The internal mobility challenge – Magic bullet or gun to the head?

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The war for talent is raging, and as we begin to quantify the full impact of the skills shortages facing many industries today, organisations are placing increasing amounts of importance on optimising their workforce. Two main avenues which have proven to be fruitful: internal mobility and – my previous post – growing your own talent.

I would be willing to wager serious funds that every experienced talent acquisition and management professional is glad that the era of an empty desk usually meant an immediate mandate to hire externally is coming to an end. Finally, in organisations of all shapes and sizes the message is being ardently communicated that the effective development and deployment of the existing workforce should always be a priority before anyone starts to consider an external hire. Why? Because it saves time, effort and money, because it focuses on those already integrated into the corporate culture and because, by highlighting the emphasis in career development , it is a great retention tool.  Of course, this approach does need to be both flexible and sensible. Sometimes organisations are faced with the need for skills, which simply do not already exist under the present corporate umbrella and sometimes they simply need ‘new blood’ to inject fresh thinking, fresh ways of dealing with both challenges and opportunities. But still, it is now generally accepted that the internal talent pool should be the default starting point rather than a subsequent consideration.

Many of the tools we need to effect this are already at our disposal. Technology, such as that we are already deploying to pinpoint contiguous skills which will allow an individual to be relatively quickly cross-trained. Top performer programmes that can create a cadre of ‘fast-track’ professionals, who are both keen on and capable of global mobility. Sophisticated alumni programmes that extend the boundaries of a conventional internal talent pool and create an open-door facility for the brightest and best.

However, life is never as simple as we might like it to be. Consequently even the most transparent and elegant solutions sometimes have traps and pitfalls built into them. And the internal talent pool solution is unfortunately no exception.

Whether we like it or not, the hard fact of any life in any enterprise beyond the very smallest is that not all line managers tell the truth about the people in their teams. Whatever we would like to happen, in the big, bad, real world, managers strive hard to hang onto their best talent – perhaps even by downplaying their capabilities and achievements – while at the same time they may be all too eager to pass on the average, the mediocre, the downright bad. And if HR does not embrace this harsh reality, instead of making the corporate body ever stronger, redeployment and internal mobility can slowly poison it.

So, to make redeployment of talent work properly within any organisation, HR needs to look below the surface, to cut through any politicking and false messaging and find out what is really going on within the organisation. Time to stop being an optimist and start being a cynic?

We can get this right. And we have to. Because it simply is the best use of the immensely valuable human resources we have responsibility for. But to succeed we must be totally realistic and approach the challenge with our eyes and ears very wide open indeed.

About Nick Greenston

Nick Greenston

Nick has been integral to building Alexander Mann Solutions over the past 18 years. He has worked with and managed a number of our largest clients especially within the Investment Banking sector, most notably Credit Suisse and Citi. Nick created, implemented, and currently manages some of our trend-setting service offerings (SourceCloud, Resourcing Augmentation, and RPO Accelerate), where Alexander Mann Solutions is able to support organisations by deploying the right individuals or teams into their clients own resourcing functions. Today there are over 60 organisations (and rising!) who are benefiting from these solutions globally.

Nick holds a 2nd Class BA (hons) degree from Leeds, and has worked in the recruitment industry for 20 years.

Prior to joining Alexander Mann Solutions, Nick gained his recruitment experience from a small boutique IT recruitment firm, where he specialised in recruiting IT staff into the Investment Banking sector.


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