feedback tool is indeed an assessment for professional development and growth as opposed to an evaluation.