5 Tips for Writing your Individual Development Plan


Show Full Article

Many companies have added a formal “Individual Development Plan” to their performance assessment program. Carly is due in the HR online system by the end of the first quarter. It is tempting and common to look at this as simply another requirement to check off in the course of your busy day to day job. In fact, many managers treat it as simply another checklist. However, the development plan can and should be seen as a tool for career growth. Here are 5 tips to help you get in the right mindset for filling out your development plan:


1. Aim High… Or Be Realistic:

We have heard both of these pieces of advice throughout our lives when it comes to setting personal goals. They are clearly contradictory. In this case, it seems best to know yourself and choose the strategy that works with your personality. According to the StrengthsFinder index, both Tony and I are “Maximizers,” and as such, we tend to set audacious goals. This pushes us to achieve excellence, and I find it highly motivating. For others, this may be paralyzing; having goals that seem out of reach or too large to comprehend can cause some to get stuck in the analytical change. Determine what your style is and embrace it!


2. Ask for Input:

If this is your first time filling out a development plan or even just your first time taking it seriously, ask your colleagues what they have had success with in the past. If you’re unsure of how to best achieve a goal, look for resources online. If you can’t decide the most pressing area for you to focus on growing, do an informal (or formal, if you’re able) 360 feedback session. The important thing is making sure that you’re considering several different points of view and are taking a good view at yourself.


3. Devote Some Quality Time:

Set aside time to write up the plan when you will not be interrupted. This is an investment in your career, and you should take 30-60 minutes to write out your vision for the next year. If at all possible give it more than one day. Write a draft, then sleep on it and work on it the next day. If you work on it three or four different days you’ll end up with a much more complete plan that’s not as heavily affected by how you were feeling on one specific day.


4. Treat the Plan as a Living Document:

As the year goes on, revisit the document. Personally, I have a calendar reminder to check in at the end of each month. See if you’ve kept the promises you made to yourself. If you realize in April that the Short Term Goal you set for the 2nd quarter is no longer relevant, replace it with something that is. Even if the HR software your company uses doesn’t allow you to edit it in the system more than twice a year, keep a paper copy or a copy of the document in Word that you can edit or make notes on throughout the year, so that at the end of the year, you can capture everything you’ve done.


5. Be Intentional:

Recognize that this document is going to be saved in your company’s HR database and that it will be a starting point for conversations with your supervisor. Pick goals that are personally meaningful, but that also make sense in the context of your position. They should be goals that serve you in your current role, but that will also help to develop you for your next step.

In a future article we will address how we prepare for development conversations with our supervisors. Leading that conversation is an important part of utilizing this tool to its fullest.


About Carly Burnham

Carly Burnham began her insurance career in 2004 as an office assistant at an agency in her hometown of Duluth, MN. She got licensed as a producer while working at that agency and progressed to serve as an office manager. Working in the agency is how she fell in love with the industry. She saw firsthand the good that insurance consumers experienced by having the proper protection. When Carly moved to Des Moines in 2010, she decided to commit to the industry, and she completed her CPCU in one year finishing it in 2012 and attending commencement in New Orleans. She completed her MBA at Iowa State University in 2014. During this time, she and Tony founded a Gen Y Associate Resource Group at Nationwide in Des Moines. After they had both left Nationwide, Tony recruited Carly to co-author and manage InsNerds.com. She has the difficult task of keeping his constant flow of crazy ideas focused and helping to flesh them out into useful articles. Carly enjoys sharing knowledge and ideas about the future of the industry and finds the website a good outlet for this passion. Carly is involved in the the CPCU Society Underwriting Interest Group. She also writes "Next Wave" a monthly column in the "Perspectives" section of Best's Review.

  1. Aim High 2. Ask for Input 3. Devote Some Quality Time 4. Treat the Plan as a Living Document 5. Be Intentional
Powered by TLDR

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.