Weapons to use in a talent war
The CIOs of IBM Australia, Aristocrat Leisure and Sinclair Knight Merz have seen it all before. For varying degrees of time they have employed talent retention strategies to ensure they don’t become talent war casualties.
Like many executives charged with ensuring their business has the commercial smarts and technical grunt to prosper post-global financial crisis, they have found an effective weapon in career mapping. Easy to say: Difficult to do well.
Career mapping helps IT executives identify talented technical staff and chart their career paths — where they start, where they want to go and the skills needed in between to make it happen. It enables IT organisations and employees to choose paths that build intersections between individual career aspirations and the needs of the business.
IBM’s global career development program, Career Smart, is a resource centre for career and learning guidance. It is admired by CIOs around the world. Career Smart is the latest evolution of a tactic employed by IBM for many years. It is extremely popular with its vast audience. And, with more than 400,000 employees and 100,000 contractors in 170 countries, IBM is one of the world’s largest employers.
Career mapping helps IT executives identify talented technical staff and chart their career paths
“Having the right people at the right time is critical for IBM,” Godbee says. “Part of that is getting the right people, but it’s also retaining the right people. Sometimes it’s retaining the people with the right aptitude. They may not have the specific skills you need now, but if they have the aptitude to be trained in those skills you want to keep them.
“Career Smart covers our entire business and includes everything about job roles, career management and skills development. People can see how to develop a career path in any particular area.”
For example, a graduate who wants to be an IT architect will move along the architect career path. They start as an associate architect, move to an advisory senior architect at various levels, right through to what IBM calls a distinguished engineer — a high level expert. So if someone knows architecture is where they want to be, they can see precisely what they need to do. No ifs, buts or maybes. Along the way, each job level demands certain capabilities and competencies. They come partly from who a person is, but also from the specific skills they need to excel in that area. Once a person has the basic capabilities and competencies, they develop the specialist skills and build the experience they need to progress.
“It’s about demonstrating the expertise you need in order to move through the various levels,” says Godbee.
Next: How CIOs have implemented career planning within their organisations.
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