Do you only consider your internal talent for promotion?
Some of the best and most widely recognized companies in the world have a policy to promote strong talent internally. They place a great emphasis on hiring the right talent, developing them and then progress them through their careers within the company. It’s an effective way to develop a sense of culture and loyalty within their organization. Very rarely do outsiders get the chance to compete for available manager or director positions.
While it can be a strength for a company to develop its top talent from within, it can also be a detriment. There have been companies that have become so focused on hiring from within that they promote people who aren’t necessarily the best fit for a position. Companies can try to force growth in areas that fail to serve both the company and the employee. In a sense, they sometimes promote someone just because there is a policy to do so – at the expense of hiring the right fit to move the company forward. An internal promotion strategy can only be effective if the company keeps an eye on the talents and trends outside the company.
Perform or Else!
Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, famously (or infamously, depending on what side you were on!) implemented a policy for the company to remove the bottom 10% of performers every year. They then looked outside in order to fill the talent gap and then started the process all over again the following year. He has been accused of being harsh, ruthless, and even uncompassionate. But there is one thing that he can never be accused of – letting his company become stagnant. Welch’s goal was to improve the company by challenging its top talent to continue to push themselves to excellence. This competitive environment drove excellent results and ensured that the company was always performing at a high level.
Those are the kinds of results that most of us are all looking for within our companies, although our methods of getting those results may not be the same as GE’s. So then the question becomes, “What is the right strategy for developing our employees and ensuring we have the right talent in place?” The answer isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer: It depends.
Pause, Evaluate, and Improve
- You first have to evaluate your hiring process. Are you getting the right talent to join the team? If not, you have to figure out how to change your processes to start attracting the right people. Are you hiring for potential or for immediate production? A successful company must find the right balance between the two. You have to expect production right away, but you also have to make sure you are hiring teachable talent that will be able to grow into future roles.
- Does your company’s performance evaluation process identify future potential? You’ve got to be looking beyond the employee’s current production levels. Identify what areas of the business that they want (or need) to learn more about. Find out where some of their interests are outside of current responsibilities and encourage them to dive deeper.
- Does your company have a defined employee development process? Think about your company’s ideal CEO for a moment. What would they have looked like coming out of university? If it were up to you, how would you need to find and then develop that person in order to eventually take over the top role? The answer should be the basis for a formal program to train all high-potential employees.
- How do you keep an eye on the market to form a baseline? As a company, you have to know what is going on in the market in order to keep ahead. If the focus is purely on internal candidates for new positions, then you could be missing top talent that are ready to take your company to the next level. Form relationships with recruiting firms and others in the industry to discuss the trends in the market. This will prepare you to know whether you have to start opening up your searches externally.
Without the answer to these questions, you cannot expect to promote from within as a policy. Successful companies find the balance between promoting internal candidates and using external information to push them in the right direction. Promoting internal candidates can be a great thing for the culture of your business, but do so with an eye open to what the future should hold.