4 common internal mobility mistakes to avoid in 2022

What leaders get wrong about career moves, and what to do instead

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By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Future of Work Specialist @ Gloat

January 31, 2022

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Visionary leaders are prioritizing internal mobility to put a stop to the Great Resignation, and with good reason. Our research reveals that nearly two-thirds of employees want to pursue new opportunities with their current employer. In fact, workers cite a lack of growth potential as one of the top factors that motivate them to look for a new job in the first place.

However, when it comes to promoting internal mobility, not all strategies are created equal. Since external recruitment has traditionally been the dominant method for filling vacancies, focusing on internal mobility can be a major shift. And like most transitions, it comes with a trial-and-error approach that creates a sharp learning curve in the very beginning.

The good news is that you can sidestep these initial pitfalls from the start and maximize your strategy’s success; you just need to know what to watch out for. So what are the internal mobility mistakes that you can’t afford to make? And what should you be doing instead?

The four most common internal mobility mistakes

Just deciding to prioritize internal mobility is a major step in the right direction. Yet, if you want to achieve superior results, you’ve got to avoid the following pitfalls:

#1. Not putting employees in the driver’s seat

Internal mobility is all about empowering people and showing them that their future with your organization is bright. It’s going to be pretty much impossible to accomplish that if your workforce feels like they’re being forced in one direction, or are just waiting on their managers to tell them what their next step should be.

Instead, every employee needs to be put at the helm of their professional progression. They should be the ones who decide whether they’re interested in channeling their expertise into a new domain or if they’d rather focus on acquiring the skills they’ll need for a promotion within their current department.

To get your employees to sit in the driver’s seat of their careers, you need to create the kind of transparency that allows them to see the growth opportunities your organization has to offer. Take advantage of career pathing to present your people with all the possible directions that their careers can take. Ideally, these tools might help workers discover roles that they never knew existed within your company, giving them new reasons to stay.

#2. No skill-building support

Internal mobility and skill-building are like two sides of the same coin; you can’t have one without the other. The only way to empower employees to make lateral and vertical career moves is by providing them with ample training experiences, and these opportunities will in turn inspire them to keep expanding their skillsets.

Consequently, if you want to launch an impactful internal mobility strategy, you’re going to need to make sure that you’re getting skill-building right. That means giving employees access to experiential learning opportunities like projects, gigs, and shadowing so they have the chance to put what they’re learning into practice. Without hands-on experience, your people may never develop the competencies they’ll need to move into different roles and execute new tasks with confidence.

#3. Hindering talent-sharing

Internal mobility is about more than just redeploying talent; there’s a strong culture component that can make or break your strategy’s success. One of the biggest roadblocks that hinder your people from taking their careers in new directions is talent hoarding; a false sense of ownership of the skilled workers within one’s team or department.

At first, some managers might feel a little possessive of their high performers. However, they will quickly realize that internal mobility broadens the talent pools they can tap into. To prevent talent hoarding from sabotaging internal mobility, leaders need to create a culture memo that demonstrates why sharing skills is in everyone’s best interest, especially managers.

#4. Valuing stability over flexibility

For decades, the way we work has been centered around stability. Employees were expected to climb linear career ladders, taking one predictable step after another. These strictly vertical paths didn’t leave much room for internal mobility and employees typically didn’t have a lot of visibility into roles and opportunities within other parts of their organization.

In contrast, careers in the new world of work need to put flexibility above stability, especially as the war for talent intensifies. Yesterdays’s linear career ladders are being replaced by webs of vertical and horizontal opportunities that employees weave based on skills, interests, and ambitions.

The shift to flexible, fluid professional progression is a necessary evolution, particularly as life expectancies lengthen. As our VP of Insights and Impact Jeff Schwartz explains,

Careers are longer, so we need to think about what it means to create careers and strategies for people who are going to be working for 50 or 60 years. Many people who are going to be working through multiple moves within their careers—and hopefully, more of these moves will take place within rather than outside their organization

Jeff Schwartz, VP of Insights and Impact, Gloat

How to sidestep internal mobility pitfalls with a talent marketplace

Until a few years ago, it was almost impossible for businesses to launch an internal mobility strategy without making at least some of the mistakes outlined above. Even though employers wanted to empower their people to pursue new opportunities within their organization, continuously aligning employee ambitions to business priorities was incredibly challenging, especially at larger companies.

Fortunately, the rise of talent marketplaces has removed a lot of the friction that once weighed internal mobility down. The two-sided platforms harness the power of AI to match people to projects, gigs, and full-time roles that are relevant to their competencies and ambitions. Furthermore, the addition of new career pathing offerings takes internal mobility one step further by presenting employees with multiple possibilities for the direction their careers can take.

With the right approach, internal mobility can become your business’s secret weapon for improving retention and empowering employees to reach their full potential with your organization. If you want to learn how pioneering organizations are leveraging talent marketplaces to reimagine professional development, download our guide about Unlocking Career Agility. It’s worth the read!

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