20 Questions to Assess the Quality of an Individual Development Plan

I’ve written about how
to write a great individual development plan
(IDP) – it’s my all-time most
popular post, with over 300,000 hits. So what’s the difference between a “great”
IDP and one that’s destined to sit on a shelf and gather dust?

Here’s a checklist I’ve used to evaluate the quality of a leader’s
individual development plan. Use it to evaluate your own plan or to coach others.


1. Has the IDP been generated/updated within the last 12 months?

2. Is the IDP complete?

3. Are the development actions substantial?

4. To what extent is there connectivity between the career path, leadership
assessment, development needs and planned development actions?

5. Are leadership assessment results linked with the IDP when applicable?


6. Are multiple types of formal and informal learning approaches integrated
into the planned activities?

7. To what extent do the planned actions reflect a bias for experiences rather
than coursework?

8. How much creativity is reflected in the planned actions?

9. Does the plan offer an opportunity to enhance strengths, as well as address

10. Have “significant other people”, coaches and/or mentors, been identified?

11. Are challenging assignments and projects represented?

12. Are there opportunities for development across organizational boundaries?
Accelerated Development:
13. How quickly will the planned actions prepare someone for his/her potential
next position?
14. Have aggressive timeframes for accomplishing development actions been
15. Does the plan include specific development needs? (i.e., leadership,
communications, financial or planning skills are very broad.) The development
opportunities should identify the specific skills, knowledge and/or behaviors
that are to be acquired or enhanced.
16. Has a specific timeframe within which the development will be initiated
and/or completed been identified?
17. Are there concrete planned actions directly aligned to each identified
development need?
Consistent with business
needs and succession plans:
18. Is the individual’s career plan consistent with succession plans?
19. Do development needs and planned actions support current and future
business objectives?
20. Will planned actions prepare the individual for the future (succession) vs.
too much focus on current role?