HIRING

Don't Promote from Within: 5 Reasons

Looking outside your company for new hires can be the best strategy--even for those on the inside.
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Many people will tell you that growing and nurturing your own talent is the best way to build a great company with consistent values. I disagree. I think hiring solely from within can lead to a stagnant environment that doesn't evolve and mature naturally.  I think it can actually hold back the people you care about so much. So what's the right balance?

Here are five lessons I've learned about staying inside your four walls to find talent, and the benefits of hiring from the outside.

1. New people, new ideas 

Building a team from within does have its strengths. People know your system, and you know they get along with the team. But doing things your way and solely your way will eventually run into limitations. If you're not bringing in outside talent to keep new ideas coming in, you're missing a chance to keep your culture fresh and your company growing. The next great idea might come from someone on your existing team, or your next great hire.

2. Great worker ≠ great manager 

We have some great people who are nothing but all-stars at their jobs. But that doesn't necessarily mean they were built (or really want) to move into management. And that's one of the biggest mistakes we make as leaders.  We take a good worker, make them a manager, and then give them no tools or resources to succeed.  Then when things go bad, we blame them instead of looking in the mirror and blaming ourselves.  At small companies, we don't always have the resources necessary to appropriately train people.  When that's the case, we need to look outside.

3. Right fit for the new role

Your company is going to change as it grows. There's no question about it. New roles will develop and there's a better than good chance that you don't have the person in the building to fill that fresh position. We've tried quite often to take folks internally and give them a shot at a new role, only to realize that they didn't have the skills necessary to succeed.  It was not their fault.  But we need to make sure we know what we're looking for, and find it in the best place, even if that turns out to be on the street.

4. Better for your existing team

Hiring outside the company can be threatening to your employees.  They may feel like they've lost an opportunity and become insecure.  But if you consistently communicate the value of your current team members, this can be easily overcome.  Your employees may not recognize that they might have just met their new mentor or someone who'll help the company find success, and create more opportunity for everyone. (Remember that great worker from earlier? The one who considered to become a manager? The first step on a better path for her could be started by someone who comes from the outside.)

5. Don't underestimate your current staff

Wait, isn't this whole article about why you need to go outside of your company to find the right people? For the most part, yes. But don't be afraid to challenge the outside world with the people you have. You can show a commitment to your employees' growth by building educational and training programs to whatever extent possible.  Post that new role internally first, and communicate to staffers why they didn't get the job if another candidate is selected. And then work on a plan of action to help in-house employees get it next time, or create a new path for development.  It should be a bit of a competition between your team and the outside world to make the company better.  It's your job to find the best people to keep the company moving forward.

Last updated: Mar 28, 2012

PAUL SPIEGELMAN | Columnist | CEO of BerylHealth

Paul Spiegelman is the chief culture officer at Stericycle and founder and former CEO of BerylHealth. He also co-founded the Small Giants Community with Inc. editor-at-large Bo Burlingham. You can read more at PaulSpiegelman.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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