At Organimi, we spend a lot of time thinking and talking about virtual teams, virtual organizations and the changing nature of work and the workplace.

Today we’re talking about another kind of virtual – projecting your organization forward in time.  What will your organization look like 12, 24 or 36 months out?  And where will your current team members fit in?

Wouldn’t it be great to have a crystal ball so you could identify and address the team and skills development challenges you’ll need to address to get there.


Crystal balls may not be realistic, but what if we told you that – more and more – you are going to need to base your forward structure on your team today, and create a better, more transparent path for internal mobility that your team can actually collaborate on in creating? 

To start the discussion, do you post an org chart online to share with your team today showing where you think your team will be 12, 24 or 36 months out?  

Do you try and get your team to align their own career development plans with your organizational design?

If the answer is “no” you’re not alone; in fact you are probably in the majority of team leaders today.  

Most people still think of “org charts” as something in the realm of the HR organization alone. The “HR Director as fortune teller” at performance review time.

But when will your HR department, managers and team leaders start thinking about next year?  The truth is, you already are…and your team members know it.

At Organimi, we’re all about org charts — and the improvements in organizational design, talent development and workforce collaboration they can promote, when used and shared transparently.  These are pretty clear and powerful benefits for employees and managers alike.

Road maps are meant to be shared.  When you put your team development road maps out there, they will help your team members achieve better career growth opportunities within your organization, while increasing engagement levels, satisfaction scores, and job retention rates.

So get building.  Put the roles up there.  Not just today’s roles but the roles you see in the future.  See where your team takes the structure.  See where people slot themselves in, and where they want to get to.  It doesn’t take much time, and can yield lasting benefits.

Does Your Team See Internal Mobility As Pole Vaulting, Twister Or Leap Frog?

In terms of background, I came across a picture last week that made me think about today’s job market.


Okay, so its not Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima …but count those hands!

The picture seemed timely to me.  Taken in the early 1900s, it shows a team of about 15 workers raising telephone poles by hand (with high tech technology known as “long sticks” to stabilize them) for Bell.  Imagine the scene today.   Stringing phone lines is a job for a small fraction of those workers, using trucks, augurs and other job-slaying tools…if they string lines at all in a world of wireless, mobile networks….And who knows where even those jobs will be tomorrow.  See our I Robot blog.

What did happen to all those surplus workers as things changed, anyway?  Where did they go?

It got me thinking about developing internal talent, and specifically how employees inside organizations are supposed to go looking for and actually find new positions or roles that suit their needs and interests as the business changes.

It also got me wondering how organizations are helping them (or not) to do that.

Organizations evolve, as do their needs for people, skills and capabilities.  People evolve too. 

It is human nature for many of us to seek simply different, or more challenging, or more rewarding work, or all of those things.

Our question today is how do employees make these transitions within your organization, and how does your organizational structure make that possible? Collaborative even.

Do your team members have to pole vault themselves into a new role – a challenging solo effort mixing athleticism and artistry that I was never co-ordinated enough to master?  Is it more like Twister, with a scrambled mass of team members vying for spots on the game pad — and getting more and more ensnared until someone falls off the board?  Or are they able to leap frog themselves into new positions, leveraging their own work experience, and everything else your organization and team has to offer them….while having some fun in the process…and  being part of a connected, collaborative, communicating team of people helping each other get where they need to go?

Internal Mobility, “Jobsolesence” and the Jobless Recovery

We’ve come a long way from the days when we needed massive work crews to string phone lines, or do most other agricultural, manufacturing, resource, distribution or service industry activities for that matter.

So far, in fact, that people these days seem to worry a lot more than they used to about the losses – jobs, entire industries, lifestyles – as their top of mind issues.  A decade of zero growth in wages and job losses has been the big driver of this.

In the past, the process of “creative destruction” seemed to happen over longer time scales.  The description of obsolete positions we read about today, for example, seem quaint, even comical.   Even as job categories were disappearing – whether in agriculture or industry – entirely new industries were arising that consumed large pools of workers, at all skill levels.

But looked at from the point of view of the hear and now, “jobsolesence” is not so funny.  Jobs and roles are changing fast, requiring existing job holders to adapt faster than ever before and search out new opportunities as traditional livelihoods disappear.  Finding a place to grow at work feels a lot like a game of musical chairs.


Business leaders, team managers and HR professionals know this.  They’ve spent a lot of time over the last five years focused on cost containment, expectation management, and work force reduction.  There has not been a lot of attention paid to the fate of surplus workers being shed as operations are streamlined and costs are stripped from the business, or where those surplus employees might end up.

There is a deep unease about it across the slow growth west – not only for ourselves, but for our children. The Economist wrote compelling about youth unemployment a year ago this month.  In a recent essay on the future of jobs they wrote about technological innovation, the disappearance of jobs and the changing nature of work.  Their conclusion was somewhat sobering?

“Society may find itself sorely tested if, as seems possible, growth and innovation deliver handsome gains to the skilled, while the rest cling to dwindling employment opportunities at stagnant wages.”

Retaining and Promoting Your Employees In An Environment Of Abundant Opportunity

We refuse to be glum!  There is another, more optimistic, narrative!!

As The Economist notes…

Just as past mechanisation freed, or forced, workers into jobs requiring more cognitive dexterity, leaps in machine intelligence could create space for people to specialise in more emotive occupations, as yet unsuited to machines: a world of artists and therapists, love counsellors and yoga instructors.

And we don’t need to plan for future careers in touchy-feely industries only, either.  A recent Harvard Business Review blog, How Technology Creates Jobs For Less Educated Workers, for example, is equally positive in its outlook, describing how technology and business model innovation in the healthcare industry has “shift(ed) work away from the most educated workers toward less educated workers, contrary to the conventional wisdom”.  The authors report on recent economic research suggesting that “new technology increases the need for more educated workers at first, but, as technology matures, less educated workers are hired in general”.

Finally, and most encouragingly, I came across a great video this week from Deloitte, for example, providing an executive summary of its 2014 Global Human Capital Trends.  This research report on global trends in human capital, based on extensive surveys with 2500 senior execs across 90 countries, is worth the read for those looking at the trend lines 5 to 10 years out.

Deloitte talks about a world where developing countries, who now represent 50% of global GDP, will be the majority of GDP contributors by 2018…a world where the global middle class will double from 1.8 billion to 3.2 billion by 2020 with Asia’s middle class tripling in size to 1.7 trillion –  or 5 Americas in population size – by that time.  A world where over 70% of the labour force will be millenials by 2025, requiring an entirely different 21st century mindset and set of talent management and HR practises.

The Deloitte report describes a world of business organizations around the globe emerging from a recessionary mindset, beginning to take more aggressive steps to take advantage of these opportunities, and also recognizing that the 21st century labour force is qualitatively different from its predecessors.

As the report authors note “critical new skills are scarce—and their uneven distribution around the world is forcing companies to develop innovative new ways to find people, develop capabilities, and share expertise.”  The hot button business issues all focus on people issues – leadership development, engagement and retention, and talent development.

Instead of thinking about where the jobs aren’t, we’re on the cusp of a period where there will be significant growth opportunities — at all employment levels — although everyone will need to get a lot more creative, and likely a lot more virtual, with virtual teams and entire virtual organizations emerging, about how they find and fill them. 

Unleashing The Power Within: Building Career Bridges For Your Team

In a recent blog, entitled Employees Are Leaving Because They Don’t Know of In-House Opportunities, John Zappe highlights “voluntary quits” and the related issue of employee retention as a “top 5” issue for HR professionals, team managers and senior executives.

Zappe reports on the cognitive dissonance that seems to be going on between employees (who report that career advancement is their number 1 driver for leaving organizations) and a significant lack of awareness about internal mobility opportunities, with over 70% of employees in most western economies reporting they are unaware of their employer’s internal mobility opportunities.

He simultaneously observes that a substantial portion of HR professionals report that internal mobility programs and options are “well known among employees”.  As he states: “We can’t tell if awareness would have made a difference, but the statistic does point up a very significant disconnect between what workers know and what HR thinks they know.”

It may seem counter-trend to talk about an emerging shortage of workers of all kinds, but it seems to be coming. If you are a contrarian, you have to believe conditions are ripe for a fundamental change in the jobs market – a shift between demand and supply in coming years that is going to make job openings harder and harder to fill with quality candidates, at any reasonable price. It’s already happening in many fields.

Internal recruiting and retention will be vital, particularly for larger and fast growing organizations.  The question is….will your organization be ready when this shift happens?

Executives, team managers and HR professionals need to lead the way here…and should want to do so purely from a self-interested perspective.  

The common view of HR, jokingly reerred to by a colleague of mine on the subway today as “the black hole” of the organization or the “place where good ideas go to die” is itself in a state of transition, with increased opportunity to leverage technology to perform more routine, automatable work processes, and focus on the people side of their business.

The combination of skills deficits, technology drive innovation, global economic expansion and workforce demographics is going to inevitably make this the case over the next 5 to 10 years…the planning scale any organization of any size or success must now look at. 

Which we think poses great opportunities, and great challenges, for today’s organizations….to unleash “the power within”.

Making Internal Mobility Happen: The Benefits of Transparency

So suspend your disbelief for a moment.

Imagine a world where your organization is challenged – desparate even – to fill positions not just with skilled, quality hires, but with employees at all levels – in a business environment where everyone else is feeling the same pinch at the same time.

In her 2008 Recruiting Talent from Within presentation to SHRM, which you can find on Slideshare, Anne Nimke of Pinstripe Talent nicely summarizes the two “book-end” experiences of organizations on internal recruiting:

  • Those with a “vicious talent cycle” – “where high performers and top potentials are finding it easier and easier to find new opportunities (leave) while underperforming employees will stay because they have no choices (unless terminated)”.
  • Those with a “virtuous talent cycle” – “where high performers and top potential employees are engaged and encouraged to grow within your company and contribute to its culture and success while achieving personal goals.

High potential employees, among other things, want to advance and organizations should want to embrace that desire and channel it productively for the benefit of these employees and everyone else.  But it is not just about them – it is about everyone in your organization who you want to stay engaged and motivated in at work.  People need personal growth options, so what are you going to do about it?  

There are significant benefits to internal recruiting and enabling internal mobility.  Here are five:

  1. It Saves Money.  Reduced hiring costs, with recent research suggesting savings of hundreds to thousands of dollars, per position.  Companies who hire internally save money on recruiting fees, training, the opportunity cost of not having the position filled, advertising (on job boards), referral bonuses (at some companies), travel and relocation costs. 
  2. It Is Faster.  Reduce time to fill, providing faster path to productivity, and, again as confirmed by recent research, a higher likelihood of success in the new position.   The entire process from reviewing a job description to advertising to potentially paying a recruiter to interviewing several candidates to completing an actual hire easily takes months for external hires. For an internal hire, the process can be over and done with in a few weeks. Internal hires are already in HR databases. 
  3. It Generally Works Better.  Internal mobility is not just a case of the “devil you know” either.  It is easier for employees to succeed at a new job in the same company because they already have connections and knowledge about how work gets done. Wharton research has shown that while external hires were paid 18% more than internal hires, the outsiders brought in had worse performance reviews during their first two years on the job. 
  4. Employees Are More Engaged.  Internal recruiting is energizing, for everyone.  External recruiting is destabilizing.  With employee engagement levels at record lows, committing to transparent policies that promote from within helps retain, motivate and energize the high performing team members who like to compete and want to know that they have a path to higher levels of responsibility, compensation and accountability.  If done correctly, higher employee engagement happens when employees see career growth opportunities happening for themselves and the colleagues they work with.
  5. Preserving Valuable Business Knowledge and Experience.  As your workers retire and leave the workforce — and they inevitably will — you are running significant risks of losing valuable experiential knowledge that no amount of automation can replace – knowledge about your processes, your customers, your culture, your organizational history.  These assets are not on the balance sheet, but they have considerable value in a business climate focussed increasingly on faster and more intelligent execution of core business processes.  Organizations that retain and promote their personnel achieve enhanced business capability, flexibility and agility, through retention of the experiential learning and intellectual property that is embedded in the operational knowledge and understanding of your employees.

If it is the case that job markets are going to tighten, and retention is going to be an increasingly pressing issue for most companies, it likely makes sense for organizations to be developing and further honing their internal mobility options and related people development skills.  However, current statistics suggest most organizations are not ready for this.  Only 32% of the U.S. respondents identified internal candidates as a source of quality hires. Employee referrals, social networks, the company career website, and even job boards all ranked higher.

Where do yoiu think your organization sits on this issue?

Organimi, Internal Mobility and You: Get With The (Down Low) Program  

There are many systems and processes organizations can use to promote internal mobility — from career sites, to “next opportunity” discussions in performance reviews, establishing a “promote from within” culture, and creating internal employee referral and job fair initiatives.

Ideas like publishing career path / career ladder information, permitting job shadowing and lateral moves across regions, departments and teams, and transparency in succession planning and reorganization discussions are also great.

…….But then you may find yourself getting to implementation, to policy, to bureaucracy, to the black hole and to that dreaded place “where good ideas go to die”.

Internal mobility is a seemingly impossibly complex area for most organizations – regardless of size – to make change.  If you are too small or aren’t growing fast enough, there aren’t enough openings to make this worthwhile; if you are too large, the layers of bureaucracy required for change likely doom the initiative from the start.

Don’t be discouraged.  Stay simple.  Work on the down low.

Many of these ideas rely on a core set of common understandings and shared communication about people and place and passion in organizational contexts.  

So Organimi can help you make progress with these discussions.  

Have some fun.  Share your thoughts and plans about where you want to take your team, how you want to grow and where you think people fit.  Find out what interests people about what they do.  Get senior people to talk openly about their own plans for retirement and succession; get the newbies to talk about where they see themselves in three to five years.  Get beyond the cliches of “overly ambitious, undeserving” millenials and “dinosaurs”.  See the people you look at and work with every day.  

Get the people talking.  Let them tell you where they think they fit; where they want to grow and go.

Get your team on Organimi.  Connect.  Communicate.  Collaborate.  

It’s easy…and it’s free…and you can do it yourself or your team.  Visit us.  Load your team up to the Organimi roster, share your charts, and start experimenting.  Or load us from Chrome Store.

Thanks for reading.

The Organimi Team