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Although just an employee with no authority, I've been trying to encourage processes that will lead to more employee development, especially to transition employees to more skilled roles. I'd love to see mentoring or job shadowing or more awareness of what other roles do.

There is one substantial blocker, however: the customer service department has a policy preventing employees from applying to internal positions the first six months they work for the company.

This seems illogical to me. Giving employees opportunities to advance their careers within the company is great for morale and reducing turnover. An employee that has already been hired and interviewed, and has some experience with the company and is known by others, would have substantial advantages over hiring an unknown quantity from outside the company and paying the recruiter. And certainly in any customer service situation, six months is a long time. It seems unfair that people who take a customer service position are resigning themselves to fewer opportunities with the company than those who did not take that position.

The manager over the customer service department is great and caring and motivated to have an excellent team. However, she--understandably--is frustrated with the idea of regularly losing her best team members to other departments within the company and having to continue hiring to replace them. She wants her department to be respected.

The six month moratorium on applying to internal positions is bad for the company, but good for her. How could I convince her to repeal it, when it would seem to be against her best interests?

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    Six months is an extremely short period of time. Considering how long it takes to interview, hire, and train employees and get them fully up to speed, it seems perfectly reasonable to block employees from transferring immediately.
    – David K
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 17:06
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    To the close and down voters: This question is well written and fits the on-topic definition for The Workplace. If you disagree with the premise of the question, it is perfectly acceptable to post an answer which explains that explains that. (See this answer on Meta)
    – David K
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 17:41
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    @DavidK I agree. Voting to leave open. If I am missing something, perhaps one of the elders can educate me as to why it needs to be closed.
    – Neo
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 17:45
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    Voting to reopen. This question is asking about how to talk to a manager about changing a policy, not about how to interpret the policy itself.
    – David K
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 16:25

3 Answers 3

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The six month moratorium on applying to internal positions is bad for the company,

I can see how you might think this from your perspective, but as evidenced by company policy they don't think so.

  • Companies have plans and budgets. If turnover is high in a department, that impacts their ability to deliver results as projected. If they have to spend extra time and money to replace staff early, their efficiency is reduced.
  • If an applicant wants a different position within 6 months, then it is quite likely (in my opinion) that they wanted this position all along and only took the first position to get in the door. This is not fair to the department who hired in good faith. If you want that other job, than apply for that instead.
  • Specifically to customer service, it will take a while for you to become experienced enough with the companies products to be a quality rep. Your early departure will have wasted the department's time. Customer service is an often overlooked, yet critical function within the company. If your customers aren't happy, they won't be your customers for long. This department needs continuity.
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The six month moratorium on applying to internal positions is bad for the company, but good for her. How could I convince her to repeal it, when it would seem to be against her best interests?

If I were in your managers position, I would not repeal it. Six months seems very reasonable or could even be seen as too short of a time to serve in the position. Consider the amount of time it takes to become proficient in that space. ( learning the products, company policies, etc. )

It costs money and time to train people, and if the department is constantly training people, the level of service provided is degraded and your manager is ultimately accountable for that.

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The six month moratorium on applying to internal positions is bad for the company, but good for her.

This is a really, really big (and likely incorrect) assumption. As someone who has managed a customer service department, it's pretty obvious you've never actually run a department (not meant as a slight, but an observation). It's far more complicated than it looks from the outside, particularly when it is managed competently (good managers make management look simple and easy, but it is anything but).

The company likely spent a large amount of money hiring that employee (advertising, screening, interviewing, recruiter fees, training, etc.). They need time to recoup that investment. My rough break-even on an employee generating a RoI was about 2 years! You spend money hiring, then you're paying salary for "sub-par" work (they're not earning their keep as they train, learn systems, soak up time from experienced folks, make mistakes (learning opportunities), etc.), then you're paying salary for "par" work, then you're finally earning back the initial investment with above average work. Sure, it's better for them to turn-over internally, but it's not really that much less expensive to hire internally. The new department gets a slightly faster RoI and slightly lower risk (good at customer service may not translate into good at accounting, software development, marketing, etc.), but the customer service department lost money on the deal and has to start over with a new hiring process.

If you have high turn-over within a department, you're constantly in those "sub-par" and "par" phases and the customer service organization is hemorrhaging money for below average service. Depending on the organization/industry, customer service is one of the most critical components of customer retention and/or return business. Depending on budgeting, metrics, employee comp plans, the manager might be in "hot water" because her department is over budget and under performing.

The other unintended side-effect of the customer service as a stepping stone into "more skilled roles" is the attitude that creates within the customer service department. People don't want to be there, they don't see a future there, they don't feel appreciated for their work and skills. Your best employees want to get out into the "glory" positions within the company or worse, leave the company for another customer service job that is better appreciated/supported.

She wants her department to be respected.

Start by learning to respect her department.

It's obvious from your question that you don't like customer service work, and as a result don't value it ("more skilled roles", "certainly in any customer service situation, six months is a long time", the idea that there is no career growth in customer service).

  1. Customer Service is an extremely skillful position. It's really hard to handle difficult customers. You have to be knowledgeable, good at thinking on your feet, diplomatic, etc.
  2. Six months is a long time to do something you hate, and you shouldn't accept a job you're going to hate. But if you like or are ambivalent about your job, 6 months is no time at all.
  3. Customer Service should absolutely have a career path beyond Customer Service Rep I. It can go into content creation (FAQs, manuals, webinars, videos), training, consulting, etc. My department's "rock star" employees were making comparable salaries to our "rock star" developers. If your company doesn't have a natural career path within customer service, that's a far better answer to the perceived problem.

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