Discover the big disconnects in performance management today in the 2024 State of Performance Enablement report.

How Performance Enablement Promotes Internal Mobility

By Michelle Gouldsberry
4 minute read
Updated on April 17, 2024

The competition for talent is raging, and if you want to retain top employees, it’s time to shift to a performance management model that acknowledges and rewards employee growth.

Performance enablement offers an alternative to traditional performance management, which focuses on the past. Performance enablement is the next generation of performance management. It focuses on the future and promotes internal mobility to give your employees the recognition and opportunities they deserve — within your company.

But, according to Betterworks’s 2024 State of Performance Enablement research report, 2 out of every 5 employees never receive feedback from peers and 1 in 5 don’t have regular conversations for performance and development with their managers. The 2022 research showed that 1 in 10 rarely or never receive feedback from their manager, which can stunt employee growth. And only two out of every 10 employees feel that they are always tasked to work on the right things.

When you implement continuous performance enablement, employees are much more likely to find where they belong in your company. Here’s how shifting from traditional performance management to a performance enablement model supports your company’s internal mobility strategy.

Performance Enablement Supports a Culture of Mobility

Performance enablement conversations between employees and managers focus on growth and potential. When those conversations happen frequently, it becomes second nature for both parties to look for opportunities to learn and grow — whether within their current role or by experimenting with new ones.

Because performance enablement homes in on potential, it can create a culture where managers are invested in helping employees find where they belong. Traditionally, managers have hoarded high-potential employees. A culture of enablement, by contrast, helps managers see that an employee’s greatest potential can’t always be found in the department they started in.

A culture of performance enablement drives home the idea of talent as a shared resource. It helps managers prioritize optimal placement over a personal desire to hoard high-potential talent. Reward managers for helping their team members find the right place within the organization — even if it’s not in their department.

To facilitate internal mobility even further, give employees opportunities to pick up “gigs” within the business. If managers post their needs, employees in other departments with adjacent skillsets can take on a project and learn more about what that role entails.

Performance enablement helps normalize employees taking opportunities in other parts of the business to discover their interests and strengths.

Performance Enablement Empowers Purpose and Growth

Performance enablement is most successful in driving mobility when each employee’s goals are attached to business priorities. When employees can see how their strengths provide value to the business, they’re more likely to engage in a search for their true potential.

To enable employees to find the right path, make the organizational chart transparent and easy to understand. Use your goal alignment software to give employees visibility into their options for mobility within the organization.

When employees see the value they can create for the business and the options for movement within the company, they are empowered to find new avenues for professional development.

With performance enablement, employees will better understand how they can grow to support the business, creating greater self-awareness of their potential. That can help them make better decisions and seek better learning opportunities within the business.

Frequent Feedback Inspires Employee Growth

When managers have regular conversations with employees about their performance, employees will be able to see their potential more clearly — especially in the context of the business.

Frequent feedback from managers helps employees discover their strengths and bring them to life. The more often managers have performance conversations with employees, the better managers will understand their team’s unique strengths and offer learning opportunities that help employees hone their strengths moving forward.

Setting expectations of daily interactions and frequent feedback shifts the employee mindset to focus on growth and development. These expectations can also help employees become better at their jobs and create opportunities for vertical mobility. When employees expect their managers to be “making the rounds,” they’re more likely to pay attention and intentionally engage with their daily tasks.

Stronger engagement helps employees discover their interests and strengths while making them more alert to options for internal mobility.

Coaching and Collaboration Drive Career Progress

When managers serve as collaborators enabling performance, one of their primary goals is to help employees discover the greatest contribution they can make to the business. Working together, managers and employees can explore career possibilities that match the employee’s strengths.

As coaches, managers help employees reach the career goals they previously helped them define. Learning opportunities are among the most important resources coaches can use to unlock employee potential. These could be opportunities to learn on the job, picking up a gig in an adjacent role or training sessions or learning modules in a learning management system.

One of the manager’s most important roles in a performance enablement model is providing accountability to employees. With their career goals defined and learning opportunities selected, it’s up to the employee to demonstrate initiative and participate. As mentors, managers can help provide accountability by asking employees about their goals in performance conversations and helping them set personal objectives to keep their learning on track.

A Focus on Potential Promotes Mobility

Inspiring employees to look into their future helps them set aspirational goals. Performance enablement empowers the workforce to strive for their full potential, even if it seems far away.

You can carry this into other aspects of HR, too. When you hire candidates, always think about their long-term growth potential. Make it clear to them that there are opportunities for growth and internal talent mobility from the beginning of their time with your organization — even before you hire them. Most candidates aren’t interested in dead-end jobs so career mobility can be an important selling point.

Rethink career paths to provide outlets for the potential you’re fostering. Traditionally, career paths have followed an upward progression, starting with being a top performer to being a people leader and beyond.

But that’s not the right path for most employees. Don’t make assumptions about career paths or try to establish a one-size-fits-all career trajectory. Group your jobs based on the skills and abilities they require. Employees who understand their strengths will see where they fit best.

Normalizing a candidate’s ability to “jump” between roles and departments supports business agility through a thriving talent marketplace.

Performance Enablement Elevates Employees

Having options for mobility is important to the workforce. Employees need to see how they can progress within the company and their options for achieving their full potential. Performance enablement makes that happen by shifting the focus from transactional (and often punitive) reviews to interactions that drive potential and growth.

With performance enablement driving future-focused performance conversations, employees have a greater chance of finding where they truly belong in the company.