Developing Your Employees’ Expertise: How Fannie Mae Does It

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In its report on African-American women in corporate management, the New York research group Catalyst singles out Fannie Mae’s job rotation program as an effective strategy for providing employees real opportunities to develop their expertise. The report, “Advancing African-American Women in the Workplace: What Managers Need to Know,” is the third in Catalyst’s series Women of Color in Corporate Management: Opportunities and Barriers, and is based on survey responses from 963 entry- and mid-level African-Americans in Fortune 1000 companies. It was presented to attendees of the colloquium “Black Women on Wall Street” organized in July by Merrill Lynch Professional Networks and the Executive Leadership Council.

Fannie Mae’s Job Rotation Program

Fannie Mae’s job rotation program is designed to give employees an opportunity to develop needed and/or desired skills and managers the opportunity to fill short-term staffing needs, as well as to track progress in these areas. Since 1999, 196 employees have participated in the program, 39 of them African-American women.

Project staffing opportunity: A manager uses a rotational employee to acquire just-in-time support to meet short-term projects and business objectives. The business unit receiving the employee’s services pays the employee’s salary and benefits.

Skill development opportunity: A rotational opportunity is used to increase the skill sets of a high-potential employee. Such rotations are initiated at the request of the employee’s manager. The employee’s salary and benefits are paid jointly by the rotational employee’s regular business unit and the business unit receiving the employee’s services. In some cases, a “swap” may be designed where managers or directors may switch jobs so neither unit loses staff resources.

All job rotations are reviewed, approved and posted through the Office of Diversity, Health and Work Life Initiatives. Employees who apply for the program cannot have performance issues. Rotations last at least three months to ensure that there is value added to the employee and business unit.