Talent Mobility: What it is and why organizations need it

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  • In our conversations with organizations about workforce planning, the issue of talent mobility comes up with increasing frequency. It is clear that executives are paying much more attention to this critical issue and are asking hard questions of their management and their HR teams:
    What are the most critical roles within the organization?
    What positions are most effective at developing talent?
    Which of our internal and external talent sources are most effective at delivering high performers?
    Which managers in the organization are the best developers of talent? Which are the worst?

    The HR team must have the data, framework, and reporting and analytic capabilities to answer these questions. Traditional succession management practices (and traditional workforce planning tools) are often inadequate to the task.
    Infohrm has recently brought to market its TalentFlow Analytics module, which draws on data from organizations’ HRIS and other ERP systems to provide data-driven answers to these questions in a highly visible, intuitive graphical interface. These Markov-style “transition diagrams” help managers and executives immediately see how talent moves through the organization – and which sources, flows, positions, and managers most enhance (or detract from) that process.

  • Mobile Amoeba

    This is a very intriguing concept. However, I have a perspective that perhaps you could address. I work for a small business. The position I was hired to fill has changed two times. The original position was very attractive to me, and although the pay was low, I took it because it meant doing what I loved to do. Within a few months, an emphasis was placed on another role (marketing), which I embraced although did not feel it was my strongest skill set. I’ve been adapting and learning more about this area, but admit it is not a “passion.” I have been working on creative solutions though, with the focus on helping my employer grow his business.

    Then last year, my role changed again. This time, I saw my cycles being switched from doing the work I loved to work that quite frankly, bores me. I don’t feel as though my situation is much different from other employees who must be adaptable in this volatile economy. However, I can say this “talent mobility” could have the potential to drive skilled employees out of the workplace and into developing their own businesses.

    Where do you draw the line between being “mobile” vs. retaining positions for individuals for which they truly excel? Not everyone can do everyone’s jobs. I’m not an engineer nor an accountant. I liked your research findings, but I suspect more companies will skip the processes and talent segmentation and simply say to the employee, “Do you want to keep working here? If so, you need to do this.”

    In which case, we can all just quit and start our own research and advisory firm. 😉

    • joshbersin

      This is a pretty common problem, unfortunately. It says something about your organization’s maturity in “talent mobility” – the whole idea here is to give employees a set of options that enable the employee to satisfy their own career goals, matched into the organization’s needs. The right idea is for people to go into a role that is both good for THEM as well as the organization. Any manager who pushes you otherwise is probably an immature manager or needs some training. The other thing to remember is that everyone has periods of time in their career when they tend to have “boring” or “flat lined” jobs – it’s part of building a career – and when you find that your employer gives you a lot of these jobs, its time to create your own “personal career mobility.” 🙂