Individual development plan examples

individual development plan examples

Individual development plan examples that boost job performance quickly

The secret to an effective individual development plan is to build performance improvement right into the plan. You do this by focusing on employee’s work-related skills and soft skills.

These employee development plan examples illustrate the concept. Try them at no charge. You can set up and implement them immediately.

Included: Download and learn about these five individual development plan examples:

  • Individual development plan template in Word

  • Employee development plan template in Excel

  • Individual development plan sample (in PDF and Excel)

  • Individual Development plan for Leadership

  • Employee Quarterly Review for performance improvement

And if you are ready to get started, you can get The Ultimate Employee Development Program and boost your employees performance immediately:

Employee individual development plan template kit with sample examples

Performance improvement is the key to individual development

The goal of an individual development plan (IDP) is to build employee job skills. This is the key to improving employee performance quickly.

Many IDP’s focus on goals. But goals don’t work well for  poor job performance. This is because they focus your employee on the future. Plus, they distract your employee with so many variables, they lose engagement.

The innovation of this new IDP is to focus on job proficiency over a quarter, not goals over 1 to 5 years.

The difference in performance improvement results is huge:

  • An IDP template empowers employees to work on job-related skills. This provides a direct correlation to performance improvement, productivity and professional development.

  • Maintaining a quarterly focus on job proficiencies provides the employee with a continuous feedback loop. This increases engagement, motivation and retention.

How performance improvement fuels your employee’s individual development

There are numerous ways that performance improvement boosts employee development:

  • Productivity: By concentrating on improving specific job proficiencies, the employee increases their productivity and mastery of their job role

  • Engagement: Developing specific job proficiencies gives the employee much more control over the outcome, driving high engagement and job retention

  • Job satisfaction and retention: don’t lose good employees who feel neglected or detached. Improving their job skills is a key to employees job satisfaction and to feeling appreciated. In a LinkedIn survey, 70% of employees said they want to develop work-related skills so they can increase their value and perform at higher level in their current role. 58% said they would leave a company if it did not offer professional skills development.

  • Cures poor job performance: Focusing on job skills increases work performance almost immediately

  • Avoid the need for a performance improvement plan: By focusing employee on mastering job proficiencies, you avoid them falling behind and needing to be put on a stressful performance improvement plan

In addition, by making the EDP fast and easy to complete, it is looked at as a useful tool, not a  must do chore for HR.

Here are your free downloads for individual development plan examples and templates.

You can download and use these immediately. See below for Instructions.

I provide several formats so you can choose the IDP templates that are easiest for you to work with.

Individual development plan template in Word

This individual development plan template in MS Word can be edited and customized to meet the needs of your organization:

Individual development plan template in Excel

I find MS Excel easier to edit and navigate when there are many input fields, so this employee  development plan template in excel is an excellent choice:

Individual development plan sample (PDF and Excel) completed example

Learn how to structure and build an effective employee development plan, with PDF sample examples and screen shots how to.

Leadership development plan example

Reach your leadership development goals objectives with this individual development plan for leadership.

It’s a template modeled on the individual development plan example.

The ultimate employee development program

If you are ready to implement a complete, thorough employee development plan, my Employee Development Plan Template Kit is a failproof way to performance improvement.

It provides a complete set of templates with instructions, examples, and screen shots. It includes a rewards program and a leadership development program too.

It is truly the ultimate employee development program. Effective for up to about 25 employees.

Essential fundamentals about individual development plans

To learn how to best use these IDP templates and examples, here is a strong overview of best practices to build, set up and implement an effective employee development plan.

What is an individual development plan?

An individual development plan (IDP) is a type of employee development plan administered to employees. It centers around developing each employees unique set of job proficiency and job skills.

It is best implemented as a quarterly employee review tool to build and strengthen employee job performance in their career discipline.

The IDP addresses three areas:

  1. Key job role functions

  2. Job role support proficiencies

  3. “Soft skills” such as interpersonal communication, leadership development and behavioral skills  

The goal of an IDP is to continually develop key job skills in these three areas.  As the employee builds greater mastery of the job, it results in higher productivity and prepares them for more responsibility.

What is an individual development plan template?

An individual employee development plan template is a standardized format of an IDP.

It allows employers to use one form to build career development skills for the entire workforce. Yet it customizes the development plan for each individual employee.

The 3 steps to implement an individual development plan

The 3 steps to an effective individual development plan

To learn how to best use these IDP templates and examples, here is a strong overview of best practices to build, set up and implement an effective employee development plan.

What is an individual development plan?

The best IDP involves three steps:

  1. Set up the plan template with all job skill proficiencies extracted from employee’s job description.

  2. Send template to employee each quarter, to complete it in advance of meeting with manager. Employee rates and ranks to 3 to 5 job skills to focus on. Manager goes through same process and has final say on what skill employee needs to develop.

  3. At Quarterly Review, manager reviews employees progress.

Repeat this process on autopilot each quarter.

How to write an individual development plan

The IDP template is set up around each employee’s job description.

To write an individual development plan template, take one of the IDP examples provided,  in the format you prefer and fill out:

  • Employer creates a list of specific job role proficiencies for each employee

  • The employee ranks their proficiency in each area of their job performance

  • They prioritize which 3 to 5 proficiencies they want to focus on the coming quarter

  • At the employee quarterly review, the manger reviews their rankings and adjusts as necessary

  • Manager provides the resources necessary for employee to meet their proficiency goals

Why your employee’s individual development plan needs to focus on performance improvement

As an employer, you want each employee to excel in their job functions. An IDP provides actionable job skill improvement.

Employee effectiveness:

  • By focusing on performance improvement early on, you are making the employee as effective and productive as possible in their particular job role.

Job skill growth over time:

  • A smart career development plan template keeps employees focused only on the job proficiencies they are responsible for. Over a few quarters they attain ninja performance levels: skilled, disciplined and professional.

Develops leadership and people skills:

  • A well thought out individual development plan will also include “soft” skills. Those are interpersonal skills that increase the employee’s professionalism, people skills, leadership and likeability.

Every single professional sports team focuses their players on performance improvement. Shouldn’t you be doing the same?

Making the IDP template employer friendly

This template provides employers with a fast, organized way to implement a customized development plan for each employee:

  • These individual development plan templates are designed to vastly minimize the time that managers spend on quarterly reviews. The employee completes their own review first, manager simply reviews and edits as necessary

  • The template’s focus is on performance improvement. This ensures employee knows where they are responsible to meet and exceed employer’s job requirements each quarter

  • The template maintains a uniform process for all employees, yet allows employer to customize each individual employee’s job functions and areas of soft skills improvement

  • Inputs from both the employee and the employer builds maximum engagement and collaboration

  • Most importantly this individual development plan template is PRACTICAL. It steers away from long term goals, employee development based on personality theories, distracting long term goals, or the selective improvement of gap based approach

How employers can deploy an employee development plan to boost employee job skill proficiency, motivation and engagement

The IDP template is a key management tool. It puts employers and employees on the same page. They work towards the same few specific goals each quarter. This increases employees engagement and motivation, because they are part of the process.

The biggest benefit of a lean IDP is how it keeps employees focused on their specific job skills development.

This is the best way to help employees stay engaged and motivated in carrying out employer’s productivity goals. It increases their personal growth at the same time.

How does the individual employee development plan work? A breakout

Using the principle of Kaizen, employee steadily expands their job proficiency in 3 categories each quarter:

  1. Core job role proficiencies

  2. Job-related and job support functions

  3. Soft skills:
    interpersonal skills, character, behavioral skills, self-growth and leadership development

In this screenshot of a completed IDP template, you can examine how a focus on specific job skills leads to performance improvement.

Sample of a completed individual employee development plan template - core job role proficiencies

Individual Development Plan Example

A properly done employee development plan has a short term focus

The best individual EDP’s are quarterly. This short term focus enables employers to keep the employee concentrating on only 3 to 5 proficiencies to improve each quarter.

The 3 month cycle provides numerous benefits to both employees and employers:

  • Work performance feedback loop: The quarterly focus is an ideal way to provide employee with a continuous feedback loop about their progress

  • Deep focus: A short term, 90 day timeline with only 3 to 5 objectives allows employee to truly master and internalize their job proficiencies and eliminates overwhelm

  • Easier for employer to manage: The short term focus on objectives makes employee development easier for employer to track and manage progress

  • Employee engagement and motivation: Because the employee is involved in ranking and rating which proficiencies to work on in a quarter, they are more engaged and thus motivated

  • Replaces an employee coaching plan: The narrow scope of the employee development plan facilitates coaching of employee on those few specific goals where improvement is needed

  • Collaboration between employer and employee: choosing 3 to 5 proficiencies together allows employee and manager to both work towards the same goals. This reduces friction and stress, and increases collaboration

How an IDP prevents the employee from falling into a performance improvement plan

Performance improvement is a key aspect of career development because it prevents employees from falling behind.

Many employee development plans have failed in that regard. If they were focused on the right metrics to begin with, employers wouldn’t need to put employees who falter on performance improvement plans.

Contrast this with sports, where performance improvement is widely used as a proactive tool from day one.

In business, a performance improvement plan has gained a negative reputation. It is used in a reactive way, as a last resort.

The innovation of this employee development plan template is the philosophy of ‘sports kaizen.’ Steady performance improvement each day as the key part of a larger career development strategy.

Proactive, not reactive. Right from the start.

It makes sense. When the employee becomes excellent at their job proficiencies and interpersonal skills, they expand their professional growth and their self-growth. This typically brings them to a level of job performance where a PIP will never be required.

How to create and implement employee development goals

To create individual employee development goals:

  • Employer starts with each employee’s job description

  • Employees job role proficiencies are listed and prioritized

  • Proficiencies are then sorted into 3 buckets: core job role, support proficiencies and soft skills

  • 3 to 5 job proficiencies are agreed upon by employer and employee

Those 3 to 5 specific job proficiencies are the employee development goals over the next 90 days.

How employer administers and implements the IDP

The IDP is administered by the employer to the employee at each quarterly meeting.

Employer (typically employees direct supervisor) presents template to employee with the list of three categories of job proficiencies

  • Employee rates their proficiency for each job function and then rank its priority this quarter

  • The supervisor then reviews the employees ratings and rankings; they make their final choice of the top 3 to 5 proficiencies to be prioritized  

  • Each quarter end they meet to discuss results and next quarters proficiency goals

  • Employer assigns resources to assist employee as needed

  • You can provide managers and executives with a leadership development plan

  • Employer can choose a rewards plan to award those employees who exceed goals

Example of how employer administers an individual employee development plan template with employee

Individual development plan template: employee and employer rank and rate job skills

Once you establish this quarterly process, very few adjustments to the template are required. The quarterly employee review should take 15 to 20 minutes.

Then employer simply repeats the IDP process each quarter on autopilot.

FAQ: Frequently asked questions about individual development plans, templates and examples

How does a IDP template engage, motivate and retain employees?

Empowering the employee to rate and rank themselves in each proficiency gives them ownership of the process. This engages and motivates them by including them in on the decision making process

The employee rates themselves on each job proficiency. Then they rank its importance for targeted improvement. The manager then does the same.

This proactive collaboration has the benefit of:

  • Engages employee: employee is directly involved in choosing what proficiencies they believe they need to improve performance in. This makes them invested in the outcome

  • Motivates the employee: the employee is motivated to meet the goals that they collaborated in with employer

    • If employer has a rewards plan in place, they are motivated by team competitiveness to achieve proficiency levels so they can earn rewards

  • Retains employee: As employee grows in their mastery of job proficiencies, they are more qualified to seek higher levels of responsibility (and compensation) within the organization

  • Reduces employee-manager friction: The collaboration on shared goals with employer builds trust and strengthens bonds between employee and manager. It reduces one of the key reasons employees leave: friction with manager

How does the employee development plan template help employee and employer to collaborate?

Both the employee and manager rate and rank which proficiencies to work on for the quarter together. This builds trust, connection and shared accountability. 

Soft skills development

The template includes options for tricky soft skills, such as interpersonal skills, character, behavioral skills and other non-core job functions. Often these skills are key impediments to employees job performance.

For example, the soft skills section of the employee development plan can make coaching an employee with a negative attitude a lot easier.

Improvement in the soft skill category is a win-win for both employee and employer.

Why is the quarterly employee review cycle the best way to administer an employee development plan?

A quarterly review cycle of 90 days is the ideal amount of time to work on, master and internalize 3 to 5 proficiencies because:

  • Each and every quarter, employee reviews, rates and ranks a list of each of their job proficiencies. This means they get to know exactly what is expected of them

  • Over a years’ time, the employer can see employee gain ninja performance improvement on 15 to 20 proficiencies. This is powerful results

  • Best of all, once core job proficiencies are mastered after 4 to 6 quarters, employer can concentrate on growing employee’s professional “softs skills” such as:

    • Leadership development
    • Interpersonal relationship and communication skills
    • Behavioral skills
    • Emotional intelligence
    • Listening skills
    • Tact
    • Paraphrasing
    • Limiting distractions
    • Organization habits
    • Timeliness, etc.

Why is the scope of this individual development plan template limited to job proficiencies and job requirements, instead of a complete suite of career planning goals?

This IDP avoids the big trap that most employers fall into: development overwhelm of employees.

If an individual development plan is too large in scope or too complex, they become unmanageable and lose their focus. This will demotivate the employee.

Sadly they then become an exercise in CYA for both manger and employee. They dread the unnecessary data input and often useless performance metrics.

Especially if you have large HR software platforms, they can become an employee development quagmire.

Keeping a narrow scope on job skills improvement keeps employee focused and motivated.

Why most HR employee development apps are overkill for most employers

Most HR Apps for employee development are overkill. Especially for a small employer under 30 employees.

Most HR apps try to integrate career planning with employee metrics and comparison data. Add in corporate citizen goals, surveys, etc. and a lot of it is unneccessary.

Some include everything but the kitchen sink such as:

  • Competency matrices
  • 360 degree peer review
  • Progress tracking integration with CRM
  • Multi-platform templates
  • Employee engagement surveys
  • Performance tied to compensation adjustments
  • Goal weighting
  • Performance metrics comparisons
  • Meaningless analytics and data points tracking that increase your data analysis labor costs

You can see that when you try to mix all these complex corporate measurements with employee performance improvement, it becomes absolutely overwhelming to your employee.

It’s a huge undertaking for management as well. Operating expensive sophisticated software and the labor required to operate it is a drain on resources.

Worst of all with HR app overkill is how the employees performance gets lost in all the data analysis.

Make sure to use the proper employee development plans for career goals

Note: These individual development plan templates are not intending to replace any HR program, in-depth career planning, career pathing, 5 year career action plan, or other long term career planning tools.

The IDP focus is only as a hands-on, proactive employee coaching tool. It’s goal is to build ninja performance improvement by focusing on mastering job proficiencies.

Long term career planning has a separate scope. It should be a separate plan, on separate schedules and programs.

What if an employer needs consulting or workshops to help them ramp up this template to their employees?

Yes, for those who purchase the Employee Development Plan Template Kit, I offer an employee development plan training program for the employer.

It’s a hands on, online EDP implementation workshop. It can include as many attendees as the employer wants.

It includes:

  • Instruction how to create the 3 buckets of proficiencies from job description and job requirements

  • We’ll build out an example career development plan for an employee

  • Role play with manager how to rank and rate proficiencies and to how to complete the EDP with employee

  • Role play with manager how to conduct the quarterly review and employee coaching plan with employee

  • We review how to convert the final proficiencies to an EQD (employee quarterly development) worksheet for employee to review each day/week.

  • Put a leadership development plan in place for key employees

  • Build out a cost-effective Rewards plan for employees and a survey to identify what rewards might motivate them

  • Touch on how to work with HR to implement the template into overall career planning goals

I also offer hourly consult if you need a hand with any aspect of set up or implementation of the EDP.

Final thoughts about individual employee development plans

The typical IDP needs to maintain a focus on performance improvement to be effective. Vague, long term goals or corporate ‘nice to have’ wish lists can overwhelm employees.

Most employees and managers complete them because they have to. But they are a missed opportunity for effective employee development.

A lean IDP template keeps the focus back on employee performance improvement – where the rubber meets the road for any business and employee.

The quarterly refresh cycle allows employees to focus on improving 3 to 5 proficiencies. This is a useful tool to keep the manager in close contact with employee progress.

These IDP templates are useful as a starting point

These IDP templates, samples and examples are intended as a starting point. They allow you to develop employee job skills right away. But they are not a comprehensive plan.

For a complete Employee Development Program, get the complete Employee Development Plan Template Kit. It’s designed to be win-win for both the employer and employee.

There is no huge learning curve or rollout process for employer. The excel templates are straightforward and simple to complete for employee.

  • Employer guide helps employer through the quick setup of plan – typically in less than an hour

  • It includes specific instructions, examples and screen shots to quickly set up, build and implement an individual employee development plan

  • It provides step-by-step instructions for managers to administer and run quarterly review and employee coaching plan in 15 to 20 minutes

  • Can be integrated with existing HR platforms by being scheduled as a quarterly document

    • 2 Bonuses included:


      1. A cost effective rewards program template to motivate employees and

      2. A leadership development plan template to develop key employees

Here’s where to learn more and get started on boosting your employees job performance from day one:

Employee individual development plan template kit with sample examples

Note: This individual employee development guide is written by a real human, synthesizing many years of experience and research to provide you with a relevant solution.

It was not written by an A.I. bot that ‘covers all the bases’ by rehashing other articles, yet doesn’t provide you with true human-helpful conclusions.

About the author:

Larry LaFata is the founder of defineyourcareer.com. He is a Career Development Coach and a Career Mindset Coach.

Larry LaFata, founder DefineYourCareer.com

He is dedicated to help you develop your career potential to the fullest, regardless of your background, education or experience.

His innovative courses include Leadership Development Plan using composite role models and Employee Development Workshops for small businesses a two hour online workshop to set up and implement employee development plans.

More employee development plan resources

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Larry Lafata, Career Discovery Coach

Larry LaFata is founder of defineyourcareer.com and the world’s only Career Discovery Coach. He is dedicated to help you discover your Career Destiny, regardless of your background, education or experience. His innovative courses include Define Your Career Destiny one week home study course and Career Destiny Workshop for Besties.

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