Why team mapping is so important for business leaders

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Team mapping is the practice of creating data profiles of a team based on their skills and personality traits. Having this data enables managers to better understand the dynamics within their teams, which leads to improved communications and increased productivity.

Team mapping can be used by any business regardless of their market sector or size. It can also be used across a company, from product development and IT teams to customer service.

Team maps are often constructed in a similar way to mind maps. These usually begin by writing the name of a staff member in the middle of a page and surrounding their name with their core responsibilities and personality profile, which helps to quickly build a visual definition of an individual that can easily be compared to others. Team maps are particularly useful for businesses with lots of remote workers.

Why is team mapping important for success

All businesses are now paying close attention to the general wellbeing of their staff. Healthy workers are productive. Good mental health, for example, must be supported.

Staff wellbeing

Team maps can track elements like health to identify and resolve early warning signs before they become chronic. Here, team maps also become resilience maps to ensure managers have strong teams that can perform their duties at the highest level.

In 2005, Fujitsu Software Technologies developed the Niko Niko Calendar to measure workers' moods – Niko Niko translates to 'with a smile' in Japanese. Managers were educated on the effects that mood shifts can have on the dynamics and performance of groups. Today, Niko Niko Calendar is used as part of broader team mapping to ensure that mood is always a clearly defined metric.

Aligning skills to business needs

However, before using any team mapping tools, Adam Herbert, CEO and co-founder of Go Live Data, advises that some more work needs to be done first: "When it comes to team skill mapping, you must go back a step and understand the roles and responsibilities of the people you are looking into. Each role in a team or a business has complexities and the skills need to be world-class.”

Herbert continued: “I often then meet with new or existing team members where I map their individual skill sets and highlight where these can make a difference in their day-to-day role. I find a conversation about the role with the individual and talking through their skills is the best way for me to understand where they can add value.”

Career development

One of the most valuable features of team maps is their ability to inform change over time. Team members are not fixed assets. Their skills, outlook and behavior are likely to change. Therefore, their outline on a team map will need to reflect this. Team maps enable managers to see these changes and assess their impacts on other team members and potentially the wider performance of their businesses.

Team maps can also clearly illustrate where career development would be welcomed. As businesses struggle to locate the skilled staff they need, internal recruitment and training can solve this continuing problem.

Performance reviews

Team maps can also be a great tool when used in association with yearly performance assessments. Together they offer a complete view of any team member to gain insights into how they can be supported to further excel in their role.

How to build a team map

The tools and techniques to create team maps are manifold. A simple pen and paper or a white board can suffice for smaller businesses.

However, for larger organisations that also want to use team maps to inform their strategic planning, there are many companies that specialise in providing team mapping digital platforms.

Digital platforms are likely to be far more practical on larger scales, particularly as they have built-in metrics allowing managers to remove uncertainty from the maps they create.

Kirsty Barden, head of business development at Management Development Services, outlined how businesses should begin their team mapping:

1. Define Clear Objectives

Establish specific goals and desired outcomes of the team skills mapping exercise.

2. Embrace Collaboration

Engage both team members and stakeholders to ensure a comprehensive assessment.

3. Remain Flexible

Adapt the process based on feedback and changing organisational needs.

4. Celebrate Success

Recognise and celebrate positive outcomes.

Team mapping, at its best, offers managers a tool to ensure individual skills, mood and personality traits are identified and assessed when compared to the whole team. Operating a successful business needs teams that can work seamlessly together. Team maps offer a practical way to determine how a team works and reveal where changes must be made.


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Haydn Bratt, founder, and partner at Mindset Leadership, says businesses who are new to team mapping should start modestly: “If you are considering implementing this for the first time, my advice would be to start simple - keep skill areas focussed on essential critical skills to start and ensure your rating process is robust.

“You also need to be able to support development that the process might highlight, so it is important to ensure you have resources to take action on things flagged by the mapping.”

Team mapping depends on an effective skills matrix

Regardless of whether you create something by hand or using a service, an essential part of team mapping is creating a skills matrix, which functions as an unambiguous way to visualise skills as part of a team map. The matrix should show each team member's core skills and which team members have similar skills. Colour coding each skill is usually an effective way to see these similarities.

The practical application of the matrix reveals where skills overlap, or vitally which skills are missing from a team when tasked with new service or product development.

Go Live Data’s Adam Herbert outlines a real-world example to ITPro: “I recently had a challenge where one of the members of the sales team was not performing, after sitting down with them it became clear that his skill set was more in keeping with our CSM role, after a lengthy discussion we agreed that a change of role might be a good thing. We moved him over and he is doing a cracking job and adding some real value in the team.”

Why it's important to avoid bias

Sophie Bryan, the founder and chief workplace culture consultant at Ordinarily Different, an organisation offering consultancy and training, advises how to remain objective and remove bias from team maps:

“Some strategies I recommend to help you remain unbiased are conducting an anonymous assessment to help evaluators stay focused on skill sets alone. [This should include] structured evaluation forms with specific criteria for assessing skills. 

“[It’s also important to] have multiple evaluators for the task and preferably from various levels of seniority, and you could also train evaluators on unconscious bias and encourage them to focus solely on objective skill assessments.”

David Howell

David Howell is a freelance writer, journalist, broadcaster and content creator helping enterprises communicate.

Focussing on business and technology, he has a particular interest in how enterprises are using technology to connect with their customers using AI, VR and mobile innovation.

His work over the past 30 years has appeared in the national press and a diverse range of business and technology publications. You can follow David on LinkedIn.