I recently spoke to a forlorn business owner who lost one of his key people.
And while this was painful, what was more painful is he couldn’t hire the person who he interviewed and knew would be a fabulous fit and could take the department to new heights.
Because someone who already works in his organization was already “covering” the job (albeit not very well) and was assumed by everyone to be the person who left’s replacement.
Why would everyone assume this?
Because that’s their culture. Seniority trumps ability.
For some, this appears “fair.” You’ve done your time, you’re next in line, you should get to move up the ladder. Through seniority you’ve shown loyalty, commitment and dedication. And you know the workings of the place inside and out. I get it. And you want a culture that appreciates seniority.
However you don’t want one that promotes, hires and fires because of it.
While it may seem fair, it’s not what’s best for the health of the company, nor for the employees impacted by the performance of this position. (Anyone have the pleasure of being managed by someone who was promoted not because of their management skills but because they were next in the pecking order?)
What’s best is to hire the person who’s the best fit.
It’s commendable to first hire from within your ranks when that internal person is truly the best fit for the position. However always post the job both internally and externally and interview all applicants. There should be no assumed hires or replacements. One interesting twist that this will also help you avoid – the person who’s been assumedly promoted who didn’t want to be (yes it does happen.)
You want a culture where employees want what’s best for their community of co-workers, not just themselves. Where what’s best is what’s fair.