“Internal mobility” and “career development”: both are critical concepts for HR and business leaders aiming to create high-performing organizations. But concepts aside – how do mobility and employee career development really tie together practically? Phillip Roark, CEO at Insala, with over 15 years of experience implementing and advising best-practice career development initiatives at Fortune 500 companies, explains:
When it comes to implementing successful mobility initiatives, employee career development plays a critical role. Why? A mobility initiative that includes opportunities for employee career development will generate maximum ROI by ensuring that people will move around to roles that are most suited to their personality, strengths, and skillset. As we all know well – gaining support from executive sponsors is the starting point for the success of any talent initiative. Senior executives themselves are not necessarily concerned with either mobility or career development – their job is to generate maximum efficiency and profit in a consistent, innovative, and ethical way. HR then becomes the facilitator that must achieve efficiency and profitability through its people strategy. To do this, they need to get the right talent into the right positions. What is one great way to achieve this? By enabling internal mobility.
Very commonly – it is the recruitment department that owns internal mobility initiatives. Staffing from within the company can be used as a cost-effective recruitment strategy driving a highly valued externality - knowledge retention. But then how will a mobility initiative be communicated to employees? To managers? This is where career development has to come back in the picture. For a mobility initiative to be successful, it is best to communicate the initiative to employees and managers as a career development initiative. Otherwise, employees might “run amuck” and change their jobs for various random reasons – without ensuring they will actually be effective at different roles. “Mobility” would thus be a waste of their time.
A badly communicated mobility initiative certainly has consequences for HR and the organization too. If the people who apply to a job internally happen to be unsuited for it, or have no way of understanding what is required, this will waste HR’s time, translating into ROI loss for the organization. HR might end up not putting the right people in the right roles – or will do so in a very inefficient way. But if individuals have access to self-service career tools that help them identify: a) where they are in their career, b) where they would like to be, and c) how to execute a plan to fill those gaps based on the process and allowances in the organization, this is beneficial for both the individual AND the organization.
Individuals conduct what they call career development – a term that is increasingly meaningful for them. As an example of how career development might take place, employees might share their career assessments results and career development plans with managers – which creates transparency and facilitates managerial trust and support. And as we know – managers are critical allies for communicating HR’s message to all employees – and we cannot afford to lose them as allies. As a crucial part of the development process, individuals should have the opportunity to identify the roles they would be best at, and get themselves up to speed to take those roles. If there is a mobility process in place, the right individuals can actually self-select for appropriate internal roles (significantly cheaper than hiring externally). HR then accomplishes its goal of getting the right people into the right roles in an efficient, cost-effective way.
This becomes what they call a successful mobility initiative. Again – this mobility initiative is best communicated to employees and managers as a “career development initiative”. When there is a best-practice process in place to ensure that the right people are in the right roles, HR and executive sponsors will see results reflected in increased employee retention, productivity, and mobility figures.