5 Indicators of Manager Talent Hoarding | Brian Heger

Talent Development

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Internal mobility—the movement of employees across different roles and opportunities within an organization — is a core component of a firm’s talent strategy. Yet organizations face many barriers to internal talent movement, including talent hoarding—a manager’s tendency to prevent or discourage employees from pursuing internal opportunities.

One survey by i4cp found that 43 percent of the study’s participants say their managers often hoard high-performing talent rather than encourage talent movement. Another research paper in the Journal of Management found that managers often use several “guarding tactics” when hoarding talent. However, recent research shows that when managers temporarily stop hoarding talent, workers’ applications for pursuing new internal opportunities increase by 123%. 

These data points suggest there is a significant opportunity for organizations to unlock workforce capacity through internal movement. One starting point is to help managers realize their tendency to hoard talent. Five indicators of talent hoarding might include:

  1. Some of the most talented people on your team are unknown to the organization.
  2. You limit your top talent’s exposure to work assignments outside of your team because you believe other managers will want to target them for internal movement.
  3.  You are hesitant to recommend the top talent on your team for other internal opportunities—even if you feel it would benefit your employee and the organization.
  4. When one of your top talent expresses interest in moving internally, you entice them to stay on your team.
  5. You often present the case of why “now is not a good time” to move top talent into a new role outside of your team.

Since many organizations have recurring manager capability-building sessions, perhaps a topic of discussion for a future session could be to have them a) assess their tendency to engage in talent hoarding, b) develop at least one goal on how they will support the internal movement of talent, and c) have ongoing discussions with their team leaders’ on the progress being made in achieving that goal.