Up the career ladder . Mixed media
ATD Blog

Leverage Leadership Coaching to Drive Talent Mobility

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

It’s not news to say that the pandemic forced unexpected changes upon all aspects of our lives, especially the workforce. According to a study done by Josh Bersin, 40 percent of US workers either changed jobs, managers, or roles in 2020.

Today, though, employers are experiencing a new threat: the Great Resignation. A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 40 percent of US workers are looking for a new job or plan to do so soon. A PwC survey put that number at 65 percent, twice the rate seen in 2019. The SHRM survey also found that 49 percent of US executives said that during the past six months, the turnover rate in their respective organizations was higher or much higher than usual.

The Great Resignation has highlighted the need to implement retention strategies within organizations and support employee development. Talent mobility—the migration of in-house talent into positions where they can be most effective—is a valuable tactic that can be used to keep employees motivated and engaged and retain that talent in house. In addition, offering resources like leadership coaching can aid transitions and provide support in the development of new skills.

The Need for Talent Mobility

There are various reasons why employees are leaving their jobs, but one reason workers often cite is the lack of internal career mobility. A study by Lighthouse Research & Advisory found that two-thirds of workers who have left their jobs said it was because of a lack of growth opportunities, but 90 percent said they would have stayed if those opportunities were offered. To create those internal opportunities and increase employee engagement and retention, agile organizations are shifting gears and focusing on developing robust talent mobility programs.

Talent mobility was defined as moving in-house employees through various roles and functions to allow them to acquire new skills and hone existing ones. Today, though, talent mobility has become more than that, with agile organizations viewing talent mobility to identify, develop, and quickly deploy talent to meet business needs.


A Shift in Thinking

Prepandemic, talent mobility was seen as a perk offered to high-potential employees. Employers would move these employees through various roles and functions to learn new skills and prepare them for upward mobility in the organization. In other words, traditional talent mobility prepared high-potential employees to climb the corporate ladder. However, at present, agile organizations view talent mobility less like a ladder and more like a lattice, where in-house talent at all levels—not just high potentials—can move up, down, or sideways.

Organizations are beginning to move away from traditional career paths, competency frameworks, and succession plans because they are often too slow to respond to rapidly changing business needs. Roles and business demands are changing too quickly, and skills are becoming obsolete faster than ever. These more traditional approaches to career development simply can’t keep up with the pace.


Benefits of Talent Mobility

Organizations with robust talent mobility programs experience higher retention, lower turnover, and lower hiring costs, among other benefits. Moving talent within an organization also speeds leadership development at all levels. Great leaders know the business well and possess knowledge and experience beyond their functional areas, so moving these leaders throughout the organization, whether it is vertically or laterally, speeds up the learning curve and develops dynamic leaders with a broader understanding of their organization as a whole.

How Leadership Coaching Can Support

Leadership coaching is the key to unlocking talent mobility. Leadership coaching helps prepare leaders before they transition into a new role so they can better anticipate the challenges they will face, either in a new functional role, a managerial role, or both. Leadership coaching also provides valuable support for employees after they transition into new roles, helping them adjust and adapt to their new role and responsibilities.

Career transitions fail for many reasons, often with significant consequences for the individual and the organization. Coaching helps ensure successful transitions, creating a foundation for effective talent mobility. The latest whitepaper from Sounding Board, Unlocking Talent Mobility With Leadership Coaching, explores why talent mobility is critical for organizational success, the organizational benefits, and how leadership coaching can support it. To read the whitepaper, download it here.

About the Author

Kip Kelly has over 25 years of marketing and communications experience, with a strong focus on talent management, executive education, professional coaching, and leadership development. Most recently, Kip managed marketing efforts at the NeuroLeadership Institute (NLI) where he led the ICF-certified Brain-Based Coach Training program, supporting professional coaches globally. He has designed and delivered leadership development programs for Duke Corporate Education and UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, consistently ranked among the top business schools in the world for executive education. His expertise in diversity, inclusion, and the use of data and analytics in learning and development has earned him a reputation as an industry leader, having published over 60 research studies and white papers, as featured in Chief Learning Officer Magazine, TD Magazine, Training Industry, HR Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Financial Times, and a host of other leading publications.

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