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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Aug. 10, 2021

It's always a good time to work on your IDP goals

By Janki Patel, MyCG Writer

A new two-page Individual Development Form allows the U.S. Coast Guard workforce to create a more efficient and actionable Individual Development Plan (IDP) than in the past to further your career and personal goals. 

The IDP process allows supervisors to engage with their members and take the time to discuss their personal and professional development needs or aspirations at least once a year. As part of the PCS process, supervisors should to use the form as new members check into their unit. 

An IDP is commonly used in professional workforce development to help employees define and pursue their short and long-term career goals, as well as improve current job performance. It is not a performance evaluation tool or a one-time activity. It should be looked at like a collaborative document between the employee and the supervisor. It involves preparation and continuous feedback designed to create a mutually-agreed upon action plan on how to get there together. 

IDPs are mandatory for first-term enlisted members and junior officers—both active duty and reservists—assigned to a permanent duty station. IDPs are optional, but highly encouraged, for mid-grade officers and civilian employees.  

Coast Guard flag officers and senior executive service (SES) are required to complete an annual Executive Development Plan (EDP), similar to the IDP, under the DHS Leadership Development Program. 

“The updated IDP and EDP form process will help guide communication of individual development between Coast Guard personnel and their supervisors and provide a holistic approach towards individual development that is less labor intensive and more effective than before,” said Capt. Julie P. Kuck, chief of the Office of Leadership. “The time, energy, and effort you put into the process will be rewarding. I strongly encourage U.S. Coast Guard members and civilians to use the concise, two-page IDP form to assess your skills and map out possible career paths” 

According to Chief Warrant Officer Nicole E. McKenzie, the core benefits of IDPs include: 

  • Professional development 
  • Career planning 
  • Goal setting and tracking and measuring outcomes 
  • Communication and discussions with supervisors 
  • Promoting inclusion 
  • Opportunities for mentorship 
  • Aligning goals to organizational initiatives 

How do you develop an IDP? 

The IDP process requires communication and interaction between the supervisor and employee. It involves five phases: 

  1. Pre-Planning - supervisor and employee prepare independently for meeting. 
  2. Employee/Supervisor Meeting - discuss employee strengths, areas for improvement, interests, goals, and organizational requirements. 
  3. Prepare IDP - employee, in consultation with supervisor, completes a plan for individual development. 
  4. Implement Plan - employee pursues training and development identified in the plan. 
  5. Evaluate Outcomes - supervisor and employee evaluate usefulness of training and development experiences. 

Alyssa J. Lombardi, who is on rotation in the FORCECOM Civilian Career Management Office, provided some insight on the benefits of using the IDP form and process based on her experience: 

  • The new IDP form is as in-depth as you want to make it for yourself. It includes education and financial planning—where you are currently with each and where you would like to be—in addition to career planning, and I feel that is important because both are important factors in forming your decisions. 
  • It separates out both personal and professional short and long-term goals, which is helpful because it makes two separate areas of your life tangible, so that you may design your personal and professional growth using feedback from both. 
  • The form prompts you to make SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound. This helps you to be more thoughtful in creating them and gives guidance to those who may be filling out an IDP for the first time. 

The IDP should be a living and evolving document, serving as a catalyst for ongoing discussions about your professional development. Make a habit of revisiting it regularly for your continuous professional growth in the future.  

Access the Individual Development Plan form here.