Jobs come and go but people who are the “best at what they do” and who have achieved the highest recognition for their skills and knowledge in their profession are treasured forever. What are the critical professions and trades in your organization? Where can employees contribute and build knowledge and skill in these core professions? What professions and competencies are the most important for the growth of your organization? Which professions are mission-imperative?
Career Maps provide a key to these questions and others. Career Maps contain detailed information to facilitate choices, based on individual talent and organizational needs. Thus, they enable HR organizations and employees separately or together to choose development paths that build intersections between career aspirations and the needs of the business.
Like a GPS in your car, Career Maps display alternative routes to build mastery in the core professions. Mastery is being the “best you can be” and those who achieve mastery of their professions or trades are leaders, mentors and innovators. The knowledge, skills and ability that mastery requires is enduring and guides both simple day-to-day decisions as well as complex challenges. For example, we saw professional mastery in the air when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger safely pancaked his aircraft in the Hudson River and when Captain Richard Phillips traded places at sea to save his ship and crew from Somali highjackers. Both men are examples of professionals who crafted career paths of personal and professional development. At the pinnacle of their professions and through love of their work, they possessed the inherent courage and confidence that accompanies mastery. For that reason, many owe their lives to their professional mastery – their knowledge, skills and abilities. They demonstrate the importance of working at something that you love, that you have passion for, and being the “best you can be.” In both cases, Captain “Sully” and Captain Phillips were masters in the core professions of their organizations.
In today’s tumultuous times, organizational needs have turned career management topsy-turvy. Business concerns have trampled career paths, leaving careers moving in fits and spurts, - or gone altogether. With millions of jobs lost last year, rigid notions about career management, with its ladders, lattices, linear and lateral career progression have been tossed out the window or put on the back burner. Contemporary times have produced chaotic change in human capital forcing many managers, leaders and employees to confront a jumble of jobs and hierarchies that complicate every phase of staffing, from recruitment to management to career development. In many cases, bottom-line numbers masked the discussion of core and secondary professions needed to achieve organization missions and strategies. People were tossed out independent of their wisdom and mastery.
What Is Career Mapping?
The bricks and mortar of a coherent learning and development structure are built on a foundation of knowledge and experience required for excellence in each core profession. Career Maps provide both organizations and employees with the tools for building and maintaining the wisdom and know-how to confront a complicated jumble of jobs. A Career Map is a visual, codified approach to career management. It is a masterful roadmap to excellence in a confused and radically changing workforce.
Career Mapping begins with cataloguing the core professions of an organization. The most effective career mapping designs are based upon professions rather than centered on jobs and compensation schemes. Career Maps should identify key knowledge areas and the skills and abilities to master each of the core professions. Identifying the professions within an organization, organizing a list of core and secondary professions, and establishing the percentages of people comprising each profession is essential and one of the most difficult tasks in designing powerful Career Maps.
Where do you start? After identifying each of the professions in an organization, carefully label them. The next step is critical and difficult. Draw a pie diagram, illustrating the percentage of people in each of the core professions. Now you can see where there are the most and the least career options. You can create a common language and guidance system by clearly defining and applying (where possible) each of the nine elements described below to each of the professions. Gather the information through interviews, focus groups, meetings, and advice from “Subject Matter Experts.”