Career Framework Mapping – the Do’s & Don’ts

Managing the growing career aspirations of a diverse workforce is proving to be a big challenge for HR Departments. In response, many organisations are introducing new career frameworks. The purpose of a career framework is to show employees where they sit in the overall organisation, what job family they belong to and what competencies are required to succeed in their current role or other roles.

But the career framework is only a visual representation of all of the roles, job families and levels in the organisation. It’s a lot like getting a map of a six storey hotel complex which shows you that it has so many rooms on each floor. The rooms on the bottom floor room cost less and the room rate increases as you move up the floors until you reach the suite on the top floor. This top floor, where the CEO resides, should give them a panoramic view of everything going on in the Organisation.

The map is not the territory

However, the map is not the territory; it is purely a visual representation of the Organisation. What many forget when introducing career frameworks is that the map does not show the reality of what is really going on. It fails to show the many broken lifts in the hotel stopping great people from moving up, the rooms that are locked by managers trying to hide their talent, those who have reached the fifth floor through having a corporate sponsor, the rooms that were acquired as a favour as part of a special thank you, the rooms where poor performers lie, where the lifers reside and rarely ever check out and the mission critical rooms – where the most talented inhabit. And if they were to leave it would automatically raise the alarm on all floors; it may even lead to an evacuation of more talented people in time.

Top 7 Challenges with Implementing a Career Framework

Before an organisation considers building a career framework it needs to get the foundations right. From our experience, here are the top seven challenges that need to be addressed in launching and implementing a new career framework:

  1. A career framework needs to be an organisation wide initiative and not just something that HR imposes on the business. It’s important to set up a cross functional working group who are representative of the diverse departments and workforce in the organisation.
  2. Career progression is mostly seen by employees as promotion, a pay increase and a new job title. There needs to be a shift in mindset that career progression is about building new skills and breadth in your career and not just promotion.
  3. In a new career framework, employees will see where they sit as part of the whole organisation. It is imperative that realistic career journeys are included on the framework to spotlight potential career building moves through both lateral and vertical moves across functional silos. These potential career journeys then spark career conversations for employees to have outside of their own function. This broadens their mindset about the career options available to them internally rather than jumping ship and can prove an excellent retention strategy.
  4. Managers need to understand the benefit of having career conversations with not only their own reports but also with those across the business. This is a major stumbling block as often managers are purely focused on hitting the business numbers and ‘fear the soft and fluffy career development discussions’. The reality is that recruiters are calling these same employees on office time with new job offers. They are offering employees more career development time than their managers which is a huge missed opportunity. Managers need to enable their people create new career growth opportunities. See our recent blog on a new model for talent retention here
  5. Talented Millennials are seeking rapid promotion and are often disappointed that it’s not possible to get promoted every second year. The reality is that organisations are flatter today so lateral career building moves are the only realistic way to grow a career and this needs to be communicated.
  6. There needs to be a greater acceptance that talent will leave whatever you do. Holding back employees is not good for business or their career growth. If an organisation doesn’t have a role that can offer them career growth, then an adult to adult career conversation must take place. They will appreciate it and may come back again with newer skills in a few years or even recommend a colleague to come work for the firm now.

Career Development Principles workshop

We have created a Career Development Principles workshop for OD, L&D and HR specialists within organisations tasked with introducing Career Frameworks. The workshop provides a structured template to guide and challenge participants thinking on the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ involved in introducing career frameworks into a unique culture.

Career Development needs to be for everyone. In the past, Talent Management was the preserve of the chosen high potentials selected for the swift lift to the next floor. We have created a 24-7 anywhere, anytime access Gateway Career Portal which offers employees their own bespoke Career Framework map plus thousands of Career Development resources at the type of cost that makes business sense for companies of any size. Check out this two minute video tutorial of our career management portal.


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