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Transforming organizational culture for a brighter future

Carina Cortez

Chief People Officer, Cornerstone

Managers — here’s a familiar situation: a superstar performer on your team is eager to take on new projects and explore aspects of the business on a new team. Seeing their enthusiasm for growth is fantastic, but it can lead to them expressing interest in switching teams or roles. Of course, we want to see our team members flourish, but at the same time, we're concerned about the potential impact of losing these valuable contributors from our team. I'm here to tell you not to dwell on this dilemma too much — because the data and wisdom suggest it's not in your team's or the organization's best interest.

If you genuinely care about your talent, sometimes you've got to let them spread their wings and fly.

A top priority for HR professionals and managers is fully supporting employee development. So, when a new internal opportunity comes their way, we should greet it enthusiastically rather than with apprehension. However, sometimes, our concern about the potential consequences for our teams can overshadow our excitement. We might not realize that this concern can hinder our employees' career progression or cause them to leave our organization to pursue their interests. This phenomenon, often called "talent hoarding," is a real issue in modern management.

So, what happens when we succumb to talent hoarding, and how does it affect our organizations and people? To gain insights, Cornerstone and the experts at Lighthouse Research Advisory decided to dive into this topic. Let's explore it from two angles: talent mobility and organizational culture.

Why talent mobility is a win-win

Our research revealed a startling statistic: nearly 70% of respondents felt that their managers wouldn't support their transition to a different role within the company. Consequently, they planned to leave their jobs within the next six months. This data left me with a few burning questions. What's happening within these organizations that makes employees feel unsupported in their growth? Why are we insistent on holding our people back rather than driving them forward?

The 2023 Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum sheds some light here. It found that 60% of surveyed companies struggled to bridge local skill gaps, and 53% cited difficulty attracting talent as their primary business transformation barriers. Could these issues be directly tied to poor internal mobility practices?

One of the most effective ways organizations can fill skill gaps and become high-performing is by nurturing internal talent mobility. Employees transitioning to new roles acquire new skills and contribute to a dynamic workforce that understands the high-performing company culture. These new skills are invaluable in an era of technological disruption and innovation. And employees also want to remain employable in the long run, so it's a win-win situation.

The study also uncovered that high-performing companies with solid revenue, employee retention and engagement metrics have more leaders and managers supporting employee growth. This revelation suggests that organizations can achieve positive results by prioritizing and promoting employee development.

Challenges in overcoming talent hoarding

As part of this research, we encountered an all too common scenario from a large healthcare organization. Employees were using creative tactics to bypass a company policy that required manager approval before seeking other jobs within the health system. Were employees resorting to these tactics because their managers were denying their requests to switch roles or because they were too afraid to ask in the first place? This story illustrates how deeply ingrained talent hoarding can be across industries, often to the point where we don't even realize it's woven into the organizational fabric.

But it's not just specific policies that contribute to talent hoarding. There are other cultural dynamics at play as well. Managers often refrain from promoting mobility because they fear losing productivity during the transition. So, organizations must be willing to reduce non-essential workloads during these periods.

Too often, companies look externally for talent without considering their internal talent pool. Rethinking recruitment to focus on internal talent can significantly reduce hiring time and alleviate team strain.

Navigating the path forward

So, what can we learn from all this? How can managers and organizations prevent the adverse effects of talent hoarding?

There's no one-size-fits-all solution, but our research suggests that investing in technology that enables employees to explore internal career opportunities is a step in the right direction. When employees have visibility into these opportunities, their perception of mobility support and retention improves. Data shows that employees with access to self-service technology for career mobility exploration are 50% less likely to plan to quit their jobs.

The truth is your employees will seek out new opportunities. Would you rather them potentially go to a competing organization or move internally through tools, policies, and practices that foster loyalty and longevity?

A culture that promotes internal mobility, has supportive managers and establishes tools and practices for employees to explore internal opportunities all contribute to employee growth and organizational performance. As a manager, you'll benefit from retaining top talent, increased team engagement and access to your employees' existing knowledge and skills. Remember, what's best for your employees often turns out to be what's best for you as the manager and the organization. Let's shift to talent promoting rather than talent hoarding.

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Als Manager:in kennen Sie diese Situation: Ein Superstar in Ihrem Team brennt geradezu auf neue Projekte und möchte alles und das bitte sofort-spannende neue Aufgaben in einem neuen Team. Das ist ja erst einmal großartig – Glückwunsch zu diesem Mitarbeitenden! Aber: Wie begeistert sind Sie wirklich, wenn Sie von diesem Interesse an einem Rollen- oder sogar Teamwechsel hören? Natürlich wollen Sie nur das Allerbeste für Ihr Team. Und doch macht es Ihnen vielleicht auch ein wenig Sorgen: Was wären die Auswirkungen, wenn Sie wichtige Fachkräfte aus Ihrem Team verlieren? Atmen Sie auf, alles wird gut. Vergessen Sie dieses scheinbare Dilemma. Denn Daten und Erfahrungswerte zeigen, dass es weder im Interesse Ihres Teams noch Ihres Unternehmens wäre, so zu denken.

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