Since the start of the pandemic, internal mobility and workforce planning strategy have consistently reappeared as HR news topics. Especially considering internal promotion costs about half as much as external recruitment. Many HR are tempted to go down this path, however, they don’t always know where to start. Internal mobility necessitates proactivity on the sides of both HR and current managers. Without preparation or anticipation, internal promotions can actually lead to losing talent quickly.

Losing talent: mistakes to avoid

When we want to start the process for internal mobility, we tend to act quickly without taking into account all of the critical data that may determine its effectiveness. You may feel that as soon as an employee’s potential is detected, you need to quickly begin the process.

Decisions based on subjective data

Once you decide to integrate a workforce planning strategy, annual reviews become essential. These check-ups are one of the first landmarks to organise when planning internal mobility. This meeting allows for HR and managers to to take stock of their experiences and to consider the evolution of employees in regards to their potential. However, if relying solely on feelings, we risk making decisions that are not at all objective and that could impact the effectiveness of internal mobility. Hence the importance of using skills assessment in parallel with talent reviews to determine each employee’s potential for development or promotion.

Rushing internal promotions

When beginning any internal mobility process without proper the structure, you actually put yourself at a huge risk of losing talent. Faced with deepening challenges surrounding the growth and development of your company, there will undoubtedly be many openings to manage teams. . Does a successful operational employee really have the necessary skills to become a good manager? Leadership is not innate in all employees, even in high-performers. That is another reason why it is so important to take the time beforehand to establish desired the technical skills and soft skills for the position that is to be filled, or even for creating new jobs.

“Treat the source not the symptoms” takes on its full meaning in the context of internal mobility. Of course, asking someone who has been promoted to manager to return to an operational position is very difficult, both for HR and for the employee who may lose confidence and motivation.

Promoting too soon

Promoting an employee who has just joined a company may be too speedy of a development. If the promotion comes just a few months after their arrival, then they haven’t even had the chance to reveal their full potential in their current position, nor to make their mark in the company or immerse themself in the culture.

It should not be forgotten that the period to effectively take up a new position can vary greatly for each employee. During an internal mobility process, it is necessary to be able to measure where an employee is at in terms of integrating into their new role before moving on to the next step..

Staying informed

During an internal mobility process, it’s easy to forget the best practices that we apply to traditional recruitment. As a general rule, when an application is not selected, the person is informed. It happens that in the context of an internal promotion, othat the employee may not be. This lack of communication will surely have an impact on the potential candidate’s motivation. From an HR perspective, it is complicated since it is a decision based on subjective feedback from a manager who believes that the employee cannot evolve.

It is therefore necessary to provide constructive and motivating feedback to ensure a positive experience, regardless of the outcome. By only delivering bad news, there is a huge risk of losing talent. The purpose of a mobility policy is to retain employees, not to cause departures.

How to maximise talent retention in the context of mobility?

Any type of mobility must absolutely be anticipated to the fullest, supervised and accompanied with follow-up.

Anticipate internal mobility with appropriate support

In the context of mobility, you always have to be one step ahead and not wait until the end of the year to take stock. It is therefore possible to:


  • Schedule an interview with a recruitment manager to formalise the mobility framework and show that the employee is considered a real candidate for the position,  
  • Train managers in internal mobility and detecting potential before people reviews,
  • Increase the number of talent reviews with employees to find out about their aspirations, development wishes and general satisfaction with their current position,
  • Provide training plans according to the desired mobility,
  • Offer support, even financial for example, depending on the type of mobility.

Avoid bias when detecting potential

If we rely solely on the manager’s opinions to detect an employee’s potential, we risk derailing the mobility process. A manager is not free of bias, especially since they collaborate with employees on a daily basis. A.I. is an effective tool for internal mobility since, more than just detecting a candidate’s potential, we can also predict the success of an employee in a position using objective data. We can then train a manager to identify potential and support their feeling with the impartiality of algorithmic data.

The key to a successful internal mobility process is the ability to anticipate all possible changes that could occur in a company’s organisation. We can consider asking managers to train their successors, in order to avoid external recruitment which will require further integration into the company. You can create significant changes in positions by enhancing your internal pool. Finally, it is important and essential to properly structure your internal mobility path. And to get support as HR, you can now rely on powerful tools that allow you to analyse the skills you have internally and save time in developing a skills benchmark.