By: Helios on January 18th, 2012

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Charting A Career Course in 2012?

Total Rewards | Best Practices

Have you developed your Individual Development Plan (IDP) for 2012?  
In this month’s issue of the Helios Newsletter "The Chariot" Senior Human Resources Business Partner Beth Singh provides tips to get started:

Charting a Career Course in 2012 — Developing an Individual Development Plan (IDP)
Beth Singh, Sr. HRBP
It's that time of year again, the time when individuals and organizations are most likely to think about what lies ahead and what they plan to do about it. Of course, an argument could be made that in the context of future-focused development planning, that time should really be continuous, but that's a discussion for another day. Let's talk instead about the opportunity you have in front of you right now, as a leader of others, to help your employees chart their course this year.
Many of us who have been in management for a while can easily underestimate the power of what’s before us when we enter development planning discussions. After all, it’s possible that many of us charted our own course or frankly, that we happened upon what we learned a little more organically than employees do now. Today, the landscape is different. Not only is there an opportunity to initiate planning discussions with employees. There’s a responsibility, to the people and to the business. After all, if you aren’t talking to your employees about their development, someone else is or will be soon.
So what does that look like in the days of a multi-generational workforce, with limited time and likely, even more limited dollars available? You might be surprised to learn that getting started doesn’t have to be terribly complicated at all and in fact, it doesn't have to cost much either.
Here are some Individual Development Planning (IDP) tips:

  • Invest the time — IDP's are a great engagement and retention tool when done well and in the spirit of continuous growth. Initiate the dialogue and offer your honest, constructive assessment of performance and potential, based on the individual's skills and the organization's priorities.
  • Give adequate, if not slightly more, weight to reinforcing strengths than to developing weaknesses. Sure, we all have to develop the areas that challenge us and a strong IDP likely does push us out of our comfort zone just a bit, but companies and individuals gain much more when they can identify and grow natural talents.
    "One cannot build on weaknesses. To achieve results, one has to use all the available strengths...These strengths are the true opportunities" (Drucker, 1967)
  • Encourage employees to develop a plan that is interesting, achievable, practical and realistic — for both the employee and the organization (HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector). Your job is to initiate the discussion and to approve the final plan. Employees play a critical and lead role in the plan's development and its continued momentum.
  • Remember that there are many options available to develop employees. Think creatively about on-the-job training, committee work, leadership opportunities, job rotation, job shadowing, "stretch" assignments (with appropriate support), webinars, offsite training and conferences. The direct costs of most of these are nominal.

The bottom line is, start somewhere and set the standard. If your organization isn't there yet, you can still engage your team in these development-oriented discussions. I assure you that they will see the value and will likely demonstrate it in their engagement in the job and commitment to the organization. As with most things after all, it's the sincerity of the gesture, the welcoming of the dialogue and the commitment to mutual success that have the most profound impact on the courses we chart in life.
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