Based on the collected information, Keefe says the company works with individuals at all levels, including management, to determine what opportunities are available for them down the road and what they can do to be ready for them.
Benefits to the company include improved succession planning and a vibrant workplace of challenged, engaged employees, Keefe says.
But there can be downsides to career mapping for employers, he warns. At Mueller Water, a midlevel IT manager realized after he'd completed the mapping process that the company didn't have the position he aspired to. So the 10-year veteran, whom Keefe says he saw as a future IT leader, took a job at another company where he could gain the skills he needed to do what he wanted, which was to run a manufacturing facility.
IT leaders who use career mapping say organizations can't rely on employee input alone if they want such programs to succeed. Company leaders must also go through the exercise, with the goal of understanding and articulating the requirements of different positions and then outlining the skills and experience required to do each job.
That process "helps the organization answer the question 'What kind of talent do we need?' " says Caela Farren, president of MasteryWorks, a career and talent management consulting firm in Falls Church, Va.
Farren's firm works with companies to identify the core competencies required for particular jobs, the positions that will be key for future growth and development, and any new positions that will come into existence -- plus the skills and accomplishments that will qualify people for those jobs.
With all of that information spelled out in one place, managers can easily identify what staff resources they'll need going forward and whether they have that talent in-house or will have to seek it elsewhere.
This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.
6 Key Components of a Career Map
At its core, career mapping is about setting long-term professional goals and objectives that go beyond the targets established during annual reviews, says Ginny Clarke, president and CEO of Talent Optimization Partners in Chicago.