Considering today’s labor shortage and the fact that it can take up to two months or longer to fill a job vacancy, it makes sense to promote from within. But even if employees are excellent in their current positions—always crushing goals and exceeding expectations—that doesn’t mean they’re ready to step into a more senior role. Transitioning from being a team member’s friend to being their manager is tough. So is switching from having only individual responsibilities to delegating work to others. Being promoted is exciting, but it also means bearing lots of new weight. The good news is that by integrating some best practices into your organization, preparing employees for their next role—and identifying when they are ready to take that next step—are entirely possible.
9 ways to make internal mobility part of your employee development program
In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 63% of workers said they had recently left a job because they couldn’t advance in their careers. The same survey found that 77% of employees felt that developing within their current company was solely up to them. Not only do employees need to know that opportunities exist where they are; they need to have the right support structure to help them step into those roles. Here’s how you can help.
- Make it known that you promote from within
If staff members don't know there’s room to advance, they’ll look elsewhere. Make sure managers ask about employees’ career goals during monthly reviews or in daily conversations to show them their future is on the company’s radar. It’s also wise to announce internal promotions in the company newsletter so employees can see it’s possible to move forward. Before posting job openings externally, share new opportunities internally. Even if the specific position doesn’t interest someone now, it will spark them to envision their next step.
- Help them step onto the ladder
It’s hard to gauge leadership skills without seeing them in action, but even the smallest demonstration can reveal potential. Encourage employees to take turns leading meetings. Ask one or two staff members to organize the next teambuilding event or holiday party. Have the current manager work from home sometimes and delegate an onsite employee to be the go-to for office issues that day. Employees can build confidence and receive important feedback about their leadership capabilities by getting a glimpse of what leading is like.
- Amp up soft skills training
Soft skills like empathy, problem-solving, and time management are crucial for employee development—particularly when preparing to climb the ladder. Along with providing lessons to improve soft skills, allow employees to experience chances to put them into action.
Have team members pair up on projects, where they must put their heads together to set goals. Schedule Zoom meetings so remote workers can listen to what others are saying. Plan departmental discussions where everyone shares their thoughts on current policies. Every time they’re able to build on their emotional intelligence, employees take one step closer to leadership.
- Push them to find solutions
Preparing employees for their next role means empowering them to make decisions. If they come to management every time they have a problem, they’ll never learn how to find the answers on their own.
When coworkers argue over who didn’t pull their weight on a project, tell them to take the discussion behind closed doors and work it out. If an employee tells you the numbers in a spreadsheet aren’t adding up, introduce them to the finance manager. Problem-solving instills confidence and lets employees know they are capable of more responsibility.
- Create networking opportunities
Let’s face it: Climbing the corporate ladder is often about who you know. However, it doesn’t have to be a hiring manager or even someone in the same department who can help in preparing employees for their next role.
Networking with others in similar positions, in other departments, and even in different companies can strengthen interpersonal skills and allow employees to confidently start conversations—both of which are extremely useful in employee development and eventually in leadership. And research shows that up to 80% of jobs are filled through personal and professional connections.
To help employees network, invite multiple departments to after-work events. Encourage employees to join a trade association so they can get to know others in their field. Send one representative from every department to industry-wide conferences. Every chance to build relationships with fellow professionals is a step in the right direction.
- Let them explore other areas
If you’ve ever asked a high school student what they want to do for the rest of their life, you often seen worry in their eyes. Uncertainty is scary when planning for the future. While people in the workforce are a little more sure of their interests, they’re not always set on where they want to end up.
Organizations that value talent should be willing to help good employees explore lateral movements. Accountants can develop into excellent treasury managers. Treasury managers can be financial advisors. A technical writer might see herself in a marketing position. By allowing employees to explore and even apply for jobs in other areas, HR departments can prevent talented individuals from becoming unsatisfied and leaving.
- Allow them to strike a balance
When employees are too focused on climbing the ladder, they can begin to neglect what they do best—which is essentially their time to shine. Make sure they have room to train for the future as well as continue to do their job. This will allow them to stay satisfied with the company and confident in their abilities to grow.
Microlearning is delivered in customized short sessions that employees can fit into their workday. By giving them convenient opportunities to gain leadership skills, employees will see that you value their talent and care about their future.
- Recognize when they succeed
Compliments foster confidence. When an employee does something noteworthy, let them know their work is appreciated. Whether it’s a standing ovation at the next departmental meeting, a company-wide email, or tickets to a sporting event they enjoy, showing recognition will keep them hungry for future accolades.
- Show them what excellent leading looks like
Are your current leaders honest, fair, and empathetic? Do they inspire team members to come to the table with new ideas? Do they make their employees want to grow into bigger roles within your organization? If not, it may be time to strengthen your leadership development program.
Even after managers go through training, they should be paired with a leadership coach who will continue to help strengthen their ability to upskill teams. They should also receive continuous education on inclusion, diversity, and soft skills. When workers have role models who make them feel like an integral part of the team—and see that companies are committed to employee development—they will naturally rise to the occasion and emerge as leaders.
Our award-winning microlearning solution can help unleash your employees’ leadership potential. To begin moving your organization forward, schedule a consultation with Blue Ocean Brain today.