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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Sept. 7, 2022

Why now might be a great time to complete your IDP

By Kathy Murray, MyCG Writer

When Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyler Koch sat down to discuss his Individual Development Plan (IDP) toward the end of August, he was happily surprised by some changes to the process. 

For starters, the IDP form he used to record his personal and professional goals had been condensed into two simplified pages. And since Koch had recently relocated to Air Station Sacramento, it felt like the perfect opportunity to talk to his new boss, Chief Petty Officer Charles McKenzie, about what he wanted to achieve and where that fit in with his long-term plans. 

“My last IDP was three years ago, so I was due,” said Koch, an avionics electrical technician and flight mechanic. “This really jumpstarted the process for me. It was a good chance to look at goals I’d reached and ask whether that was the end of the road, or if I wanted to start something new.” 

As Coast Guard members settle in after PCS season, the service’s human resource specialists are reemphasizing how the IDP should be used. This career development tool is required for all first time enlisted and junior officers to complete and review with their supervisors. However, in the past, a member might have filled out their IDP in conjunction with the evaluation process and quickly forgotten it, notes Chief Warrant Officer 3 Nicole McKenzie, the program manager who oversees the IDP. Now commanding officers and officers in charge are being encouraged to look at the IDP process as a way of getting to know the people at their new units – as a conversation starter that you revisit every six months.  

“The IDP can be such a useful tool for anyone, whether you’re planning career steps or trying to provide a framework for helping a direct report,” Chief Warrant Officer McKenzie said. Although it isn’t required of civilians, she notes, these employees can also use IDPs and benefit from the process.  And you don’t need to wait for your boss to suggest it either. Any employee or member can request an IDP session as discussed in this job aid.  

“We want to change how the IDP is used and how people approach it,” Chief Warrant Officer McKenzie said. “This is not the IDP that everybody remembers and dreads.”  

Shortening the form was a big part of that. Even at two pages, anyone doing an IDP must still concisely lay long-term and short-term career and personal goals, and can include financial and education goals, as well. This provides a wealth of information for the conversations that follow in counseling sessions.  

Chief McKenzie, who supervises 20 people at Air Station Sacramento, says he’s found any reluctance to do an IDP usually disappears when he tells people the form is no longer 19-20 pages. Over the next three months, he plans to go through the IDP process with each new member checking into his unit whom he doesn’t already have a relationship with.  

“I view it as a mentoring and coaching opportunity,” he said. “They’re my subordinates and I’m responsible for developing their careers. I tell them, if I don’t know where you’re going and you want to go, I can’t help you get there.”  

IDP Job Aid 

In the news: 

It’s always a good time to work on your IDP goals 
New: Individual development plans help plan your career