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Building an Individual Development Plan

Step 1: What are your reactions?

A good place to start is to decide about the accuracy of the feedback, how important it is to you and
whether you want to do anything about it. Some questions to help guide your thinking are presented
with space for you to record your thoughts.

1. Overall, does the information presented accurately describe your strengths and challenges in
professional situations? What stands out as particularly accurate and/or inaccurate given what you
know about yourself?

I was particularly surprised about my teamwork score. I self-assessed myself at a 50 percentile,

however my actual score was much lower, being only 21. In professional situations, I enjoy working
alongside friends, and bouncing ideas off of each other to come to a joint conclusion and I always
value other peoples opinions very highly. Other than that, I believe the information presented
accurately describes my strengths in professional situations. My other four scores were 87, 59, 94,
and 81 for my initiative, decision-making, organizing, and communication skills respectively. I
strongly agree with my organizational skills, because I am a precise and detail oriented person, and
that was definitely reflected in my organizational skills score.

2. Is this feedback important to you for your professional (or personal) future? Whats most
important? Whats least important?

This feedback is extremely important, for both my professional and personal future. The most
important feedback given was my low teamwork score, because it made me realize that I am not as
good as working in groups as I think, and I will be looking to improve my teamwork skills in any
situation possible. This is the most important because I know that I will be working in groups for a
long time into my career, and I want to be a pleasant teammate to my peers. I dont think that there
is any least important feedback, because all feedback should be evaluated, even when it is positive.

3. Do you want to make any changes to your behavior based on the information you received? Are
you ready to make such changes? What are the potential consequences (positive and/or negative) to
making certain changes in your behavior? Can you attempt some of the developmental suggestions
provided earlier?

I am definitely ready to improve on my teamwork skills and change my behavior to foster

collaboration between team members. I want to be someone who is easy to work with and easy to
talk to. I want to encourage my peers to make suggestions and express their ideas, and ensure that
they know that they have a voice. Positive potential consequences include building better working
relationships with colleagues, and promoting efficiency in group projects because we can all work
together and voice our ideas effectively.
Step 2: Summarizing Your Feedback
Now that you have had a chance to react to the feedback, lets go a little deeper and focus on your
development. Even if you are not ready to make changes today or even care to, the next few steps
should help you to make better sense of the information presented.

Known Strengths Unknown Strengths

Staying organized and paying close Expressing my thoughts

attention to detail vocally in group situations
Establishing goals Attempting to influence
Taking initiative to achieve said events to achieve an
goals outcome
Written communication skills, Identifying possible causes
Strengths to especially with the in-basket of problems

Known Development Needs Unknown Development Needs

Fostering collaboration among team Making decisions that

members reflect information given
Encouraging open expression of
Planning out and delivering a
Areas to verbally coherent speech

Known to You Unknown to You

Step 3: Pulling in other pieces into a plan of action
Look at the areas you wish to improve as well as your greatest strength and weakness from the
assessment center you listed above. Select one strength and one weakness or select the areas you
think will provide you the biggest pay-off. In other words, given your level of interpersonal
skills, what do you want to improve? You are now going to create an action plan that will help you
set goals.

Goal Setting
You will no doubt be learning about goal setting through your coursework. The idea is simple, yet
very powerful. Lets suppose that you wanted to get in better physical shape. You might say:

This summer Im going to get in shape.

Given this goal, chances are you will not. However, if you make your goal of getting in shape
more specific you increase your chances of success. For instance, you might say:

I want to lose 10 pounds this summer.

See the difference? The first goal is vague and hard to really grasp. The second goal however is
specific and has a feeling of action. You can even do better than that by adding sub-goals:

I will jog 3 miles every other day for three months, drink 64 ounces of water a day and
reduce my caloric intake by 20%.

Now your goal has some teeth! You have a realistic plan with a timeline in which you can measure
results. Its that easy.

Thus, in order to be effective your developmental action plan must be SMART:

Specific goals are more easily accomplished than vague, unstructured goals.

Measurable goals allow you to determine whether you actually met your goals.

Attainable goals are a must. If you set unrealistic/unattainable goals you will not accomplish
them. Therefore, your goals should be challenging, but not too challenging such that they are

Relevant goals are important for success. If your goals are too broad (e.g., increase stock
price) they will not be relevant for your immediate work.

Time-bounded goals motivate you to set limits and to push yourself in the time allotted.
Improve Your Chances
A couple other things to consider when setting developmental goals that will help you achieve your

Make Your Goals Public Tell other people you are trying to develop certain skills. You can
easily fool yourself into thinking that your goals are not really that important but less easy to
fool others who will motivate you to stick to it.

Know the Resources Required All goals you set require some necessary resources. For
example, if you want to improve your communication skills you could join organizations such
as Toastmasters, which may require you to pay membership dues and 1 hour a week. Thus, so
as to not be caught off-guard and to plan accordingly, know the resources required to achieve
your goal and obtain the necessary resources.

Continuously Evaluate It is important to monitor your progress. You may have set an
unrealistic (either too easy or too hard) goal and may need to make necessary adjustments.
Elements of a Solid Development Plan

1. Targeted Behavior: List the behavior youve isolated for improvement (Not a skill category,
but single behavior(s)). Provide 2-3 additional sentences for why youve targeted this particular

2. SMART Goal Statement: This statement should be no more than 2 sentences! It should include
some measurable metric, an end date. It describes your outcome, NOT your process.

3. Action Plan: This is the meat of your IDP and describes the steps you will take towards
reaching your goal. Each step should identify particular resources youll need as well as people
you need to involve. Every step (as many as you deem necessary) should have a timeline and
anticipate any potential obstacles.

Step 1
Action step:
Completion Date:
People involved:
Potential obstacles and how to overcome:

Step 2
Action step:
Completion Date:
People involved:
Potential obstacles and how to overcome:

Step 3 etc.

4. Plan to make public: How will you publicize your plan?

5. Rewards/Punishments & Rehearsal: What will you do to practice along the way? How will
you reinforce your dedication to the action plan?

6. Evaluation plan: You must be able to evaluate whether or not you have achieved your goal but
also, whether youre on track. So, at the very least youll need at least two forms of evaluation:
one at the end, and one during the process. Remember, multiple-data sources make for better
evaluations. Think about collecting/tracking qualitative and quantitative data.

7. Tools/Techniques: Any tool that will help you manage your cues, environment, personal
approach. You might create a spreadsheet to track progress, develop a reminder system to keep
you honest, create a survey to give to others to provide additional feedback etc.
Sample Plan

Target Behavior: Networking with colleagues at conferences

Why is it important? Networking with colleagues at conferences can be difficult in that people tend to run in cliques based on their
academic training programs. Breaking into those groups is difficult and intimidating, yet essential for my professional growth and

Development Actions Steps Completion Resources/People Obstacles to

Goals Date Overcome
Goal #1: To expand my current Action step 1: Determine underlying 11/31/2007 4 hours, $10 for lunch, Realities of the uphill
network of collaborators by 25% reason for insufficient networking to colleagues time. battle based on academic
(3 colleagues) by March 1, 2008. date by meeting with senior colleague pedigree. Stay focused
to discuss fears, and challenge current Self, Phil Smith on results, rather than
mental model. background.

Action Step 2: Identify 10 colleagues 1/15/2008 Internet, journal Feel hokey practicing
who share interest and prepare articles, 4, 2-hour elevator speech, could
elevator speech to approach each blocks of time on come across as too
based upon our shared interest. calendar. strong, be prepared to
Rehearse elevator speech 5 times for scrap plan.
each colleague prior to attending the Self, spouse to listen
conference in August.
Plan to Make Public Rewards/Punishments Evaluation Plan
Share with my current network by For each collaborator added to 12/1 = comfort level measure (self-evaluation).
briefly discussing plan with each. network, I will buy $20 worth of 1/15 = list of colleagues and requisite information complete on
Create reminders with alarms on iTunes. Less than three, I will each.
my PDA. relinquish my movie picks to my wife 1/30 = ratings from spouse on formality, genuineness
for three months. impression.
2/15 = telephone conversations with contacts; ask directly interest
in working together (yes/no).
3/1= list of projects in the planning phase with new colleagues.
4/1 = reevaluation of network (quantity & qualitative)
Individual Development Plan Template

Target Behavior: Taking initiative and leadership positions to show management skills

Why important? In high school, I did not take many leadership positions and I have struggled at developing management skills, so I am
looking to take on a leadership role to promote change in my community and show that I can execute plans, persevere through hardships,
and inspire others to follow in my footsteps.

Development Actions Steps Completion Resources/People Obstacles to

Goals Date Overcome
Goal #1: To take on a leadership Action Step 1: Apply to 3 different 12/11/2017 4 hours, three 30 Interview nerves, lack of
role in the Smith School of SUSA Committees (Academic, minutes interview self-confidence, fear of
Business by March 1, 2018. Administrative, and Presidents). blocks, a resume public speaking
Interview with respective President /
Vice President in Charge. Self, President / VP of
SUSA Committees
Action Step 2: Complete the 1/15/2017 6 days, lots of coffee, Lack of knowledge and
Leadershape Institute over Winter early mornings and fear of the unknown,
Break. Do not chicken out, do not get late nights social anxiety
cold feet.
Self, 60 new friends
Action Step 3: Apply to be a Vice 11/30/2018 4 hours, interview Fear of failure, fear of
President of a SUSA Committee next with SUSA President public speaking
Self, SUSA President

Plan to Make Public Rewards/Punishments Evaluation Plan

Share my goals with my closest For each action step completed, treat 1/15 = evaluate progress following Leadershape
friends and other SUSA myself to something I have wanted for 5/31 = list of projects completed second semester freshman year as
Committee members. a while. For each deadline missed, go part of the Administrative Committee
to a Smith event and take initiative to 10/1 = analyze growth over the last year as a college student and as
network with employers. a SUSA committee member
Must include a statement with your signature that you plan to carry out the actions steps
between now and your next assessment in the Spring of 2019.

I plan to carry out the action steps listed above between now and my next assessment in the
Spring of 2019.
Kellie Zhang
December 8, 2017