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NEWS | Feb. 14, 2022

It’s About the Conversation – Individual Development Plans at NNSY

By Courtesy of NNSY Command University Norfolk Naval Shipyard

You may be hearing an acronym at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) known as IDP. Acronyms can bring to mind more paperwork and more bureaucracy. But this acronym is different. The IDP, which stands for Individual Development Plan, benefits both the employee and leadership.  In fact, the Department of Defense requires that all civilian employees have an IDP and have required it for some time. 

So what is an IDP? It is the formal follow-up to an informal conversation that many employees and their supervisors or managers have. It is the documentation of a discussion, and this documentation is owned and developed by the employee, not the supervisor or manager.

You see, the objective of the IDP is to empower the employee to take charge of their own career while ensuring the organization has the right people in the right positions at the right time to positively impact NNSY. The IDP is an action plan developed by the employee which describes goals and activities they would like to pursue to attain those goals.  These goals are both short term and long-term goals.  The short-term goals are objectives established by the employee to ensure they maintain proficiency in their current role while pursuing their long-term career development goals.  This is a twofold benefit because it improves employee performance, morale and job satisfaction while leadership can focus on workforce planning and improved employee performance.

You may ask, “Why do we need to put these conversations in writing?” 

“That’s a great question,” said Dave Randall, one of NNSY's Career Counselors.  “First, it is required, but more importantly not everyone has these conversations.  It can be daunting to have a discussion for fear that you don’t have the answers or you will lose employees to new employment opportunities.  It seems easier to not address the issue.”

However, the development of our employees is the issue, and if we don’t engage, we are going to lose some of the best people America’s workforce has to offer to other industry employers.  “I recently had a discussion with an engineer for the City of Norfolk who stated ‘we are both trying to hire the same people,’” said Randall.

Here is the good part - the discussion is easy. The majority of the administrative work (and there isn’t much) is completed by the employees who own their IDP.  The IDP is not a binding document and does not guarantee advancement or school quotas or pay raises, but it does help people in achieving their goals. 

“Take for instance, an employee who plans on retiring in four years,” said Randall.  “During the conversation the employee says, ‘I don’t plan on moving up in the organization, I am happy doing the job I am doing and I plan on retiring in four years.’ Basically the IDP will say, ‘there is no change desired in my work role and I am interested in planning for retirement in the next four years.’”  This agreement is simple and doesn’t take much time, but it lets leadership prepare for an expected gap in four years and they can begin developing others to fill the gap.  In addition, the IDP documents the need for resources (namely money) to attend retirement planning training or for special programs such as leadership development opportunities.

So, where do we go to get answers? “Well, before we started this drive to ensure every employee has an IDP, we wanted to make sure that when questions were raised, both employees and leaders could find the answers,” said Randall.  “During the conversation the answers can be as simple as ‘I don’t know, let’s ask the career counselors.’”

NNSY created the NNSY Workforce Development (WFD) office, which focuses on consolidating all of the career development resources and information into one location.  It begins with a visit to the NNSY WFD Sharepoint site and can be followed up with a conversation with one of NNSY's two career counselors.  Beginning in Feb. 2022, employees are authorized three one-on-one consultations with career counselors who can discuss anything from career self-assessment, resume assistance to retirement planning and more.

If you are not ready to begin the conversations or don’t know where to start, please feel free to contact the NNSY career counselors at NNSY_WFD@navy.mil.  You can also locate their SharePoint site in the Command University site under Workforce Development.