As a hiring manager or business owner, odds are good that you’ve been faced with the following situation: Should you hire an outside employee or promote someone from within? While your first thought may be to widen your job net with an online job posting, the fact is that internal promotions offer a number of advantages.
Not only do current teammates already fit in with your existing culture, but they also require less training than outside hires. And because you’ve seen your existing employees in action, you don’t have to worry about hiring candidates who can’t hack it on the job or have poor work ethics. With studies showing that half of all job applicants fib a little on their resumes, small business owners may be wise to hire a known quantity from within rather than an outside party whose skills and experience are questionable.
There are many valid reasons for hiring managers to promote existing employees rather than seek outside talent. However, that doesn’t mean everyone at your company has management potential. Not only do many small businesses choose to promote the wrong people, but they may also fail to take the necessary steps to groom top talent.
Here are some tips for successfully promoting from within your company.
1. Staff Well From the Start
When you’re hiring for the first time, you may be tempted to list your job on free sites like Craigslist in an effort to save money. However, starting with a thorough recruitment search the first time around can ensure you’re in a better position to promote from within down the line.
For best results, companies should use all the staffing resources at their disposal, including networking events, LinkedIn, recruitment firms and referrals from current employees. By putting a bit more money into staffing now, you can promote from a more skilled and selective group of candidates in the future.
Additionally, business owners should take care to involve department managers in the hiring process. While companies may be tempted to pawn staffing responsibilities off on hiring managers, HR associates aren’t always informed about the various skills required for a given job. By including direct managers in the process, you can ensure your workers—and possible future company leaders—are really up to the task. Involving a potential hire’s direct manager also increases your odds of finding a hire that will mesh well with the rest of the team.
2. Value Performance Over Seniority
It’s only natural for business owners to assume that employees with the longest tenures are most deserving of promotions. However, prizing seniority over performance can be a serious mistake.
The fact is that some employees may be very good at their jobs but are simply unsuited for management. Furthermore, the fact that someone has been with the company for a long period of time doesn’t mean they have the creativity or ambition needed to take on a leadership position.
When evaluating employees for a promotion, consider whom among your team is truly up to the task. The last thing you want is to go back on a promotion decision and demote the candidate a few months down the line.
3. Look for Leadership Qualities Within Your Team
Just because an employee consistently meets goals doesn’t mean he or she is management material.
Before selecting staff for promotion, you should take time to assess candidates’ leadership skills. Along with modeling excellent conduct and performance, the best leaders boast strong people skills and are well respected by their peers. In order to lead, you need to foster an environment of trust in which every team member feels comfortable sharing opinions.
Additionally, strong leaders are willing to take risks to achieve results. To identify teammates with management potential, business owners need to give their employees permission to fail on occasion. In the end, you want to choose self-assured individuals that are confident in the decisions they make and succeed more often than not.
4. Let Interested Parties Come to You
Of course, it’s not enough that your workers possess the skills to succeed; they should also demonstrate the ambition necessary to lead.
Give your future managers the chance to stand out by inviting them to take on additional responsibilities. For example, you could ask for volunteers to head up a research committee, organize an event or spearhead a new project.
Those employees who are ready and willing to put in extra hours are unlikely to disappoint you down the line when they hold management roles.
5. Nurture Your Frontrunners
You may think your job is done when you’ve selected the top candidates from your pool of employees. On the contrary, organizations need to put effort into grooming their best workers for future leadership roles.
Along with involving your best people in strategy discussions and company planning, consider subsidizing certification and degree programs that will cultivate leadership qualities in your top performers. This will benefit the business in many aspects:
- It communicates to the worker that you believe in their potential.
- It provides a perk that workers can strive toward.
- It increases the knowledge base of your team.
- It’s another company perk that can appeal to potential job candidates.
You may also want to start a mentorship program. This will allow you to give current managers a chance to guide future leaders in their professional development and boost both employee performance and satisfaction levels.
Small business owners know better than anyone that employees can cause a company to sink or swim. When hiring for an essential position, it often makes more sense to promote from within than to take your chances on an unknown quantity. Invest time into identifying and nurturing those team members with management potential, and reap the rewards of a stronger and more cohesive workplace.