Career development planning benefits the individual employee as well as the organization by aligning employee training and development efforts with the organization’s mission, goals, and objectives. An individual development plan (IDP) is a tool to assist employees in achieving their personal and professional development goals. IDPs help employees and supervisors set expectations for specific learning objectives and competencies. While an IDP is not a performance evaluation tool or a one-time activity, IDPs allow supervisors to clarify performance expectations. IDPs should be viewed as a partnership between an employee and their supervisor, and involves preparation and continuous feedback. Many agencies require IDPs for new and current employees, and encourage employees to update them annually.
When using an IDP, supervisors develop a better understanding of their employees’ professional goals, strengths, and development needs. Employees take personal responsibility and accountability for their career development, acquiring or enhancing the skills they need to stay current in their roles. 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, although many employee and leadership development programs require IDPs (e.g. PMF Program). Completing IDPs 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 – supervisor and employee signature and date
For more information on IDPs and to view IDP templates, please visit the OPM Training and Development Wiki.
Executive Development Plans
While there are no regulatory requirements for IDPs, Senior Executive Service (SES) members are required to have a plan for their continued training and development. Under 5 CFR 412.401, all Senior Executives must complete and regularly update an Executive Development Plan (EDP).
Facing constant challenges, changing technologies, and a dynamic environment, executives must pursue ongoing professional executive development to succeed and grow. It is crucial that executives continue to strengthen and enhance their Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs), broaden their perspectives, and strengthen their performance.
Federal agencies are required by law (Title 5, U.S. Code, Section 3396) to establish programs for the continuing development of senior executives.
SES members are required to prepare, implement, and regularly update an EDP as specified by 5 CFR 412.401. The Executive Development Plan (EDP) is a key tool in assisting executives in their continued development. EDPs should outline a senior executive’s short-term and long-term developmental activities which will enhance the executive’s performance. These activities should meet organizational needs for leadership, managerial improvement, and results.
EDPs should be reviewed annually and revised as appropriate by an Executive Resources Board or similar body designated by the agency to oversee executive development. OPM has developed a sample EDP template for agencies to reference when developing their own EDP form. You can find the sample template and other information on EDPs on the Training and Development Wiki.
If you have any questions regarding training policy or executive development, you can contact the Training and Executive Development Group by sending an email to HRDLeadership@opm.gov.