Talent Mobility: What Does Success Look Like?

Guest Contributorby Claude Werder | Posted | Career Management

Talent Mobility: What Does Success Look Like?

This is the fourth and final installment of a talent mobility series by Claude Werder from Brandon Hall Group. Claude is the Senior Vice President and Principal HCM Analyst at BHG and leads the talent management research and advisory practice.

If you missed the first three articles in this series, you can read them here:

How Employers Should View Talent Mobility Success

"What would make your talent mobility program successful?"

I recently asked that question to a talent management leader I interviewed. She responded immediately and with confidence: "Expand my internal talent pipeline and have more ready leaders."

That's the ultimate goal, yes. But talent mobility, as we discussed in previous blogs, is a complex, dynamic process. Brandon Hall Group's research shows it should be built step-by-step through a series of interconnected and interdependent processes involving an array of stakeholders.


Source: 2020 Brandon Hall Group Career Development Study

Therefore, success must be viewed through a multidimensional lens focused on progression. A bigger pipeline and an increase in ready leaders will happen over time as organizations establish a foundation and reach new milestones. Looking at success in this way makes the complex evolution of the workforce more reachable and sustainable.

So, what exactly do organizations need to know to be successful in talent mobility? Based on BHG survey research and interviews with organizations that reached internal mobility success, here are five critical questions to consider:

1. What are the most critical job roles now and in the future?

Since it's nearly impossible to address talent development for all roles at once, start with the most critical. If you are focused on all jobs/roles now, consider scaling back.

Case in point: An iconic Fortune 100 manufacturing company reduced its succession-planning process to the 15 percent of roles considered most critical to the business over the next five years. This triggered a significant improvement in the number of ready leaders over just a two-year period.

The problem is that fewer than 40 percent of organizations say they have consensus on critical roles. The key to gaining consensus is establishing criteria and metrics. Ask yourself, should critical roles be based on:

  • Revenue generation?
  • Scarcity of ready-and-willing talent?
  • Market competition?

Which metrics should be given more weight? Once those decisions are made, it's easier to reach consensus. Another key to success is focusing on future needs - short-term and long-term - rather than just current needs.

Since gaining consensus on critical roles is elusive for most employers, reaching that milestone represents significant success and establishes a foundation for your internal talent mobility evolution.

2. What are the critical skills and competencies needed for future success?

Once you narrow your focus, the next step is identifying the most important skills and competencies needed for the critical roles. To do this, your stakeholder group must:

  • Determine the business objectives and challenges for each role.
  • Collect data/information needed to analyze the skills and competencies to reach those objectives.

These decisions should be based on skills and competencies that will differentiate your talent and your company from competitors. In other words, what are the customer experiences that produce a competitive advantage and which skills and competencies must your talent demonstrate to realize that competitive advantage?

3. Who do we target for development?

The reflexive response to this question is high-potential talent. But as we examined in a previous blog on creating internal talent pools, organizations struggle to identify high-potential talent. The people you should target must demonstrate the abilities, aspirations, engagement and learning agility to acquire the differentiating skills and competencies and can apply them to the organization's most critical needs.

4. How do we develop our candidates?

Here, organizations need to consider the learning strategies best suited to develop high-potential talent for the targeted roles. Research shows that the best results come from a rich blend of learning, including in-person, eLearning and microlearning. Also critical is continuous experiential learning, such as job rotations and team projects, in which candidates can apply learned behaviors and make contributions to the business in the process.

5. How do we know our talent is ready?

Based on your selection of critical roles, skills, competencies and learning strategies, organizations need to build career paths, both vertical and lateral. This enables employees to see the proficiency levels they should reach and the steps needed to get there. Depending on the role, milestones could include:

  • Courses
  • Experiences
  • Certifications
  • Advanced degrees

The key is for the succession candidates to know their path and for the employer to know when they may be ready for the next role.

A major failing for most organizations is the talent-review process, which is usually done sporadically by different people and based largely on performance evaluations rather than an ongoing review of experiences and results from a diverse group of leaders. Address this by adding an overhaul of your talent-review process to your to-do list.

Building Talent Mobility Success

The goal of internal talent mobility is a deeper pipeline that produces more ready-and-willing leaders and key contributors. The journey from Point A to Point B is so complex that it is best done in stages through collaboration and innovation. The process in each organization is unique depending on the industry, the workforce, the culture and your starting point.

The key is to establish mobility targets, build a strategy, assess progress through pre-determined metrics and adjust as you go. As you build success, you can expand your mobility targets further across the enterprise.

More from Saba on Talent Mobility

If you enjoyed this talent mobility series and want to know more, check out some of these Saba-picked resources:

The Star You Seek May Already Be in Your Organization

Learn how to reach talent mobility success in 9 steps.


Download Now
Cover of the book
Cover of the book

The Star You Seek May Already Be in Your Organization

Learn how to reach talent mobility success in 9 steps.


Download Now


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