The Manager’s Role in Employee Internal Transfers

Published On: August 31, 2022Categories: Onboarding Articles>Transitions

[Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from Sharlyn Lauby, president of ITM Group and author of the blog HR Bartender.]

One of the best ways to better employee morale and fill job openings is through internal transfers. Employees can move into a position that helps them in their career goals. The organization can retain the employee because they’re helping with career growth. Other team members see the company’s commitment to employee career success. When done right – everyone wins!

A key element in making internal transfers happen is the employee’s manager. Employees want to know that their manager proactively supports their career goals. The focus should be on the word “proactively.” Managers should know what employees are looking for in their careers and have regular conversations about career goals.

Here are four activities that managers can do to let employees know they proactively support an employee’s internal mobility.

Make sure employees know the policy. Many companies are reluctant to discuss the qualifications for a transfer during orientation or onboarding, but there needs to be a time to inform employees about the policy. Managers should let employees know when they are eligible and how to express interest in an opening. This is also an excellent time for managers to let employees know they will support their transfer requests.

Don’t wait for the employee to initiate the conversation. Managers often have prior knowledge of job openings. If the manager knows that an opening will be posted soon, and it’s an opening the employee might be interested in, tell them! Or if the manager knows of an opening that the employee would be terrific at, let them know! It’s not necessary to wait until the employee expresses an interest.

Provide feedback. If an employee expresses an interest in a transfer and is not qualified, the manager should speak with the employee. The employee might still ask to be considered, but they know the manager’s feedback. The manager should speak with the employee about the process if an employee is considered for a position and not selected. This is an ideal time to let the employee know what they need to work on and affirm support for the employee’s goals.

Always wish the employee well. When an employee is approved for transfer, the manager should wish the employee continued success with the company. They should work with the employee to create a transition plan that ensures the work will get done. This is an opportunity to celebrate! The rest of the team will recognize how the manager handles the transition. A good transition speaks volumes about the company’s commitment to internal mobility.

Managers can include these activities in regular employee one-on-ones, performance coaching, and performance reviews. It can be an extension of the existing discussions about an employee’s career goals.

It could be tempting to downplay internal transfers because managers don’t want to send the message that they’re trying to get rid of someone OR that they can’t afford to lose a team member. Organizations should encourage managers to view employee transfers as an opportunity to show that they are capable of developing talent. Managers who can develop employees are invaluable to organizations.

Employee transfers are a proven way to help employees grow with the company. They know the organization so that they can become productive quickly. And the employee still knows the skills of their prior role, which is excellent as the organization grows.

If you want to learn more about how internal transfers can benefit the organization, check out the “Internal Transfers: 5 Benefits for Organizations” session at this year’s SilkRoad Connections conference. The virtual event is being held on September 21 & 22.