“Intraplacement”: Reduce Retention Problems By Increasing The Internal Movement Of Your Employees

Intraplacement is a dynamic process that uses the tools and strategies of external search and applies them to internal candidates. Internal candidates are superior to external candidates because they usually have a much higher success rate in their new jobs than external candidates. This is because they already know “our” culture and they have already performed well in it. But they might also be “passive job seekers” with poor job search skills. If you don’t act to keep their career moving they could easily become your next retention problem. The goals and objectives of Intraplacement: The basic goal of Intraplacement is to increase the number and quality of growth opportunities available to current employees. Intraplacement works because there are many employees (and particularly technical staff) that have low job search initiative and weak interviewing or job search skills. Internal systems can also be so confusing or frustrating that employees often postpone any internal search. Sometimes they will only act when they get direct help from another source and unfortunately, that is often the executive search professional that calls them with a new external job opportunity with another firm! The second goal of Intraplacement is to improve the retention of key people, because “if we don’t place them (internally)… an outside firm will.” Intraplacement is a prevention strategy that “pushes” or guides key employees into new opportunities rather than waiting for them to “jump” on their own. Intraplacement also offers a variety of challenges in addition to the traditional promotion opportunities. A strategic goal of Intraplacement is to help redeploy a firms “Human Assets” to areas of business need (and opportunity). Intraplacement facilitates the movement and helps direct it from areas of low return to those of higher return. (Yes, this means moving people when the corporation needs it as well as just when the employee wants to go!) Another goal of Intraplacement programs is to motivate and excite the workers. Continually challenging workers through internal placement will increase employee motivation and growth. An added side benefit will be that you will enhance your firm’s image, so it will be easier to attract new workers. A final goal of Intraplacement is to get managers more involved in the development of their employees. Currently it is solely the employee’s responsibility to grow his or her own career. Rather than being advocates of movement and growth, some managers actually “hold back” their best employees in order to protect their own self-interest. By including metrics and individual rewards for managers that attract, develop, and grow employees (theirs and ones from other departments) more learning, movement and growth will occur. With Intraplacement, managers can become more of an equal partner in the growth and movement of employees. Companies like Intel, Sun Micro, HP, Pacific Gas and Electric, and Silicon Graphics are famous for the internal movement and the development of their people. They have all advanced beyond relying on “paper” postings and have added mechanisms to increase the movement of their employees. Steps in Intraplacement: Intraplacement programs must be customized to the culture of the company. However there are some common steps almost all firms go through in implementing an Intraplacement program. They include:

  1. Start with tracking the movement (or lack of) for all key employees and identify those that are “stagnant” (haven’t moved in __ years). Be sure to monitor for diversity and any possible adverse impact.
  2. Train, Assess and Reward managers for developing, monitoring and “pushing” their best “up and around” in the organization.
  3. Plot your key employees “history” of job jumping/movement to see if there is a predictable pattern and proactively try to Intraplace them months before they get frustrated and start returning executive search consultant calls.
  4. Plot what “phase” key employees are at in their career/ lifecycle. Often you can identify points in an employee’s career where the need for job growth/movement is a driving issue.
  5. Develop a system for continuously identifying growth and learning opportunities. Build rapport with managers and counsel them on how they can help develop and grow their employees. Identify areas of corporate “fat” and future corporate “needs.”
  6. Don’t just focus on “whole” jobs. Work with managers to identify growth opportunities including temporary assignments, transfers and “projects.” These can have the same stimulating impact on retention and motivation as a promotion.
  7. Assign “Intra-recruiters” who’s job is to act like internal executive recruiters to speed the movement of key competencies and employees to areas of high corporate need. Have external recruiters coordinate their work with Intra-recruiters to ensure that we get the highest quality hires.
  8. Don’t fall into the trap of treating all employees/positions equally. Identify superstar performers, hard-to-hire jobs and key competencies. Develop a priority of service list that identifies who should get priority.
  9. Get managers and employees involved. Get them to help you identify who is ready to move through forced ranking or 360 degree feedback mechanisms.
  10. Consider “pre-qualifying” candidates before openings/ opportunities occur. This can help retain employees because they know in advance they are qualified and it tells less qualified ones what they need to do to move.
  11. Do a periodic skills and “interest” inventory of all key employees. Find out where “they” want to go and get their managers (and the training dept.) to help to get them qualified.
  12. Use technology to help you do more. Provide resume writer/helper programs on your Intranet to help candidates who are resume- or interview-rusty.
  13. Post jobs, job descriptions and interview tips on your Intranet
  14. Have a searchable database for managers to use to “find” internal candidates by interest, competencies, performance level, and position.
  15. Have a quarterly “Human Asset” review among senior managers to make sure that we have retained, grown, and moved all employees that were targeted. Have HR do a regular report on Intraplacement successes and failures.

DO’S AND DON’TS OF INTRAPLACEMENT: There are several suggested things to do (and to avoid) if you are going to have a successful program. Some suggested Do’s and Don’ts include:

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  • Don’t require a waiting period before external posting. Make it a simultaneous process.
  • Don’t post jobs only in public places. Having public posting can discourage employees from looking at job openings.
  • Don’t penalize employees who move frequently or place minimum waiting periods before their next transfer. Learning speeds and boredom levels vary between employees.
  • Don’t allow an individual manager to deny an employee permission to move. Reward managers that push the best on to areas of greater growth/need.
  • Try to eliminate “Wired” jobs that already have a pre-selected candidate in order to avoid frustrating employees.
  • Do identify and counsel managers that keep/horde talent.
  • Don’t penalize fast learners by classifying them as “job jumpers.” Top performers must move more often than average workers.
  • Do eliminate fixed rules that treat all jobs and employees as equal. Some employees can move faster than “the rules” allow. They will get frustrated if, for example, they make a bad choice in a placement and then they must stick with it for __ years.

If you are feeling “bold” why not start today. Begin by assigning an intra-recruiter and identifying those who are most in need of a “push.” When you begin increasing the speed of growth and movement within your organization you will be gaining a competitive advantage over your competitors. Start moving and “growing” your employees now… before a competitor does it for you!

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on staging.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.



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