Development Maps: The Bridge from One-off to a Complete Development Roadmap

Successful companies are proactive about employee development.  And to ensure alignment with and benefit for the business, they account for the entirety of the knowledge, skills, and contexts facing their employees – in short, they know job performance is paramount.

At Actio Learning, our goal is to give our clients an edge in the market. We use Development Maps to create engaged, confident, capable employees who perform at world-class levels.

Like a roadmap guides you to your destination, Development Maps provide a sequenced, structured, often graphical map of informal and formal learning experiences to lead your employees on their development journey, and ultimately, to performance mastery.

From an organizational perspective, a Development Map encourages the broader idea of employee development; it goes beyond clusters of one-off courses or learning experiences to string together and account for all the developmental experiences needed for an employee to grow and advance in an organization.

Depending on the situation, Development Maps can be extensive, stretching across several years or simple, targeting business goal in a short timespan.

For most employees, using multiple lists of courses isn’t as useful as the visual representation of a Development Map. Cues like proximity, left-to-right relationships, arrows, dependencies, and timelines provide insights that help an employee assemble the turn-by-turn directions on their development journey.

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Development Maps often include:

  • Phases – Logical groups of activities often sorted by timeline or achievement milestones. There is no right number of phases, a Map can include three, four, five, or six or more phases.

  • Timeline – Defines how long it typically takes to get from one development milestone to the next, and all the way to performance mastery.  

  • Information about the development or learning experience, such as type/modality, length, prerequisite, etc.

How are Development Maps Different?

Development Maps are different than traditional training plans or course catalogs because of some underlying principles.

Performance focus. The intent of a Development Map is to create employees who perform at or above expectations by linking and sequencing enabling knowledge and skills with real-world context so employees achieve specific performance outcomes.

Variety of development experiences. Employee development involves a variety of experiences including formal learning, informal learning, on the job experiences, and resources available (such as job aids or EPSS content). A Development Map connects them all in an easy to understand visual roadmap.

Learner-centric. Employees are often are left to figure out how to use multiple training paths, lists, or checklists to navigate their way through on-boarding, compliance training, soft skill training, developing technical skills, etc. Without guidance, it can be difficult to fit all the pieces together – taking more time than is necessary and impacting employee satisfaction and engagement. A Development Map makes everyones’ lives easier because it shows all the elements of the entire developmental experience from the learner’s perspective – all in one place.

Balances structure and flexibility. An employee’s development journey is rarely “one size fits all”. A Development Map provides structure (the flow and sequence of learning experiences) and allows flexibility to ensure a fit with an employee’s individual needs (bypassing knowledge and skills they already have or by accelerating the development timeframe, for example). A Development Map provides a level of personalized learning since it curates a focused list of highly relevant learning experiences from the vast sea of potential experiences. Many learning technologies today (LMS, CMS, and adaptive learning platforms) can take that personalization to a higher level through use of data analytics and artificial intelligence.

How do you know you have a good Development Map?

Use this quick check to determine whether you have a good Development Map.

  • Is it inclusive? Its all in one place, including different types development activities from different sources, and it doesn’t require the employee to do additional research, or go to multiple locations to piece together a plan.

  • Does it reflect the job? Job performance can easily be reverse engineered using the development experience names, milestones, etc., so an employee can readily recognize the primary and many of the secondary facets of their role.

  • Is it logically organized? At a glance, the structure, labels, and names make immediate sense to those who do the job – it’s written so that those in the role, and their managers, understand it.

To learn more about the benefits of a Development Map, follow this link.

For more information on how Actio Learning’s Development Maps can give your organization an edge on employee performance and engagement, please contact us at

Brian BleckeComment