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The individual development planning process

The individual development planning process

An individual development plan is prepared by the employee in partnership with his or her supervisor. The plan is based upon the needs of the employee, the position and the organization. A good individual development plan will be interesting, achievable, practical and realistic. It is implemented with the approval of the employee’s supervisor.

Step 1 – Self-assessment

The employee identifies his or her skills, abilities, values, strengths and weaknesses. To conduct a self-assessment:

Use the many self-assessment tools found on the internet
Compare your knowledge, skills and abilities to those identified in your job description
Review performance assessments (performance assessments are often used as the starting place for developing individual development plans)
Ask for feedback from your supervisor

Step 2 – Assess your current position and your work environment

The employee does an assessment of the requirement of his or her position at the present time and how the requirements of the position and/or organization may change. To conduct a position assessment:

Identify the job requirements and performance expectations of your current position
Identify the knowledge, skills and abilities that will enhance your ability to perform your current job
Identify and assess the impact on your position of changes taking place in the work environment such as changes in clients, programs, services and technology.
Based on your analysis in Steps 1 and 2, use the sample Individual Development Plan form to answer the following questions:

What goals do you want to achieve in your career?
Which of these development goals are mutually beneficial to you and your organization?
Write what you would like to achieve as goals. Select two or three goals to work on at a time. Set a time frame for accomplishing your goals.

Step 3 – Identify development activities

Identify the best ways to achieve your development goals.

What methods will you use?
What resources will be required?

Step 4 – Put your plan in action

Once you have prepared a draft of your individual development plan:

Review your plan with your supervisor for his or her input and approval
Start working on your plan
Evaluate your progress and make adjustments as necessary
Celebrate your successes


This group of techniques is used after some learning or insights about a particular topic, or issue, have been acquired. Once the participants understand the issues involved, they are in a better position to consider how they should go forward, either individually or as part of a team. A planning, or action-planning, exercise towards the end of a course or workshop forms an important part of the process of transferring the work of the individuals within the group to the external world where this work will become a reality. It also provides time for reflection both about the course itself and its relevance to the participants’ own working situations.


There are many different ways of developing planning exercises. The facilitator can design a short pro-forma (to suit the training situation) that individual participants then fill in. Participants can work together to develop their own ideas for an action plan, guided by a series of headings suggested either by themselves or the facilitator.

Plans can be very simple: the facilitator might ask participants to think of an action point to address each of the following headings. STOP (one thing that you plan to stop doing); CONTINUE (one thing to continue doing); and START (one thing to start doing) as a result of this workshop. Or they can be very complex: using elaborate frameworks where participants are encouraged to answer the what, who, why, when and how questions for each of the actions that they plan to carry out.

A widely used management tool is the critical path analysis, or network analysis.

This is a method of planning and controlling complex projects, with the objective of getting the right things done in the right order at the right time. The project is broken down into a number of separate activities, with a critical path diagram then showing the order in which each activity must be undertaken. The diagram will reflect the duration of each activity and specify the earliest date at which later activities can begin. Various activities may advance in parallel.

Each diagram is composed of activities and nodes. An activity is that part of the project that requires time and resources – it is represented by an arrow, running from left to right. A node is the start or finish of an activity, and it is represented by a circle. Each diagram must start and end on a single node, and no activity lines must cross each other.

The diagram will thus show which of the activities are critical to achieving the objective – this means that if these activities are delayed, then the project will not be completed on time. Resources can then be concentrated on ensuring that these critical activities are completed on schedule. Other activities that are not critical have a degree of flexibility in the amount of time taken to complete them.

Examples of where planning might be used effectively

• Towards the end of a workshop.

• At the end of an important discussion where it has been clear that a change of policy or practice will be needed.


1. Look at the training objectives and consider what methods will best achieve these.

2. Consider the participants’ experience and expectations – is this method the best way of getting participants to learn this topic?

3. Consider your skills, experience, and confidence as a trainer/facilitator.

4. Consider any special facilities, equipment, time, or other requirements needed to use the method.

5. Use a variety of methods to stimulate the senses but do not overload.