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Make the most of chain reactions in career management

SONY DSC“We have been trying to fill this senior position for over half a year with no success.” This is a common complaint of many senior HR professionals and managers.  The higher the position is, the more difficult it becomes to find the right candidate for the job. So they keep searching on the job market, but often they forget to look around within the company itself.

“If I have a vacancy to fill, I’ll promote someone into it, then fill that newly vacated post from below, and so on,” said a HR manager, “until, finally, there is left a vacancy further down the organisation which is easy to fill from outside. So when there is a vacancy, we typically fill it from inside the company, and create a chain reaction of people moving upwards. This is all planned as much as possible. We know where to look for a replacement when a vacancy arises, so it is easy to prepare to move the system. As many as three promotions can be effected in a single round. It is great from the motivational point of view – you can communicate it, for example, we express our congratulations in a newsletter to those who have been promoted. This gives motivation and provides perspective to those who work here.”

So what are the key elements in starting a career chain reaction?

  • Conscious succession planning. If a manager quits the company, or went on a long sick leave or maternity leave, who could jump in to do their job? In many organisations it is requirement that every manager name their successor. For some managers this can be an unnerving exercise. After all, we all like to think that we are irreplaceable, that no one can do our job as well as we do. It takes time and very conscious communication to convince the company’s managers – being able to identify and develop your successor is the ultimate management skill that makes you, as a manager, invaluable to your organisation.
  • Smooth recruitment process. Internal promotions always mean that someone in the organisation will ultimately lose a capable and valued member of his team. This is painful for any manager. The only way to ease the pain is to make sure that the departing colleague will quickly be replaced with somebody of equal excellence. If the recruitment process is slow and inefficient, managers will not support their team members’ career development.
  • Spread the news. Career opportunities are some of the key motivators in an organisation. This is especially true of generation Y employees. If there are success stories in your company, if people managed to climb up the career ladder, make sure you share these stories. Newsletters, intranet, company meetings – use all available forums to show your employees that this is an organisation where talented people can enjoy a “career”.

How about you? Do you exploit career chain reactions in your company?