To honor being three months into my new position as Asset Living’s first Chief People Officer, I decided to celebrate something I find to be so special about our culture – our internal mobility. Internal mobility highlights a company’s operating rhythms that enable employees to advance in their careers. These rhythms can include how leadership creates an environment that allows an employee to feel safe to ask to be considered for a position they saw posted on our job board, as well as leadership best practices that include the organization supporting a manager who identifies a member of their team that goes above and beyond as a strong candidate for an open position that would help the employee get to the next level professionally. Asset Living’s track record of filling hiring needs through internal mobility demonstrates that our people are advocating for each other and championing the growth and success of others. It has become clear to me that the value of internal mobility is embedded into the nature of how we do our best work as a team with a focus on growing our people and ultimately, our organization.
To prepare for this blog post, I was able to interview a group of recently promoted team members in our Student Housing division to learn more about their experiences associated with internal mobility. These individuals all found Asset through a variety of channels and career paths – there was no perfect background that led them to be the most qualified candidate for the position they were hired for originally, and they’ve all had unique timelines and trajectories that led them to their recent promotions.
Through these interviews, I identified three common themes from their very different promotion stories – they had great support systems within our culture, they had leaders dedicated to fostering an environment that enabled team growth, and they were all committed to their own career development – even if they didn’t feel fully qualified for what was next for them professionally. These three themes can be seen as pillars that are vital to the success of a company’s internal mobility programs and efforts.
Pillar #1: Culture of Support
The recent promotes I interviewed made it clear the culture they were a part of majorly influenced them being ready for the next level. Megan Hall shared she’s always been inspired by the internal mobility she has seen within the organization, specifically citing “the number of people who have worked here for so long and their growth stories are a huge testament” to our culture of support. She also highlighted the “resources and support we have” making an impact on her professional development – she fully believes she has everything she needs to be successful. Beyond resources, she “knows at least 20 people off the top of her head” she could call that would be willing to help if needed.
Barbara Nowak shared that being an Asset Ambassador has been a special experience for her. She has appreciated how the Asset Ambassador program brings a diverse set of employees together to make connections – she loves how everyone in the program is “friendly, nice, open, and wants to get to know each other” so that they can rally around each other as they promote our company’s greater culture.
Victoria Franklin reflected that she “has never worked for a company where everyone cared so much about [her] and other employees.” She makes it a point to pay this forward and care for our team like she’s been cared for during her time here.
Pillar #2: Dedicated Leaders
Once each recent promote joined Asset, they each realized they had leaders that were dedicated to their growth and success. Hayley Gaitlin recalls coming into Asset through a career change, which made her nervous. However, everyone welcomed her with open arms, saying if she needed anything they were always there. She mentioned that her General Manager, Victoria, has always been available to help her ever since she first started; according to Hayley, she “always encouraged [her], affirmed [her] work ethic, and taught [her] new things.” When the time came to throw her hat in the ring for a position above hers, Victoria made her feel better about being capable of doing the job, and once she got the promotion, she “received a lot of encouragement and congratulations from a variety of leaders affirming [she] would be great in [her] new position.”
Megan said she was “always encouraged to develop staff onsite”, and she has been through succession planning meetings that have helped her identify both when her team members – and herself – were ready for the next level. She also shared that leaders above her have been “phenomenal – they do everything they can to teach to make sure their teams understand the why.” She mentioned, “even though they’re not direct supervisors, [she] can always call them if [she] needs anything… everyone is always there – even if they aren’t tied to [her] specific property.”
Barbara mentioned that she was given trust from the start, which made her feel ready to take on more work. She feels like the mentorship she received from her property manager and leadership team, who made it a point to say “you’re doing great at this, would you want to try this next?”, created space for her to feel confident she could take on new responsibilities without fear of failure.
Pillar #3: Team Member Commitment to Career Development
It was evident each recent promote played an active role in their promotion story – they didn’t wait around for the opportunity to grow to come to them. They talked with their leaders about their goals, worked to identify stretch responsibilities to help them prove their readiness for the next level, and believed that they could lean on leaders as they learned new things to prepare for their next position.
Hayley shared she “will ask questions to make sure [she’s] doing what [she] needs to do to do things right.” No matter what role she has been in, she strives to practice “servant leadership by taking ownership and not putting things on others.”
Victoria came into her job in student housing at Asset Living having only worked in multifamily property management. Based on her experience receiving support to transition into student housing so smoothly once she joined Asset Living, she shared that she “always tells people you never know where your career is going to go, so be open to [the possibilities].” She believes “every day there is something new to learn”, which I am confident is a mindset that has served her well in her career here.
After conducting these interviews, I couldn’t be more excited to work with our teams to build out frameworks, best practices, and L&D initiatives that allow all of Asset’s employees to have more consistent access to their own, unique career growth experiences. I’m thankful for all of the great internal mobility that happens at Asset Living today, and I look forward to a future where there are even more stories to celebrate as the company grows.