In a tight labor market, employers will try anything to get talent in the door. However, sometimes the best way to fill a vacant position—especially when funds are limited—is to train your current staff through job rotations.
Particularly in large companies, it can be difficult for employees to clearly view their roles within the wider context of the organization. This can have a number of negative impacts. As companies grow, there is a tendency to develop silos—relatively isolated departments that don’t cooperate or share information with one another.
According to the Business Dictionary, the “silo mentality” is a mind-set that develops in some companies that results in certain segments of the company—“departments or sectors”—that don’t want to share information with others. It’s a mentality that is likely to lead to a reduction in efficiency and morale and can threaten a productive company culture.
Breaking down silos can be done by providing employees with opportunities to learn about, and better understand, other areas of the organization rather than just the area where they work. As we previously reported, companies that offer a chance to develop and grow are winning the war for talent by retaining the most coveted employees: those who are in it for the long haul.
Job Rotations at Estee Lauder
There are a number of strategies to acquaint employees with the activities of other departments in order to give them a better perspective of where they fit in with the organization. But few strategies are as effective as actually working in those departments. According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), that’s just the strategy being promoted by Estee Lauder CFO Tracey Travis.
Travis worked as an engineer for General Motors and ran plants, distribution centers, and sales teams for PepsiCo before leading the finance team for Ralph Lauren.
“Her journey is shaping how the New York-based cosmetics giant attracts and develops finance employees amid stiff competition for talent in a tight labor market,” writes WSJ. “Central to the effort is the notion that getting the best from a team often involves placing talented employees outside their comfort zone.”
Travis has pushed for the creation of a program designed to give her staff exposure to a variety of business functions related to finance and strategy through job rotations.
In the program, finance employees move out of their assigned role to work with new managers in other areas of the department. It’s one way to broaden knowledge, build relationships, and, importantly, break down silos.
It can be easy for employees to get siloed in large companies. There are a number of strategies to try to get employees to think of the broader organization, but few things work as well as simply putting employees in the shoes of their colleagues across the company. How could job rotations help your organization break down silos?