As a business owner, you're responsible for giving your workers the tools they need for success in the workplace.
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But it's also your responsibility to help them grow as professionals and reach their individual career goals. And with a little effort, it's possible to achieve business growth and individual employee development at the same time.
Individual development plans began as a tool that government employers used to help their workers reach their full career potential. Now, more and more private sector employers are relying on IDPs as part of their overall workforce development strategy. If you haven't used IDPs yet, you're missing out on a ready-made resource for employee assessment and goal setting.
There is no standard procedure for creating an Individual Development Plan. In most workplaces, the employee is responsible for creating her own IDP, subject to employer review and approval. But for maximum effectiveness, it's helpful to encourage your employees to follow a rough outline when they create their IDPs.
- Organizational goals. Typically, IDPs begin with a discussion about the employee's perception of the company's strategic goals and objectives over the next five years. It's important for employers to resist the temptation to create this section of the IDP themselves. There will be plenty of opportunities during the review process to adjust the employee's understanding of business goals and how they fit into the big picture.
- Strengths assessment. After the employee has identified organizational goals, the next step is for him to assess his personal strengths with an eye toward how his skills and talents can help the company achieve strategic goals. If the employee's perceived strengths don't mesh with his current role, he may be a good candidate for retraining or a transfer to a different department.
- Identification of growth areas. Employees should be encouraged to conduct an honest evaluation of their growth areas. Make it clear that the identification of perceived weaknesses won't be used against them when it comes to pay increases or performance evaluations. The information they provide here will only be used to help them access the resources they need to improve performance.
- Personal goals. IDPs are a great tool for discovering your employees' personal career goals. In many cases, these career goals can be used as a basis for training that will prepare them to advance in the company.
- IDP review. Every IDP should be accompanied by a review meeting with the employee's supervisor. This meeting clarifies development goals and lays out an actionable development strategy.