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What is learning’s role in career mobility and development?

Progress doesn’t always mean stepping into a shiny new title and salary, it can mean building a new skill or working in a different sector, for example. It’s no longer a case that the only way is up, which is why learning’s role in career mobility has come into sharper focus.

Mobility today means people can move in a whole host of directions, and learning initiatives form the routes and maps that help people get to their destination.

When you think that mobility and progression play a huge role in engagement and retention, we end up with a real need to give people an opportunity to learn and grow.

Offer people opportunity mobility in order to learn

A lot of little steps can make for a big leap – which is why opportunity mobility might be a better term than career mobility. How often do you change role? Typically no more frequently than every year and research shows that only applies to about 10% of people. 

But how often do you get the chance to work on another project, spend time with another team, engage in a stretch assignment that takes you out of your job description – that happens far more frequently. And these moments of peer learning help you hone your skills, while also creating a wider understanding of the rest of the business. Bringing it back to learning, your strategy can factor in these schemes for internal mobility for a win-win situation. 

Uber have developed an internal gig platform where employees can apply for short-term assignments or projects alongside other teams, designed to take up just 5% to 15% of their time. It might not give them their next role, but it could play a big part in their growth and career trajectory. 

Succession planning and social learning

But if you do want to step into someone else’s shoes, why not spend some time walking and working alongside them? When you’re looking to create succession planning internally, you really can’t do that without some kind of structured learning or mentoring program. You can probably split this into two parts or things you need to work out: what does that person do each day and which skills do they need to do that?

Essentially, that’s building a skills profile for each person – which can be truly beneficial if you want to prepare one person for someone else’s role. Which skills does that aspiring employee lack in comparison to the role they’d like to occupy? Once you pair those people together in a coaching and mentoring capacity, you can create a structure where one is passing the right traits and knowledge needed onto the other. 

It’s worth reminding yourself that this not only helps engage the mentor and mentee, it can help you manage recruitment costs and ensure that when someone steps into the role, they’re hitting the ground running.

Mobility makes people stick around

No progress might mean no people! In the sense that they’ll leave if there’s no signs that you’re investing in their development. Learning is a great way to show people that you’re committed to their growth and there’s a reason to stick around. Actions always speak louder than words, so you can tell people you’ll invest in your development all you like, but when get them onto a learning pathway you’ll show them you mean it.

The other challenge is that sometimes people stick around and become completely disinterested without mobility opportunities. Offering them a learning pathway, a mentor, opportunity mobility or chances for growth can light a spark of motivation in them and get them back on board. 

Managers and leaders can grow too

Everything we’ve mentioned so far involves a leader or manager who can create the opportunities, pathways and connections needed for mobility. We don’t normally like to get too deep, but in those cases, the person creating the learning opportunities is actually learning the whole time too.

When there’s a shared purpose of someone’s career path and progression, it gives an extra dimension and level of focus to the employee/manager relationship. And that can build your leaders too, giving them extra mobility and greater skills!

Giving people the self-directed learning option 

But you don’t want a situation where someone’s development is completely dependent on a manager deciding what course they should take or training they need to head off for. When you own your own development, you’ve got more control over your career’s direction. 

The right tech can play a huge part in this! At HowNow we want to create one place for all your learning and give everyone a key. That means all your scattered learning internally and externally gets brought together and people can access it on demand, on their terms. There’s much more to it than that, like using AI to recommend relevant content and helping you measure skills – but you can get to know a bit more about all of that by watching our on-demand product tour.

Getting people from where they are to where they want to be

We alluded to it already, but you’ll have a much easier time getting people in the direction they want to be heading when you get an understanding of their skills. Typically, if someone’s in a certain role and wants to get somewhere else, they’ll be lacking either the skills or experience needed to make that move.

Measure skills, build a profile and understand those gaps. Creating a learning pathway is how you’ll build a bridge over those skill chasms! And sometimes, there’s just no meaningful mobility without a bridge to help you on your way.