Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Is It Time to Rethink This Standard HR Practice?

This week Forbes contributor Liz Ryan takes on some standard company policies and procedures that she thinks are outdated and counterproductive.   Among them, she criticizes the rule in many firms whereby employees must notify their manager if they wish to apply for another job within the organization.  Here's an except from her article:  

Most large and many medium-sized organizations still have policies in place that require an employee who wants to apply for a different job in the company to get his or her manager’s approval first.  Any person with three functioning brain cells can instantly think of plenty of good reasons why a manager might prevent a qualified and eager employee from moving into another job.  It’s a pain in the neck to replace a key employee. You might want to keep a great person on your team to boost your own chances at getting promoted... HR people working together with your employees should arrange transfer and promotion interviews. If an employee doesn’t get the job he applied for, his or her manager never even needs to know about it. If s/he gets the job, the manager can be brought into the loop at that point.

I'm curious what readers think about Ryan's recommendation.  I can see both sides of this argument.  In many firms, this rule does inhibit employees from pursuing new opportunities at times.  Some managers do horde talent to the detriment of employees' personal development and to the detriment of the organization's effectiveness as a whole.   On the other hand, Ryan's idea puts human resource professionals in an awkward spot. Moreover, it leaves managers - perhaps very good ones - completely in the dark.   Ideally, human resources should be facilitating career development conversations between managers and subordinates, rather than sidestepping supervisors in this manner.  They should be encouraging and facilitating each manager to talk to their people frequently about their goals and aspirations (not just at an annual performance review).  Moreover, human resources should be talking to managers about employee engagement data, so that they can proactively address situations where people may be frustrated on a particular team.  Finally, human resources should be facilitating discussions at more senior levels about key job openings, so that the organization can proactively identify key talent that it may wish to move into a new opportunity.  

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