Promoting From Within Or Hiring From Outside

One of the most difficult decisions that leadership must make is whether to promote an employee from within, or hire someone new from an external candidate pool. I have been on both the winning side and losing side of this dilemma. In other words, I have been an internal candidate who got the promotion, and I have lost a promotion to an external candidate. The lesson that I learned was “my perspective about the situation was critical.” I could have allowed the rejection decision to hurt me, and I did get my knickers in a bunch initially, however I eventually ended up on the better path, which was keeping focused on what I was supposed to do where I was working.

Leadership in the organization needs to be concerned with what is called reject/accept errors. So often when leadership hires from outside of the company they choose a candidate that paints themselves in a very good light, but often the promises do not pan out. This is what HR specialists call accept error. Somehow the wrong person got the job, which led to organization failure.

Reject error is when the person who should have gotten the job goes on to another company and is successful. They were rejected but did the same job well somewhere else. Hopefully the organization’s HR practices will limit this phenomenon, but it happens all to often. The wrong person gets the job.

Personally I think accept error is the worst outcome of the two. Getting the wrong person in a job can often devastate an organization, usually, because it is hard to get rid of the employee.

But what should leadership do? Should they hire only from within? Probably not, but it really depends on where the organization is going. There are certain companies that only promote from within. They are strong companies that do good in our society. There is precedence for hiring from within. You have a known entity. However, often the external candidate is chosen because there is an organizational culture that leadership is trying to change. To do that they believe they must bring in a new perspective. This is risky, but leadership sees it as necessary.

It is tough for the internal candidate, who was very capable at doing the job, yet does not get the position. But I have also learned that when this happens there is usually another door that opens. One that is much better than what they were trying to get. At least that is what happened to me.

To those internal candidates who did not get the promotion, don’t worry, something even better is coming along! To those external candidates who got the job, do the best you can, because you were hired to bring about change, and change is tough.

And that is my thought for the day!


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