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What is talent mapping? -
According to Mark Hodgson, practice leader at talent and career
management firm Right Management: Talent mapping could be
described as the process of linking talent management with
strategic workforce planning, managing the balance between an
organisations existing supply of high-performance and
high-potential talent, and the need for different skills and qualities
as the business changes.

This is often undertaken through a nine-box grid mapping tool

which charts individuals skills and capabilities, and assesses them
in terms of performance and potential, says Gary Miles, director of
international operations at leadership institute Roffey Park. It is
important to emphasise high potential is different from high
performance, he points out. High performers may be at the top of
their game, but not be equipped for future changes, whereas
potential is about future, rather than past, performance.

Performance-Potential Matrix

Talent mapping usually starts with managers reviewing current

performance and potential of a section of their workforce to
produce the nine-box grid, says Mr Miles. But it can also be the
result of a wider talent management process where leaders identify
critical job roles for the future, and work backwards to identify the
skills they will require and what they currently have.

Armed with such knowledge, organisations can begin to put in place

measures that should help address any gaps in their employees
skillsets, to ensure theyre able to develop the people and job roles
that will be required in future.

High performers may be at the top of their game, but not be

equipped for future changes

Assessment is of high value to the organisation and individuals,

not only to help gauge how ready someone is for a particular role,
but also to clarify strengths and areas for development, and so help
provide the data for planning a development programme, says
Simon Mitchell, UK general manager, European and multinational
segment marketing director at global talent management

consultancy DDI. The best assessments now allow the data

captured to be manipulated according to varying business
strategies, he adds.

The engineering sector is an example of one that is benefiting from

using talent mapping, says Abdul Uddin, business lead,
infrastructure and manufacturing, at Hay Group, as it seeks to
respond to the challenges of digital technology and globalisation.
Its not enough to simply fill roles for today, its about attracting,
retaining and engaging the right talent who will tackle workforce
challenges for the next five to ten years, he says. Digital experts
are needed to make the most of new technologies, for example,
while large-scale programmes require confident project managers.

Business impact

In reality, though, while many organisations understand the value

of talent mapping, few are actively putting this into practice. Very
few are successfully measuring and realising the business impact,
says Mr Hodgson. Line managers need to capture career
conversations with employees, measure the retention rate of
employees who have gone through their talent mapping or
high-potential programme and look at the business performance
resulting from those individuals. For example, they could measure
how many of those individuals have taken lateral moves as a result
of a talent map or career conversation, compared with individuals
who have not.

But Nichola Batley, head of leadership and management at Thales

Learning and Development, says some organisations are already
starting to plan coaching and development programmes as a result
of talent mapping exercises. Talent mapping can be hugely
beneficial to an organisation, particularly at a time when career
paths are becoming more unpredictable and fragmented, she says.
The organisations that use this most effectively are the ones that go
the extra mile to frame their development plans and ensure a robust
succession plan is in place should any key talent leave the business.