Types of Internal Mobility: Exploring Lateral and Vertical Moves

Let’s talk about this cool thing called ‘Internal Mobility’. It’s kinda like a game of musical chairs but in a good way.

You see, instead of hunting for a job outside, you get to try new roles right where you are. Think of it like this – you can climb the ladder, that’s ‘Vertical Mobility’, like scoring a promotion.

Or, you can switch lanes, we call it ‘Horizontal Mobility’, like trying a different role at your level.

No boredom, loads of learning, and tons of growth. Sweet deal, isn’t it?

What Is The Internal Mobility?

Internal mobility can be explained as the internal movement of employees within an organization. 

To make this concept more powerful, organizations opt for promotions and upskilling so that the employees remain interested in staying within the company. 

The idea behind the concept is that the employees get different experiences and exposure within the same organization and don’t have to leave the job to achieve their long-term or short-term goals.

Why is internal mobility important?

Got an eye on that excellent role in another department? That’s where ‘internal mobility’ comes in, buddy.

It’s crucial because it lets you explore new roles right under your company’s roof! This means fresh challenges, new skills, and no job-hunting hassle. Plus, the company keeps your talent and knowledge.

So, it’s a win-win situation. Let’s face it, nothing beats growing and learning while sticking with a team you love. Now, who wouldn’t want that?

Types Of Internal Mobility

Lateral mobility

  • Lateral mobility is also known as role-to-role mobility. This type of mobility is lateral, and generally, the main motive is to provide a new role to the employee. An existing employee has to join another team or another department so that he can have a unique role to play.
  • In every organization, you will find some employees who feel they got stuck or their growth has stagnated; they would benefit from lateral mobility. With this type of mobility, the employees get a better career challenge and options, and they may not have to change their job.
  • With lateral mobility, the recruiting team need not put their money and energies into hiring new talent for the organization. There’s employee retention, job security, and career enhancement for the old employees when this type of mobility is applied as a career upskill method.
  • The salary structure and the seniority remain the same, but the motivating factor here would be a new and challenging role.

Examples of lateral mobility

  1. A marketing team member who feels stagnancy is moved to the sales department with the role of sales development. Here, he can enhance his skills, accept the challenging role, learn new things, and test himself in a different role. If he had left the job because of the role stagnancy, it would not happen now post-lateral mobility.
  2. A cashier in the grocery store feels that he has been doing a monotonous job, and in that case, if he gets a chance to prove himself as an accounts assistant or accountant, he would learn things in the new role. The lateral movement helps him accept the new position and move from one specialty to another.

Promotions or upward mobility

  • Promotions refer to the upward mobility of an employee. In most cases, leaders who want to recognize the success and achievements of the team members will promote them. Promotions help in professional development, better position, and many times in a higher salary package.
  • Most of the time, a promotion might not change the job function. However, ideally, if the employee gets an opportunity to help the other members with his skills or when the employee receives a better or more challenging role, it would make promotions fruitful. The employee might have the same function, but with the tag or recognition, there would be a motivation to stay in the job and enjoy the higher position.
  • Overall, promotions mean upward mobility, and it helps the employee to receive better satisfaction, better job engagement, and boost his morale. It might differ from cross-functional, wherein an employee is moved into another team.
  • The main focus of upward mobility or promotion should be to provide recognition to the employees for a better position and salary and to enhance their productivity and confidence.

Examples of upward mobility

  1. A recruiting manager being promoted to HR head with a better salary package can be an excellent way to recognize his hard work. This tag will increase job satisfaction, morale, and confidence when the manager can go to a higher position. He would want to avoid looking into other companies for a better place as he is getting a promotion in the same company.
  2. A sales associate gets a chance to head the sales team, which is also one of the examples of upward mobility and promotion.

Project-based mobility

  • Project-based mobility allows employees to use their skills, knowledge, and expertise in a particular project. They also have to handle their regular workflow, but while doing so, they have to be part of a team that has to execute a particular project.
  • There can be cross-functional movement, like an employee being moved to another team for a while till the execution of the project. It can be challenging and morale-boosting for the employees to get a premium or a learning project.
  • Employees can show and build new skills with this kind of mobility. It helps to enhance their communication and coordination skills too.
  • While the new project is on the line, the recruiters may not have to hire new talent. Depending on their expertise, they would find the same from the organization itself.

Examples of project-based mobility

An IT associate with good coding skills works on a project along similar lines. 

This IT associate has to work as per the regular workflow, but at the same time, he should implement his skills diligently for the new coding project too.

Career agility

  • Sometimes, the company may have to post an employee to a new location or department. The employee already has those skills and knowledge that can help work in a similar role through a new site.
  • Career agility can also be called job swaps or transfers. The employees might get similar or different opportunities, which would be an excellent way to upskill themselves or understand their potential.

Example of career agility

The employee who was heading one branch since it had started is now given a transfer and then to apply his skills in another branch to develop the same.

 This job transfer might be temporary or permanent. But, the main focus is on using skills the employee already has. It provides him with a sense of job satisfaction too.


The other name of mentorship is coaching. If a co-worker has good expertise and experience in a particular subject and when he offers mentorship for the rest, it can be a good development opportunity for both parties.

When the employees get a chance to work with shadow team leaders or other employees who have better skills or are ready to mentor, these things can enhance the employee’s confidence.

Example of coaching or mentorship 

At times, employees may not need a job title. But if they mentor others, they feel better than the rest.

If some employees are skilled and get coaching from shadow leaders, it can also enhance their developmental opportunities.

Suppose there’s a unique project wherein the promotion and marketing team must also learn online marketing.

In that case, they will get guidance from someone in the other department who is also good at search engine promotions and marketing.

Internal mobility has created many opportunities for employee development and growth.

While it is also beneficial for the company to not invest in recruitment tools but find the employees within the organization and encourage them with internal mobility.


Internal mobility, encompassing lateral, vertical, departmental, and geographic types, is key for modern businesses.

These movements boost organizational stability and individual skill development while enhancing job satisfaction. A solid grasp of each type aids their successful implementation.

Effectively, internal mobility fosters an adaptable, sustainable workforce and a positive organizational environment.

Types Of Internal Mobility FAQ’s

Why is internal mobility important?

It supports employee growth and retention and allows companies to utilize versatile talent.

How can internal mobility benefit employees?

It offers opportunities for personal growth, skill development, job satisfaction, and a broader understanding of the company.

What challenges can internal mobility pose for organizations?

Challenges include resistance to change, transition periods, skill gaps, and possible internal conflicts.

How can an organization promote internal mobility?

Promotion can be through transparency about opportunities, providing training, rewarding talent, and fostering a growth-oriented culture.

Keep exploring. Don’t forget to check out the ? articles.

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