Promote from Within or Hire from Outside?

A Hiring Dilemma

Bob’s company has an opening in sales, but the last salesperson he hired did not fit the company culture and ended up being a big disappointment (not to mention costly!). Bob wants to avoid that mistake the second time and is thinking about promoting someone from within his company, maybe from customer service.

Here’s how Bob sees it: a current employee is someone he knows, someone who already fits the culture, someone who already knows the products, and someone who has a great relationship with existing customers. He is asking himself, “Since the employee is already good with the current customers, wouldn’t he be good with new ones?” Even if the inside employee is not as good of a salesperson as he could get from outside, Bob doesn’t want to end up with another bad egg. He can’t afford the headache and is really leaning toward the inside promotion. What should he do?

Hire From Outside or Promote from Within?

The problem is, Bob hasn’t seen two hidden issues that fundamentally change the equation.

  1. The first issue is that Bob is not confident that his hiring process will bring him the right people. He views hiring as a risky business with a high chance of failure. This limitation will constantly affect his staffing and promotion decisions and may hold him back from bringing on potential star performers.
  2. The second hidden issue is that Bob mistakenly believes that a great employee in one position will still be a great performer in another role. He has even seen other internal moves fail and wondered why great workers don’t produce the same results in other positions. The solution to both of Bob’s hidden issues is the same thing: confidently and consistently fitting the right person to the right job.

Job Benchmarking

The best way to identify the right person for the right job (in the right organization!) is Job Benchmarking. The benchmarking process lets the job talk first to answer the question: what kind of person is best suited to the demands of this position?

Studies continually show that satisfaction, engagement, and performance all go up when the employee fits the job. Once the job is benchmarked, any potential candidate (inside or outside) can be assessed to determine how well they match the job demands.

The internal candidate may be the best choice and might perform well in the new role. But it is more likely that the same characteristics that make them a great performer in their current job could sabotage their success in a role with different responsibilities. Either way, Job Benchmarking takes much of the risk out of a new hire, because the employer can “see under the hood” and identify red or yellow flags before the hire.

Hire for the Likelihood of Success

So what should Bob do—promote from within or hire an outsider? The answer is to let the job talk. He should benchmark the role and assess both internal and external candidates to learn which one has the greatest likelihood of success in the role—then hire that person!

With Job Benchmarking, Bob can lower his risk, increase his confidence, and gain important performance-related data about the candidates from the start.

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