Don’t Skip Steps but Skip Along

Organizational leadership Respect Transformation


Key Point: At the Achiever’s Aspire conference in San Francisco last week, various leaders talked about the rapid and turbulent movement of talent in the Bay Area. With all these great companies like Salesforce, LinkedIn, Google, etc. and start ups like Lyft, Achievers, and so on, there is so much competition. The average tenure of people in one job is 2.7 years… And of course, not always at one company. Why the movement? What do people want?

Josh Bersin is a highly respected industry analyst and researcher focused on corporate talent, learning, HR, leadership, HR technology, etc. A recent Forbes article noted the following on this very topic:

“Among the many reasons people leave companies, one of the biggest is for lack of opportunity. Our research clearly shows that organizations which invest more heavily in training, career development, and mobility outperform their peers in almost every industry.

But it has to go further. Not everyone will move into management or get promoted – Irresistible organizations enable facilitated talent mobility. People can move from job to job without fear of failure – supported by leadership as well as HR. Today only three percent of the companies we survey deliver strong mobility programs at all levels, yet this is one of the strongest drivers of engagement and continuous learning.

What happens when you give people the opportunity to grow? People stay excited, the business becomes more agile and innovative, and high performers want to stay.”

It is important that regardless of where we are in our career, we are adding to our experience portfolio. This doesn’t mean it is always a vertical promotion but we want as many experiences as possible to enrich our personal equity. In fact, “unnatural” vertical promotions could ultimately be a disadvantage. I have seen too many young, inexperienced leaders get an MBA, look all “shiny,” skip two or three levels, only to fail later in their careers because they didn’t scrape their knees enough along the way.

Character Moves:

  1. Develop a “value build list.” Determine the next three to five technical competencies you want to build regarding the business/profession you’re in. Identify the next three to five areas of experience you want to develop regarding work experiences (e.g. taking on a gnarly project, fixing something, creating something, etc). Outline next three to five personal or people skills you want to develop (e.g leading a team, being able to performance coach, teach others, lead change, etc).
  2. Have a game plan to get these experiences even, and be prepared to leave the organization you’re working in if they can’t work with you on this. Ideally you work somewhere where there is a meaningful mobility system, and leaders consciously help you continuously learn and talk to you about this. (Note: The company I’m with is going to get better at this)!!!
  3. If you’re a leader who has influence on this, do something to promote a proactive mobility system (unless you want to spend more resources doing reactive recruiting).

Mobility in the Triangle,