The Value of an IDP: Sharpening My Focus, Controlling My Destiny and Improving My Agency


This past Thursday I participated in the GovLoop webinar about Individual Development Plans (IDPs). I work for a unit of local government that does not require IDPs or anything similar so I was not familiar with the concept but I am interested in career advancement and so I thought it worth the hour.

Kathleen Flora and Steve Ressler did a nice job of putting individual development into perspective. They provided a lot of information about the nuts and bolts of developing an IDP. They encouraged us to seek opportunities for training that involved a fee and time away from the office as well as opportunities that exist within our current work environments such as shadowing a manager, presenting something to a new group or taking on an additional task or committee assignment. They talked about really focusing in on what specific skills I wanted to develop and creating a win-win situation with my agency so the skills I am acquiring are those that are needed by the agency as well as being desirable to me for my own career advancement and self fulfillment.

I appreciated but expected all of that advice. What I did not expect was the strong refrain from Kathleen Flora encouraging and empowering each of us to take charge of our own careers. She reinforced how we are our own best (sometimes only) advocate. There are times when it gets so busy with work and family that taking the step to think about my career and my personal development or skill development and it will benefit my agency is the furthest thing from my mind.  There just doesn’t seem to be time to tackle think about myself and I often feel selfish if I take time to do so.

What I realized during the course of Kathleen’s presentation is that it doesn’t make sense for me personally or for my agency for me to neglect my individual development. The skills and talents that I bring to my agency are just as important to my productivity as continuing to bear down and to churn out work for my agency. When I stifle my own enthusiasm and limit my skills, I am both limiting myself and limiting my efficiency in my agency.

How do you develop confidence to develop your own potential and to improve your contribution to your agency?

Carolyn Ninedorf is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Enjoyed the article. True statements within especially on making time for self. As a working mother, work/life balance is very challenging at times to achieve. Re-focusing on the career journey versus the day-to-day of work and life helps with laying down plans for career advancement. Write down what you would like to do and commit to putting it on the calendar. Each person’s path will be different considering their circumstances.

Mark Maurer

It’s true that we have to look out for ourselves. I’ve found that as I gotten more technically advanced in an area that there are very few training opportunities within my agency that will help me because my co-workers and staff are the experts in our fields and others look to us for training. So that means we have to go outside to keep up with evolving ideas. We also propose and oversee research and that helps to keep us fresh and thinking about the future.
I don’t usually do new year’s resolutions but I do take the time to reflect on the past year and set goals for the new year. I believe in life long learning so I’m always looking for things to stretch me. It may not be related to my work, but I often find that there are things I learn that I can apply to work.

Catherine Andrews

Great post, Carolyn. I especially love this quote and realization – so important for all of us to think about: “When I stifle my own enthusiasm and limit my skills, I am both limiting myself and limiting my efficiency in my agency.”

I feel like that could go on a GovLoop t-shirt or sticker!