Nowadays, no one would say talent development is unimportant if you ask anyone working in a corporation.  So many articles, white papers, and surveys have shown that talent development is one of the most pressing priorities for organizations.  As for the employees, if you look at engagement surveys, exit interviews data, etc., career development is one of the top reasons for employees to stay, or not. 

Despite the importance of talent development from both organizations' and employees' perspectives, when we talk about Individual Development Plans (IDP), we often would hear from employees or even their managers, that they don't need an IDP, because the employees are not looking for promotion. 

IDP is a tool owned by the employees and supported by their managers to develop skills and competencies for their short-term and long-term goals.  It identifies specific development objectives, actions, and timelines.  Although organizations are constantly looking for driven and capable high potential talents, it is true not every employee has the same career aspiration, not everyone wants to be a CEO, and that's OK.  The truth is,  organizations need steady and solid performers to run their day-to-day operations.  Does that mean steady Eddies don't need development plans?  Is IDP only for people who want to climb the corporate ladder? 

As HR professionals, let's think about our own jobs for a second.  How much have our jobs changed?  Active and creative sourcing is replacing passive waiting for applications.  Technology has reshaped our work to be more efficient but more complex.  Traditional classroom training quickly and drastically transitioned into virtual learning, thanks to the pandemic.  Globalization, sustainability, diversity & inclusion, and personalization add extra challenges and opportunities to the HR function.  Unavoidably, we are not doing our job the same way as before. The only way to keep up, even better, to stay ahead of the curve, is to learn and develop ourselves continuously, not even for promotion, just to do our job.

The same goes for every job out there.  You have seen it.  Jobs become obsolete, skills and knowledge required by jobs become obsolete, career path becomes more fluid and nonlinear, and the changes are coming down fast and furious.

We have read enough articles about VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) environment, we have witnessed enough companies' rise and fall, and we have handled enough organizational restructures.  Even though it might be controversial to say so, I feel that loyalty to an organization means a different thing now.  It is no longer about how committed you are or how many years you stay with a company.    Instead, it is a fair deal, how much you contribute to the company's success and how much the company supports your personal development.  Of course, you have to be willing to learn and develop.   An IDP is not just for promotion; it is for anyone to stay current in their job and gain transferrable skills that they can take with them anywhere they go. 

We don't want to scare our employees with job security, but on the other hand, it is our responsibility to coach our employees and their managers on the new reality.  Willingness and capability to learn and develop is the determining factor for job security and employability.  An IDP might be the perfect first step for that.