Talent Mapping Your Business

Successful business strategies are only complete when they incorporate both a short and long term vision for your organization’s talent needs. Talent mapping can be an invaluable tool for articulating that vision and making it a reality. Initial attempts to map your talent may have you looking at the existing roles within your organization, evaluating who currently fills them, and contemplating who could fill them in the future. However, talent mapping is more than putting names on an organizational chart or slotting individuals next to speculative job titles. The process should begin with an analysis of where the roads merge between your map for business growth and your valued employee’s career potential based on their aspirations, competencies and interests. This will take time, communication and flexibility, but if your mapping can be refined to fit the both the individual’s and the organization’s vision for the future, you have hit the sweet spot.

Talent takes on many shapes, and the key to a robust talent mapping strategy is creativity. Obviously, your business needs – current and future – need to remain at the forefront of your planning but, by balancing strengths on the current team with the gaps that need to be addressed, you might find some promising solutions on your own doorstep. 

For example, if you have someone who is great at both sales and recruiting, creating a hybrid role may be a better route to high performance for that person. What are the risks involved with relegating them to only one function, and then going outside to hire for the other one? Is there a better way that you could allocate your resources and support this person as they handle both responsibilities? Great organizational design puts business needs first, but in the small to mid-size enterprise, the reality is that retaining and developing key individuals who add value because of their broad or particularly unique skill set, can work to the long term benefit of the business.

Another situation can arise when you have a leader who is excellent at all parts of their job except for one. Is there a way to revise things and move that particular responsibility to someone else? Sometimes we dim the shine of a star by trying to get all five points to be an equal length, but perhaps it’s their lopsidedness that makes them a star and creates a winning combination of attributes that would be difficult to find in another individual. 

Too often we see an effectively functioning team torn apart because employees have grown beyond their traditional job title.  There are many ways to utilize and develop people’s burgeoning areas of competency that will strengthen their level of engagement and commitment while helping you to effectively meet your short and long term business needs. Often, permission to expand beyond an aging job description and the resources and support to be, and feel, successful can work wonders to keep key talent engaged. 

Do your homework and have some frank conversations with your best people about where they feel they can add value to your organization in the future. Be clear about your vision and listen closely to the ways that they feel they align with it. By anticipating what you’ll need, understanding what you’ve got, and exploring where you can be flexible, the talent map can be a dynamic tool as it takes shape to move you and your people forward.