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Building Individual Development Plans to Retain and Motivate Top Employees

Investing in your team through the implementation of Individual Development Plans (IDP) can help your company develop, motivate, and retain its top talent. When employees can see the possibilities in front of them, along with a plan to help them get there, they will be more engaged, loyal, and likely to reach their full potential.



Elements of an Individual Development Plan


An IDP is a document that outlines employee knowledge, skills, and abilities and proposes well-thought-out development objectives. It is an organized approach to help foster a culture of continuous improvement. By developing skillsets and strengthening weaknesses, development plans help employees stay accountable and reach their short- and long-term career goals.

As employers, an IDP allows us to identify, strengthen and groom our top performers, assisting them to reach their goals and contribute to company success.


Benefits of Individual Development Plans


1. Employees are more likely to be engaged and motivated when they see opportunities ahead of them.

2. Investing in employees increases retention. In a 2018 LinkedIn Workplace Report, 94% of employees said they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.

3. Individual Development Plans can help companies prepare for the future by taking stock of top performers and grooming them to fill future roles. Companies can also use a Talent Gap Analysis to determine where there are needs and to help inform IDPs.


Tips to Successfully Create Individual Development Plans for Top-Performers


1. Take stock of who you have on your team. Who are your top performers? Create strategic plans for high-potential people and get them on a specific growth path.

2. Involve employees. The ultimate responsibility should lie on the team member, not the manager. Show opportunities, and encourage them to answer questions such as “Where do you want to go? What is the next step and where are the gaps?”

3. Share your ideas for a career path and highlight opportunities. Let your team member know what is possible for them. Help them envision a future with your company. What could that look like for them, and how do they make it happen? 4. Provide opportunities for people on development plans by promoting within your organization. To be successful, Individual Development Plans need to be part of an overall company culture that encourages growth and upward movement of your best people.

5. Create a living, breathing document that evolves as the employee grows. An Individual Development Plan is not a one-and-done exercise. Plan frequent check-ins to hold team members accountable for specific achievements.

6. Ask yourself if you can realistically get them to where they want to go? Lofty goals are great, but do the opportunities exist within the company, and does this employee have what it takes to make it happen?

7. Suggest they ask for outside opinions. What do their peers think their strengths and development opportunities are? Have vendors or clients given any valuable feedback that could help them grow?


Individual Development Plans ensure that you are making the most of the talent pool within your company. Open, honest conversations about where your team members want to go, what that looks like, and whether it's possible, is the first step to motivating and retaining top performers.