Internal Mobility is one of the pillars of Talent Management. However, internal mobility of a random nature creates more upheavals than build a talent pipeline.
The advent of the fourth industrial revolution has triggered a tectonic shift, that has rarely, if at all, been witnessed in corporate history. Business models are being reexamined from a newer lens – primarily centred around solving customer problems, and possible ways to resolve them with a mix of technology and personalisation. It is wellknown that repetitive or purely logical/rule-based work (i.e. work that operates primarily on a predefined set of guidelines, including those for exceptions) are being reviewed increasingly to be handed over to intelligent machines. This triggers an important question i.e. what will be the roles that will have meaning for humans?
As more and more rule-based work gets automated, human capabilities are going to augment machines for such work, and exclusive human talent is going to be needed for roles that demand critical thinking, complex problem solving, applying creative ideas for business opportunities, and works of art. In addition to these, human capabilities would be immensely needed for work on designing algorithms for computer programmes, and creating data analysis models for application. On the face of it, these skills are diverse in nature, but in the business context, they are complimentary.
Interestingly, Talent, in most of these roles also demonstrate a skewed demand and supply balance resulting from multiple factors. In such a scenario, it must be ensured that some of the tried and tested talent management approaches are appropriately applied, taking into consideration the business context to create a superior Employee Value Proposition. Internal Mobility is one of the pillars of Talent Management. However, internal mobility of a random nature creates more upheavals than build a talent pipeline. Some thoughts to consider while applying internal mobility as a talent management tool are as follows: -
As rule-based work gets automated, exclusive human talent is going to be needed for roles that demand critical thinking, complex problem solving, applying creative ideas for business opportunities, and for works of art.
Creating awareness about the evolution of business:
This remains to be the topmost priority for any talent management practice to work successfully on the ground. This means ongoing, frequent, and relevant discussions led by the leaders in the direction of the organisation’s progress. This also needs to include a view of the crucial skills to succeed and contribute to the organisation’s progress, and the probable roles associated with it. The learning partners then need to ensure that a significant part of all resources, if built internally, are employed towards building that capability.
Building transparency around the roles and the capabilities required:
No amount of communication is overstated to ensure that people across the length and breadth of the organisation become aware of roles that are likely to evolve from time to time, and the capabilities required to succeed in those roles. Again, it is not enough to publish the roles just in time, but create awareness of the roles ahead of time (maybe 3 or 6 months ahead of the actual role opening up). This, in turn, would provide a head start for people to plan, prepare, and develop skills to be ready for the role. It is quite possible that given the rapidly evolving nature of business, even 3 months of advance planning might be a challenge. In such a scenario, an overview on some of the basic skills around the role would help aspirants to have some time to build capability.
Learning opportunities on the job:
The importance of this aspect of talent management cannot be replaced with any alternative intervention. The power of learning on the job exceeds all other forms of capability development. However, the success of the model is dependent on a couple of hygiene points, viz. the organisation’s risktaking appetite. This means, how willing is the organisation to take a calculated risk to expose its people (mostly top talent) to newer type of work. Now, assuming that they have not done a similar job in the past, it is possible that there might be a few learning moments for them as they progress in their new roles. And it is here that the tolerance for error and the ability to learn from experience assumes vital importance. It is a culture that needs to be a part of the DNA of the organisation to make such on the job learning model to succeed. Other enablers include a seasoned mentor for the role and active involvement by the manager.
In scenarios where is not possible to provide on the job learning in new roles, or may take time, another tried and tested model of building capability and also creating a talent pipeline is carried out through the process of stretched assignment. In this model, people are offered additional responsibilities in the form of projects, special assignments etc. which are often outside the regular scope of work. In this model, the employee mostly gets an opportunity to do work in a non-related topic, and therefore, gain valuable insights about other areas of work within the organisation. The biggest benefit for the organisation as well as the employee is the exposure to different workflows, and therefore, gain a more holistic understanding. This would also encourage more systems-driven approach to problem solving rather than evaluating business problems in silos. For the employee, it offers a complete understanding of the organisation and also the opportunity to explore opportunities for improvement.
Assuming that some of the approaches mentioned above are well established within the organisation, the process of internal mobility is likely to work efficiently in most cases. However, even after role rotations are applied judiciously with sufficient foresight and planning, the success of the mobility is also intrinsically associated to another crucial element of organisational culture an anchor / buddy in the new role. This means that once an employee takes up a new assignment, a holding environment, in the form of a buddy (who is another colleague with proven expertise in the role) needs to ensure that there is ongoing support offered to the employee as and when the person has queries or is unable to navigate the process / environment. It is important to differentiate between a holding environment and an escape route, and the new role holder should be suitably conscious of the same. Another angle to consider is the application of a new person’s perspective to look at the existing system/process and explore opportunities for improvement, thereby creating a sense of satisfaction as well as learning for the individual. The eventual goal of such an approach in talent management is to create a win-win proposition for both the employee as well as the organisation.
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