Developing an Individual Development Plan (IDP)

How to ensure you’re not stuck and your growth is being measured

5 min readMay 19, 2022


Career growth is what everyone looks forward to, except you’re just working because you love working. Oh, who am I kidding?

We all want to experience some level of growth in our career and how we are able to justify and measure this growth is what we are going to be talking about today.

I had written an earlier version of this to people in our community, but I thought it would be a good fit if everyone also gets to benefit from this.

Creating the Individual Development Plan is a compulsory part of our mentorship curriculum. It is what officially commences the relationship between our wentors and their wentees. It helps both parties chart a course for the rest of their relationship, they are able to measure expectations and at the end of the program, they are able to measure progress against the plan they had developed together.

So what’s an Individual Development Plan?

DAN MCCARTHY would define an Individual Development Plan in a publication he wrote for as a tool that helps facilitate employee development.

He further outlines the benefits of IDPs as:

· They are a commitment between the employee and manager on what the employee is going to do to grow and what the manager will do to support the employee.

· They are a catalyst for dialog and idea sharing.

· When something is put in writing, it’s more likely to get done.

· They provide a framework for how to develop.

We use the IDP at Wentors to help our wentors/wentees know what to expect from each other. Having a relationship where the expectations are not defined can be deceptive, a lot might be getting done and yet might go unnoticed because particular attention was not placed on them. The story can also be in the reverse where nothing’s happening, but because activities are being ticked off the box, assumption is made that development is happening.

A development plan is something you put together when you want to ensure nothing is left to chance. Everything might not go according to plan, but it’s better to have a plan that you can navigate emergencies and anomalies around that be a lost kite in the wind.

How do you create an individual development plan?

Creating an IDP requires you to be very sincere with yourself, especially in a mentorship relationship. You’d have to take into consideration the time frame available to hit those markers and how much effort you’d need to put in. But even before this, building the resolve to say “I am going to see this through” is an important preparatory stage towards step 1.

So, what’s the first thing that you should do?

Determine your development goals

It’s a development plan, yes, we know. But for what?

The dynamics of the development plan is specific to the goal you’re trying to achieve. It takes different levels of preparation for someone doing 100m sprint and another going on a marathon. The activities might be similar, but the goal has changed the dynamics of what can be done and at what frequency it should be done.

A woman sitting on a bench

So, in a 4, 6 or 8-week relationship with a wentor/wentee, you want to get down to business quick enough and outline what your picture of success would look like depending on the structure of the program you enroll for.

I have an IDP for a number of aspects and the requirements change each time. This is why you can’t have someone create your IDP for you.

Pick up a pen and a notepad now and start writing.

This is how I do mine:

· Where am I currently?

· Where do I want to be in the next X-years?

· What do I need to get there? (This outlines resources of all kinds; human, material, financial, knowledge-based, etc)

Are you going to be giving it a try?

Create an outline

You know where you want to get to, now it’s time to organize all the requirements and procedures towards getting there. Organize all the components of your IDP as large chunks that you’d need to break apart bit by bit.

In this stage you might get overwhelmed with how much work it would look like to get to your goals, but don’t drop that pen just yet.

Maybe you can, but come back to it and finish up. This is also an important part of the process that would ease out the next step.

Breakdown your outline

You can’t fit a whole burger into your mouth, and if you can, then kudos to you.

You know how you take smaller bites till the whole burger disappears, that’s exactly what you’d do with this plan.

Break it down into sizeable bits.

Brown Wooden Desk

Let’s say you want to work as a process engineer at Cisco in the next 7 years and you’ve outline that you’d need to get the necessary certifications and build your portfolio to be Cisco worthy.

A breakdown of that outline would involve listing the necessary skills you need to be certified at and the type of projects you’d want to work on as additions to your portfolio.

There is no end to how much your outline can be broken down. But for the sake of your mentorship relationship, you can outline possible questions you’d ask your wentor/wentee to guide that process.

Get to work

Creating an IDP is not for display. Your note pad should not be a museum of ideas not implemented. You’ve done the bulk of the work; what’s left is taking necessary steps towards implementation. Your wentor can be the push you might need, however, if you don’t have someone to push you, you can push yourself or find someone.

Hands Doing Star Shape

That’s the beauty of our community, you can connect with someone who would hold you accountable to your IDP.

That’s an overview of all you’d need to create and work with your IDP. If you ever need an extra layer of faith, here it comes; I’m rooting for you big and I can’t wait to see the magic you create and the quality of work you do.

Always feel free to reach out, share testimonies with me and struggles too.




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