By Tatjana Christian, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command June 25, 2012
FORT EUSTIS, Va. - Are you an Army Soldier, officer or Army civilian who has an individual development plan, or IDP, due in the near future?
If so, you may be interested to know about the newly developed step-by-step navigation tool called the Army Career Tracker that can help create an IDP in a few simple steps.
"ACT provides an easy-to-use interface with supporting technology, which assists the user and supervisor with the creation, approval and tracking of the IDP," said Khadijah Sellers, who works with
U.S Army Training and Doctrine Command's Institute for Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development on streamlining the IDP process within ACT.
According to Sellers, the IDP provides a cross-functional approach to integrating a Soldier's personal and professional development and is focused through the lens of lifelong learning.
Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Williams, career management NCO for the Office of the Chief of Transportation at Fort Lee, Va. said it's important for leaders to motivate their Soldiers to use the ACT and develop their IDPs.
"The fact is it's not enough to dream about promotions, schools and desired positions -- you have to plan a course of action to achieve those goals," Williams said. "I try to promote the use of ACT in every professional development briefing that I give. I tell Soldiers that ACT can help them succeed, and their IDP will give them the necessary steps to achieve their goals."
Not only does Williams encourage his Soldiers to use ACT to develop their IDPs, he uses it for his own development as well.
"One of the best things about creating my IDP is that it is individually tailored to my personal goals," he said. "I can always refer back to my IDP on the ACT site so I can learn and develop new ways to be more effective in my job."
Williams said creating an IDP through ACT is pretty simple.
"When I created my IDP, I used resources that are available on the ACT site for career development such as the Professional Development Model, the Army Training Requirements and Resources System, and Credentialing Opportunities On-Line. If I had a question about a school or a position, the answers are usually hyperlinked and give a thorough explanation after clicking on a link."
IDPs are formed by setting long- and short-term goals in ACT, where the information is automatically populated into the IDP by selecting recommendations based upon the Professional Development Model as IDP goals. These goals can be populated from recommendations for assignment, institutional training, structured self-development, guided self-development, certifications, credentialing and a host of other training resources provided within ACT.
"IDPs can be win-win strategies because they benefit both the Soldier and the organization," Sellers said. "Soldiers benefit because implementing an IDP helps them to enhance their knowledge, skills and experiences. Improved competencies help them achieve personal and career goals both inside and outside the organization. The organization benefits from developing improved Soldier knowledge and abilities."
Sellers added that the most significant impact for Soldiers having the ability to create their IDP within the ACT is the access to the wealth of information.
For new Soldiers, the process allows them to outline their career from their first permanent duty station and to chart a course establishing the qualifications needed for careers in the civilian sector when they transition out of the Army.
Individuals are able to select degree programs and certifications to add to their IDPs. For example, a Soldier who would like to start his or her own business when transitioning out of the Army can select a bachelor's degree program for management studies offered by a university..
So, where do you start with creating an IDP?
Here are a couple of steps to success provided by the Institute for Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development:
1. Visit the Army Career Tracker website, https://actnow.army.mil and click on the IDP tab.
2. To create a new IDP, click on the "Create New IDP" button located under the IDP portlet.
3. To set the IDP time frame, select a "Start Date" for your IDP and the end date will automatically populate.
4. Your IDP will automatically be populated with some established goals; however you can create more by visiting the "IDP Goals" section in ACT. Your IDP will also include your "Institutional Training" and "Civilian Education History" data.
5. Finally, submit your IDP for approval, and print a copy for you and your supervisor to sign. You have now created an IDP.