Blueprint Action #16: Increase the Focus on Talent Mobility

Whether or not an organization is renovating its culture, one of the most successful ways to retain and grow your talent is through a formal program of mobility. i4cp’s research has shown that top organizations are twice as likely to emphasize talent mobility, and it’s a common technique of very healthy cultures. Despite that finding, talent mobility remains incredibly underutilized in organizations around the world.

The main impediment? It’s almost always the managers themselves. Half of companies i4cp surveyed (and 74 percent of low performers) report that managers’ failure to encourage movement was their top obstacle to mobility. The reason? Too often people managers are “talent hoarders,” a natural reaction. If you’ve ever managed people, you likely are guilty of this as well. These managers understandably want to hang on to their top people instead of proactively moving them elsewhere in the organization. Some even intentionally hide their top talent, so no one discovers and poaches them.

The best way to combat talent hoarding is to recognize, and even reward, managers who rotate talent—especially high-potential talent—through the organization. These organizations build mobility into performance objectives, loudly provide internal recognition, compensate managers for their ability to both develop people, and provide them opportunities for further development. In short, they build a culture that relies on this movement.

And often in this new environment, those former talent hoarders become talent magnets. Everyone wants to go work for the person who has a reputation of advancing employees’ careers. It’s like flipping a light switch—as soon as managers recognize they can continue to be successful because top talent wants to work with them, they become mobility and development champions.

Building a culture of mobility requires a mindset that formalizes it as a talent development strategy. When internal mobility is left up to chance, it typically doesn’t happen.

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