Dear Workforce How Do We Get Employees to Embrace Individual Development Plans?

By Staff Report

Jul. 19, 2011

Dear Underwhelmed:

Your assumptions about individual development plans, or IDPs, are perfectly logical. But as you also said, it probably isn’t realistic to expect full participation during the first year. Even when the benefits appear obvious, employees don’t always understand IPDs clearly enough to take the time to participate.

Take a multipronged approach. First, make a clear connection between completing the IDP and achieving a goal that is significant to the employee. For example, if completing the IDP counts toward a portion of a person’s overall performance rating (and therefore factors into calculation of a raise), it is likely to receive attention.

You need to remember that not everyone is motivated by the same thing, however. If you are able to establish a clear connection between completion of the IDP and the achievement of a personally valued goal, you will get significantly more attention and buy-in.

To get a program like this off the ground, build excitement by publicizing it. Some companies offer a small incentive (such as a coupon for a free cup of coffee) to participants, thus building a little fun into it.

Perhaps most important is leadership’s reinforcement that IDPs contribute to an employee’s success. This attitude has to start at the top of the organization. Managers at all levels must “get with the program” and work to drive participation as high as possible by holding their employees accountable for completing the IDP.

As for the exercise itself, make sure that what you request is not time-consuming, confusing or otherwise painful. Keep it simple but serious. A decent user experience will help you build momentum for next year. If you discover bugs, collect input on how to improve the program from people you know to be thought leaders.

It probably is not realistic to expect 100 percent on-time completion the first time around. But you can get there quickly by building a good foundation and by showing employees how the IDP is important to them personally.

SOURCE: Alan Preston, Preston Leadership Inc., Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
LEARN MORE: Focusing on career development may help boost engagement and retention.

Workforce Management Online, July 2011Register Now!

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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