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Tips - Guide your team members in an Individual Development Plan process

I recently worked with an organisation to design a process for their employees’ professional development. My focus was actually on both their career and personal development because understanding their interests and passions were the key to bring job motivations and satisfactions to the workplace as well as to their personal lives - feeling proud when they went back home everyday.

Employee development (or people development) is such an important part in the whole Human Resources Management process, which can actually be used at different stage(s) in the process.


So I brought in the idea of career development profile - a tool that I always used in career coaching process - and implemented a structured framework of Individual Development Plan (IDP) in the organisation. IDP's primary purpose is to guide employees reach short- and long-term career goals in the organisation, at the same time, we also emphasise personal growth such as values, passions, interests in the process. Having the IDP (the tool) ready, what about the users? This is a shared responsibility of the leader (manager) and the team member (employee). Still, leaders have the role to guide the employees to understand what they want, what they need, and what options they have. An IDP usually has four main discussion topics, let's see some questions and guidelines that you can use on each step.


Step 1 - Understand professional goals and motivations

  • ­What motivates and energises you at work?

  • ­What kinds of opportunities do you want in the future?

  • ­What opportunities exist in your current role that will help you develop and grow?

  • ­Where do your motivations and the needs of the organisation strongly align?

  • ­What do you want to learn and/or to prepare for?

Step 2 - Explore talents/strengths and development needs

  • ­What are your talents/strengths? ­

  • What are your passions, what do you love doing? ­

  • What are your areas to improve, or new areas to learn?

  • What are the areas people tell you that you are good at?

  • What do you feel proud of doing?

  • Tell me about your reflection of the PRISM report (or other assessment report).

Step 3 - Plan the development objectives

  • What different roles/teams that you would enjoy work in the organisation?

  • Share and discuss how the employee’s role is aligned with the department’s and the company’s goal: ­

  • Department headed - such as Greater efficiency, accomplish more with less effort­

  • Company headed - such as Product line expansion to increase growth, increase market share

  • Considering your current career situation and future aspirations, where should you focus your development?

  • What will your objectives be for this IDP? ­

  • Will your IDP include building capabilities, preparing for new opportunities, both? ­

  • Which of your strengths/talents will you use more often, or expand? ­

  • What development opportunities are important for you to focus on?

Step 4 - Prepare an action plan

  • How do you prioritise, with my support, in order to achieve your short- and long-term goals? ­

  • Do you remember what is SMART action steps?

  • Specific—can you clearly define the objective you want to accomplish?­

  • Measurable—how will you know when it’s complete?­

  • Attainable—is it realistic, based on your current skills and experience?­

  • Relevant—how does it directly contribute to the goal you and the organisation are pursuing?­

  • Time frame—can you accomplish it within a reasonable time period?

  • What is the specific action you will take to achieve this goal?

  • What is the specific learning and development activity for this goal?­

  • How do you see the goals and timelines, are they realistic?

  • How can I support you?

  • What other information you need at this stage?

  • How do you feel about this development plan?

  • Do you need sometime to read it through and finalise it?

  • Let's set up regular meetings to review progress until agreed action plan is completed.

  • What do you want to do next? first?

This list of questions is the "WHAT" to assist leaders/managers to have an effective conversation with their team members on the IDP process, it will not be successful without the "HOW" which is Trust. Trust takes a long time to build up day by day, by both parties, and it is a valuable investment. Please refer to our Tips and Tools to understand more about "How to ask to build trust". Finally, making the action happen is the real challenge of the IDP. Therefore regular review is very important for leaders to follow up with team members and guide them through challenges and celebrate their success.

IDP is not just a "homework" we do every year for our employees. As a leader, the purpose of using IDP is to understand more about our team members' potential and passions, making them feel proud of their work, bring home with pride, and back to the workplace with motivation.

#process #corporate #tipsandtools

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