05 Aug Mobility Triangles: How a stronger communication strategy can help your mobility programme
The first of a three part series looking at communication within mobility and how it can help create and maintain a world-class mobility programme. Co-written by Laura Rodriguez, Consultant, Global HR & Expatriate Management and Simon Rogers, Managing Partner, Talent Mobility Search
Three points were widely discussed in both formal and informal conversations at the ERC conference in Frankfurt earlier this year. They are listed below. These have remained top of mind for us and have prompted further consideration.
- More CEOs and CHROs are aware of mobility and consider it an essential part of their people strategy.
- International employees were, in many cases, unhappy with their experience.
- Mobility leaders are concerned about cost controls and ever-increasing compliance requirements.
If the two latter statements are turned into positives, at a high level, could they be the essential building blocks that would enable a world-class mobility programme?
We think that is probably the case. If a programme had executive sponsorship, foundational policies, processes, systems and services, fantastic employee experience and cost-effective compliance, that would make for the perfect triangle of outcomes.
The above can be expressed in a diagram, as follows:
We can also add three groups of stakeholders to each corner of the triangle. Each one has a vested interest in each statement and can be grouped into one of the three points as follows.
Of course, there are others involved: suppliers, business leaders, finance, expat families etc. Each could be grouped into one of the three points above as well. For example, key business and HR stakeholders can be grouped to the CEO/CHRO category, spouse and family members to the employee and mobility partners to the mobility category. There will be some common elements in their expectations that can inform Mobility’s knowledge of stakeholder interests.
Using the analogy of a building, the bottom part of the triangle can be compared to the foundations. You must have solid foundations to build anything. Significant work, effort and costs will go into these ‘mobility foundations’, although these are not visible above ground and little attention or recognition may be given to them – they are simply expected. However, there are opportunities here.
The remaining parts of the triangle are the visible elements; these are where attention and recognition can be expected, both good and bad.
As with any building, in addition to the building blocks, what is essential is how those blocks are integrated, be that using a glue or frame. Therefore, even if a mobility programme has (or is working towards having) each block, there is a risk that the programme would still not be viewed in the most positive light without this supportive frame.
To emphasise this, take the three bullet points above. Imagine a conversation with a CHRO, a mobility leader and an international employee, where each is asked about mobility in a company.
Of course, there is a linkage, but it would seem that you have three stakeholders saying very different things. This can be shown in the triangle as follows.
It is probable that the “frame” of each of the key stakeholders is different. They may well have dissimilar ideas about what should be expected from the Mobility Programme. Those expectations will definitely shape their evaluation of experience and outcomes.
We can think of the frame as defining the principles that ground the entire mobility programme. Those principles include both stated and implied beliefs about the importance, uses and benefits of mobility for the business and employees. These principles may be recent or they may have evolved over time. Explicit or implicit, they typically have varying degrees of adoption across company segments and levels of management.
Represented by the blue fields in the diagram above, the frame of principles influences all discussions about Mobility. Consisting of few / many beliefs, the frame is often not well articulated. Typically, it will address at least 3 questions.
- Why is there a Mobility Programme; what role does it serve?
- Senior management believes that global leaders require multi-national business experience.
- Mobility is considered a necessary experience for the development of potential candidates for key positions like CFO, COO, General Managers, or C Suite positions.
- Mobility is a hiring strategy for the acquisition and retention of in-demand and difficult to hire skillsets.
- Mobility is a business execution strategy to deploy specific skill sets on business-critical or revenue-generating projects
- What Areas of Focus are appropriate for mobility investments?
- Business needs dictate that Mobility investment be prioritized for moves to/from emerging and growth markets.
- Projected future talent shortages require that mobility investments be made in Early Career and Early Talent segments.
- Systems and processes for speed of deployment of talent in support of time-critical projects
- System/process improvements for improved compliance
- What is the defined value of a mobility experience?
- Mobility experiences are an investment that accelerates business results and talent readiness.
- Mobility experiences are career accelerators for participating talent.
- Mobility delivers quantifiable value to project staffing efficiencies and/or timelines.
What can Mobility practitioners do to ensure all stakeholders have the same frame of principles, so the conversations with/among stakeholders make more sense? How do we make what is included in the principles frame commonly accepted and transparent to all?
Logically, uncovering the company’s underlying Mobility principles would be a necessary first step. This would be followed by ensuring alignment on a core set of principles and then communicating these consistently and widely.
When a Mobility Programme has a strong communication strategy for a commonly held role, focus and value principles, the evaluation of outcomes occurs through these lenses. The triangle holds together and achieves balance. No one principle totally dominates another, and the priorities of all stakeholders shape programme evaluation. Even better, stakeholders may find themselves adopting all the principles as a unified set, resulting in a more holistic view of what makes for a well-managed Mobility Programme.
The potential integration of role, focus and value mobility principles presents some key questions.
- How would aligned Mobility Principles shape the content of formal communications to employees and management?
- How can Mobility promote that role, areas of focus and value principles be considered important by all stakeholder groups when evaluating programme effectiveness?
- Are Mobility Principles already explicit and aligned in your organization? If so, how are they called out in communications for your service offerings and evaluation criteria?
In part 2 we will look at case studies and best practices in action.
We would welcome a dialogue with you on the perspectives raised and invite your comments below or you can send them to TMS email firstname.lastname@example.org