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Your Individual Development Plan

Learn the benefits of an Individual Development Plan (IDP) and how to create one.

The Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a structured tool to use to take action towards achieving your professional and career goals. The IDP is one piece of your overall professional or career goals, identifying activities you can engage in to develop your knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies. 

Your Guide to Individual Development Planning (fillable PDF) packet has instructions and resources for creating your IDP. If you would like support with completing your IDP, Campus Human Resource’s Career Connection program offers IDP consultations. Contact to arrange an individual consultation.

Managers and supervisors supporting an employee's IDP process may also contact with questions or for help in identifying learning activities to populate those IDP’s.



What are the benefits of an IDP?

The IDP’s primary purpose is to help employees reach short- and long-term career goals, as well as improve current job performance. 

IDP’s are beneficial in aligning learning activities to specific competencies, such as the UC Core Competencies, or with the mission, goals and objectives of an organization. 

The UC San Diego IDP document is formatted to help organize learning activities for easy prioritization.

Individual development planning benefits the organization by aligning employee training and development efforts with its mission, goals, and objectives.

Top 5 Tips for IDP’s

The UC San Diego IDP form is structured to prompt you to identify learning activities that are learned by experience, from others, and from courses and readings. Learn more about the 70:20:10 Learning Strategy.

  1. Though you want the IDP to be thorough and cover all major development needs, try to keep it brief and to the point so that it is not overwhelming. Focus on the key knowledge, skill, ability or competency to be developed.
  2. Both you and your supervisor should be involved in the design of the IDP. This should be done early in the performance management cycle when expectations and goals for the upcoming year are discussed. You should propose specific ways to develop in selected areas, or you may design the plan and then jointly review and refine the content with your supervisor.
  3. Start with Worksheet Part One in the Your Guide to Individual Development Planning packet, to identify your long- and medium-term goals, and then asmall, achievable goal to move you in that direction. This worksheet also can serve as a checkpoint on whether the results of following your plan are still leading you in the direction you want to go.
  4. The Career Connection program, sponsored by UC San Diego Campus Human Resources, makes available to all staff a free online transferable skills assessment tool called SkillScan Online. This tool can help you identify skill strengths and development opportunities.
  5. The Career Connection program also provides a comprehensive suite of workshops to help you in your career planning process.

What is the manager’s role in the IDP process?

Employees have the principal responsibility for developing their skills, knowledge, and experience; the supervisor's responsibility is to assess, inform, refer (network) and support.

  • Provide an atmosphere of trust and open communication
  • Initiate the individual development planning process in regular or purpose-scheduled meetings with the employee
  • Know the professional development policies and/or contract language that applies to your direct reports
  • Ask questions and listen

An IDP is not a performance evaluation tool or a one-time activity, and it requires cooperation between the employee and supervisor. Supervisors should view it as a coaching opportunity as opposed to performance management. It involves preparation and continuous feedback. However, it can be useful when discussing the year's development goals during the performance management process. When your team member is creating an IDP, consider:

  • Strengths that, if enhanced, will contribute to overall career goals
  • New skills that will enhance job performance
  • Areas of performance/skills that need to be improved

Facilitating the Employee Development Process 

In regular check-in or professional development meetings, supervisors can utilize the Identify - Assess - Plan - Act - Evaluate model for career planning and development:

  • Identify the employee’s career aspirations
  • Assess the employee’s current skill/ability level
  • Collaborate on an individual development plan
  • Encourage the employee to act on the plan
  • Evaluate and provide feedback on the progress

Needs that may contribute to establishing the purpose of the learning activities:

  • Change in technology
  • New assignment
  • Future staffing need
  • Leadership development
  • Relationship building

Why is employee development important?

  • Change - managers need to keep their teams’ abilities current, so their performance matches the pace of change
  • Retention - high-potential employees are most at risk for seeking, and being sought for, more promising job options
  • Productivity - if the teams’ abilities are continuously developed, productivity will match the pace of change
  • Boosts morale
  • Improves person-job match
  • Multigenerational - studies show that millennials will pick the job with the most potential for professional development, even over one with regular pay increases
For more information, contact Career Connection, (858) 822-2633.
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