What Is Talent Mobility

In the business world, there are often buzz phrases that pop up as trends change and things evolve. Sometimes, those buzz phrases turn into meaningful terms that actually affect the ways in which companies operate. ‘Talent mobility’ is one of those phrases that started as something leaders touted when they were in meetings, but it’s quickly turned into an essential component of successful, thriving businesses.

So, what is talent mobility exactly? In short, it’s the process of identifying your employees’ skills and talents as they progress with your company so you can successfully move them from role to role. In other words, you’re trying to identify the right people with the right skills at the right time for the right positions. If you’re looking for a talent mobility definition, it’s important to understand that there are various forms of talent mobility that can fall under a wide umbrella. For instance, there are several types of internal mobility, including:

  • Vertical mobility, which is an upward movement between job levels
  • Horizontal mobility, which describes moving to different roles within the same job level

Additionally, if your company is large enough, you might consider global talent mobility. In this instance, you’re preparing your employees to be able to move seamlessly from one country to another successfully, both in their business and personal lives.


Talent Mobility Best Practices

As you assess internal mobility best practices, there are a few things to keep in mind. In order to have a scalable process, technology needs to be involved in your strategies. Without great tools, you won’t be able to set baselines or measure success based on benchmarks you’re achieving. Your internal mobility programs should encompass the following elements:

1. Buy-in from C-Suite Executives

Starting with the CEO and trickling downwards, your company’s leadership needs to have buy-in about the idea of internal mobility being necessary for positive, healthy growth within the company. As you assess how to improve internal mobility, you also sponsorship from your staff members, as it’s crucial that they understand the importance of talent mobility in their own individual career paths. Downstream, people should be celebrated for their milestones, internal moves, and achievements within the organization. The key for talent leaders is to secure this support at the top and let it naturally run down the chain of command in a fruitful way.

2. A Map of Current Employees’ Skills

A main barrier that comes with managing internal mobility is that many managers don’t have any idea of the skills or desires of their employees. Data on staff members is siloed into different systems, which are managed by different departments. This is why technology is important; a great middleware solution can map employees’ skills and keep track of their progress so recruiters within the organization can have access to the supply chain of talent that’s readily available at their fingertips.

3. A Unified Internal and External Talent Pipeline

Do you really need two different pipelines? So many companies work in both internal and external landscapes when it comes to recruiting and retaining talent. Why not unify those resources into a single place where you can help boost internal mobility? Yes, it does require a mindset shift, followed by an incentive shift, but the overarching strategy will pay fruits for your labor. A unified pipeline means all candidates are considered for all jobs, even if they’re currently employees of your firm.

4. Alleviation from Line Managers

In many companies’ setups, incentives aren’t aligned with behavior that supports internal mobility. After all, if a manager has a star employee, why would they ever want to give that person up when they don’t know what kind of employee will replace them? Plus, nobody wants to continually manage turnover. Too many failed internal mobility initiatives can leave line managers acting on the interest of the company at their own expense, or worse, not acting on anyone’s behalf but themselves.

One internal mobility benchmark should be to take the stress away from front-line managers by incorporating rotation programs and similar mechanisms that allow employees to be seen by many managers while simultaneously exploring their own talents, abilities, and interests.

5. Creation of Dedicated Internal Mobility Specialists

When it comes to talent mobility best practices, you need to have your ear to the ground all the time so you can retain top talent and usher them into leadership roles within your organization. When you set up a team of recruiters whose sole responsibility is to look only at internal talent when vacancies appear, they’ll be ready with recommendations of people who already know your culture, mission, and values. This is effectively performing headhunting roles within your own organization.

Talent Mobility Strategy

When it comes to talent mobility best practices, understanding the types of internal mobility will be an important step. There are generally two approaches to mobility: role-to-role mobility and project-based mobility.

Utilize Two Types of Talent Mobility

A strong internal mobility program should include both aspects of mobility. Role-to-role mobility allows employees to change their jobs within the organization, filling roles as needed. Project-based mobility supports employees working on different projects and not being stuck with a certain workflow or set team. Internal mobility best practices will stay focused on the people forming your teams and not overlook their personal feelings towards mobility.

Think Long-Term for Employee Growth

Upward mobility is another aspect that can complicate the role-to-role mobility to some degree. Employees should have clear paths forward to improve their skills and professional abilities, but their ability to move throughout the company shouldn’t be sacrificed. As employees expand their abilities and take on higher titles, they shouldn’t “graduate” from tasks where they are still needed. Managing this balance can be tricky.

Look for Redundancies and Unnecessary Overlap

Process mining can be a useful tool to really help optimize talent mobility. Process mining will look at what employees are doing and how workflows really move. Rather than assume the touchpoints and processes always make sense, process mining will look at all timestamps and movements to see if there are bottlenecks or snags that can be addressed to optimize the process. This can help pinpoint unnecessary mobility, where employees are moving to places they aren’t truly needed and wasting valuable time with extra touchpoints in the process.

Increase Project Communication

When employees are moving to different projects and roles, a solid project management software (PMs) should be leveraged to keep everyone on track. Increased clarity is needed to avoid miscommunications about assigned tasks. The PMs will track project timelines and employee mobility, which can show if you are hitting your

Set Internal Mobility Benchmarks

Define how internal mobility can help your company and create a list of goals. Make sure one internal mobility benchmark includes avoiding unnecessary movements. Not all movement is good movement.

Consider Team Morale

Part of a strong internal talent mobility strategy will include recommending cross-functional projects, rotations and secondments. It’s important to still maintain intrinsic values of completion and success, so talent movement may sometimes need to be reined in. If the mobility pace gets too fast, employees may start to feel as if they never get to see any significant project through to its end.

Talent Mobility Strategy

It’s important to incorporate a formal internal talent mobility strategy into your framework for success. Your talent mobility strategy should hinge around policies that allow employees to move roles, which is important in preventing managers from hoarding talent. Your internal mobility process should encompass a few key elements, including:

  • Cultivating both internal and external pipelines and unifying them into one, singular platform
  • Creating visible career paths and succession plans
  • Developing existing team members through learning and development programs
  • Encouraging and supporting cross-functional projects and rotations

As you create your internal mobility policy, you’ll want to devise a set of guidelines that govern how employees are expected to behave within your organization and what they can do to achieve positions that are more suitable for their unique skillsets. It’s important that you design a foundation upon which you can leverage employees’ competencies, experience, and skills in ways that make your organization better while simultaneously improving morale and retention rates within your organization.

Talent Mobility Framework

An internal mobility framework can support your overall success initiatives. A talent mobility framework should define the roles, skills, and competencies for employees and help create a clear picture of how workers can move throughout the company. Your talent mobility framework should include the following steps:

Stakeholder Involvement

Your stakeholders are both your C-suite executives and the employees you’re trying to groom into fitting positions. The idea of talent mobility needs to be adopted by both sets of people within your organization to see the most substantial benefits.

Clarity and Help with Your Management Team

In order for your strategies to be fruitful, your senior management needs to champion your talent mobility efforts. Employees will take their cues from upper management, which means it’s crucial to get buy-in from every level of the organization. Leaders need to advertise new opportunities internally before seeking external candidates. When recruiting for upper-level positions, managers should offer training to existing employees before hiring externally.

User-Friendly Platforms

Embrace all the things technology can bring to the table by implementing a user-friendly platform that facilitates talent mobility. A great platform will help you plan your moves accordingly, as you’ll already know your talents’ strengths and skills. With the appropriate platform, you can better manage your company’s talent pool, reach out to potential candidates, and keep tabs on people who have the right skills to do the jobs that need to be done.

Be sure to always recognize your team’s talents and reward their efforts when they go above and beyond. This is one of the simplest ways to build a company culture that people want to be associated with.


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