If I haven’t confessed it before, I’m sorry. I believe hiring is one of the most difficult responsibilities of leadership. It’s difficult for many reasons. Let me list many of them even though I may not comment on each one:

  • Those hiring are inexperienced and have little respect for the task.
  • Those hiring believe they have good intuition.
  • Our society continues to design job descriptions for superheroes.
  • Applicants have varying levels of self-awareness and lie to themselves (even unintentionally).

Those hiring have been burned in the past and now have a heightened awareness; but instead of getting educated, they create new experiential principles they hope will protect them from getting hurt again. One such principle is the commitment to hire and promote from within.

Here’s what I like about the idea of hiring from within:

  • Most of the onboarding has already been accomplished.
  • There is an obvious sense of alignment and loyalty for a current member to be embraced for another opportunity within.

Here’s my concern:

  • New hires from outside the organization can bring new and positive insights.
  • New hires can bring new energy.
  • New hires usually bring in new resources.
  • Most concerning is the temptation to promote someone who is not qualified just for the sake of being true to a well-meaning but less informed principle.

Currently, I’m working on a team in San Antonio, Texas. I like how they explain their desire to hire from within (and yes they have been burned):

“One aspect of our culture is leadership development. We have worked to create a path for people to grow with us. Therefore, we desire to fill as many roles as possible from our pipeline without looking outside the organization. If we are unable to do this with a clear conscience in regard to the variables being considered, we start searching outside the organization.”

If only one lesson can be learned from experience, slow is not a weakness when it comes to hiring.

There are many reasons for poor hiring decisions but two share the spotlight: we do not seek the truth as we should and, as a result, we have not acquired enough information in the decision making process. Let’s walk together in wisdom and humility.


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