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Employers across all industry sectors are seeking ways to fill positions as the Great Resignation rages on, but a simple solution could be right in front of them — existing employees. Too many companies default to seeking external candidates to fill vacant roles, but this could backfire in today’s environment. Companies that experience turnover are often left with employees who are frustrated and anxious, creating a revolving door of exiting employees.  

That said, hiring from within is not always as easy as promoting a long-time employee. Sometimes it can be a struggle to find an existing team member with the right skillset for the vacant role. An internal hiring strategy must be developed with intentional planning that includes doubling down on training and upskilling opportunities.  

According to a 2021 article from HRDive, “In September (2021), IBM's Institute for Business Value published survey findings that 74 percent of employers believed their organizations were helping employees to learn skills needed to work in a new way, yet only 38 percent of employees agreed.” 

With that level of disconnect, it can sometimes be challenging for managers to identify potential candidates for advancement or even lateral moves. Ongoing evaluation, communication about personal goals, and conversations with fellow managers and team leads can help employers not only retain employees but boost morale and fill roles more efficiently. After all, an existing employee is already familiar with the organization and will need less training and onboarding than a new employee.  

When evaluating existing staff for potential moves, managers must look beyond the surface. They must ask themselves, “What is the true potential of this person?” 

While a glance at an employee’s evaluation history could indicate they are underperforming, they shouldn’t automatically be cast aside as a potential replacement player. Production may be low and there could be indicators of low motivation, but with the right upskilling opportunities, they may have the potential to thrive in a different position.  

Indeed, one of the top job sites in the world, shares the following benefits of upskilling: 
• Increased employee satisfaction and motivation 
• More/better morale in the workplace 
• Company growth because of a more productive workforce 
• Stronger employee loyalty and decreased turnover because employees feel invested 
• Improved efficiency in the workplace 
• Increased ability to introduce new procedures and projects without losing workplace efficiency 

Communication is an important first step in determining whether the employee might thrive in a different role. Discuss with the team member their goals, ambitions and openness to a different role in the organization. This feedback can help managers identify other potential roles and areas within the organization where this person might be a strong fit.  

Once this information is known, review it with peer managers and supervisors. Discuss the potential role(s) based on the prospect’s skillset and goals.  

Once a potential alternative position is identified, discuss the opportunity with the team member. If they could be a good fit but need to develop skills to succeed in the role, develop a plan for how the employee can develop those skills. Short-term assignments or leading a specific project or initiative is another proven way to identify training needs. 

If the team member buys into the opportunity to change roles, the next important step is to build a transition plan — with the team member. Clearly define the timeline for the transition both with the existing team and the employee’s new team. Allow plenty of time for the team member to ask questions, meet with his/her new manager and team members, and to work with the existing team on a plan for ensuring tasks and deadlines aren’t missed in the transition.  

A well-planned, well-communicated strategy for moving a team member into a new role can improve the transitioning employee’s motivation and engagement. It also builds goodwill and fosters a culture that humanizes the workplace experience, making employees feel valuable versus a number or cog in the wheel.  

Lisa First-Willis is CEO of Truvelop, a performance management and coaching platform for the modern workforce that provides an efficient way to manage performance and development continuously while improving manager and employee relationships. Truvelop is a BSCAI Affinity Partner. She can be reached at