May 28, 2023

We have a visibility problem!

Poor visibility and poor connectivity is more prevalent within mid-to-large organizations than it needs to be.

In this brief article, we talk about why you need to worry about this, what practical steps you can take to improve the situation and how you can improve retention using a talent marketplace.

Communications, feedback, skills and your employees' aspirations are all inter-connected. However, these elements are managed in a disjointed manner in most organizations leading to poor visibility and connectivity internally. Hence, your employees don't see the big picture of their daily work, and can't be as effective as they can be. They also don't feel empowered to address their career aspirations and hence they are not as engaged as they can be.

You can improve your organizations' performance and engagement by having better visibility into and connectivity on the following:  

  1. Skills & capacity needs and availability- Let’s say you are a manager and your team has a few important and / or interesting initiatives to execute. Often, your team does not have the bandwidth or the skills to take these initiatives forward. However, there are other colleagues within your organization who may have the bandwidth and the skills available when you need them. What if you had access to an internal gig ecosystem that allowed you to easily reach out to all colleagues within your organization by creating visibility into your requirements for skills and capacity? And enable to connect with those who have the skills and bandwidth to help your team on a full time or part time basis?
  2. Opportunities to improve skills - Or perhaps you are an employee who is in Marketing or Project Management or any other function - you can always improve your skills to be more effective in your current role. While you can and likely do participate in classroom training, there is no substitute for learning by doing. There may be colleagues within your organization, not necessarily in the same function or geography, with the expertise to help you improve your skills. What if the organization fostered social learning leveraging a skills framework? You would get  visibility on all colleagues in your organization who are considered experts in a particular field, and could connect with them on available opportunities to collaborate with them using a few hours a week to learn by doing!
  3. Opportunities to experiment with new roles - Let’s say an employee is in Product Management and wants to try out roles in Business Development. Or is in Engineering and wants to explore Product Management. A typical roadblock to such career changes, especially as you get more experienced, is related to a couple of unknowns: they would not know whether they will enjoy this role and whether this is a role they can perform their best in. At the same time, the hiring manager would not know if the employee can translate their strengths from their current role. Here strong internal talent networks can help through their flexible career pathways and democratized access to mentoring. What if the employee had visibility into the skills needed for the new roles and could connect with short term & part-time engagements within your organization related to these particular skills. That way, by investing a few hours a week, the employee could test the new role to check their interest and ability. And build a track record related to this role through multiple short term assignments that any hiring manager could reference in future.

So, how good is visibility and connectivity in your organization? Let’s do a quick test. How many of the below questions would you answer positively to

  1. Do your people know how many skills they have improved or added in the last 6 months?
  2. Do your people know how colleagues other than their manager perceive their skills and contribution?
  3. Do your people know what opportunities there are across your organization to practically improve a particular skill?
  4. Do your people know what opportunities there are across your organization to help them explore alternate career paths?
  5. Do your people know if there are people across your organization with the skills and experience they are looking for to to test an idea or execute an initiative?

Perhaps you answered positively to just a few or even to none of the above. Creating the transparency on the above information often contributes to higher performance and greater employee engagement. So what can you do to create this clarity and help people within your organization achieve more? As a first step, you can start by improving your internal talent network by creating transparency in one or more of the following areas:

  • Aspirations - people's interests in roles they would like to explore, skills they would like to improve, locations they would like to work in or people they would like to work with
  • Opportunities - short term assignments or time bound initiatives that teams are interested to get support on
  • Feedback (anonymous or public) from colleagues on other colleagues in terms of their skill level or contribution to a particular initiative

You could do this by setting up a team of volunteers who can gather and keep this information up to date. You could start with one function as a pilot and then expand to others. The manager of the function needs to be on board. And the volunteers need to communicate regularly with updates and achievements to get more colleagues engaged and participating in the initiative. You don’t necessarily need a solution to get started. You can leverage a spreadsheet and the organization's intranet for a start.

Beyond the initial steps, you can consider rolling out a talent marketplace solution to scale these capabilities across your entire organization and helping your people to help themselves. This way you don't need people to orchestrate these processes centrally and you can rely on the talent marketplace to create increasing visibility and connectivity. Good talent marketplace solutions are built for employees to help themselves without manual orchestration. They also provide effective insights for senior management, people managers and HR to see how this effort is contributing to improved performance, engagement and retention.

Addressing the visibility and connectivity challenges using a talent marketplace solution leads to more engaged employees who feel empowered to address their career aspirations within their organization. As a result, organizations can typically increase retention.

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