It’s vital that your firm has a healthy internal job market where opportunities are advertised and offers are made via a fair and transparent process. The alternative — a promotion culture that is rife with favoritism and secrecy — will demoralize employees and drive away talent.
Admittedly, it can seem like a waste of time to go through an internal hiring process when we think we know who the right candidate is up front. But if we don’t follow due process, we may not only fail to select the candidate who is truly best for the job, we may also undermine team morale and engagement. Being overlooked for promotion is, according to CareerBuilder, one of the key reasons that people quit their jobs.
You have nothing to lose by instituting a formal internal hiring process. Even if the process just confirms the suitability of your preferred candidate, there will be fewer hurt feelings as a result. The team members who are passed over will at least have had a chance to land the role. And who knows — the process may even lead you to uncover a hidden gem who is better than your originally earmarked candidate.
Implementing such an internal hiring process may require a bit of a culture shift, but it’s perfectly doable. You just need to treat each candidate the same and choose the one who best exhibits these four signs of being ready for a promotion:
1. The Employee’s Competencies and Performance Best Match the Role’s Key Performance Indicators
Start by scoping out the role and clearly identifying the key performance indicators (KPIs) against which the person in the role will be assessed. You can then look at each of the candidates in the running and see best meets this criteria.
It’s important to note that the KPIs for this new role may not be the same as the candidate’s current role. Don’t judge candidates according to how they perform in their current roles; judge them according to how they are most likely to perform in the new role.
2. The Employee Shows a Consistent Level of High Performance
You should rely on performance appraisal data as much as possible when making promotions, as this data is likely to be the most objective information you have on a candidate.
Don’t just look at recent performance levels; look at consistency of performance over time. The strongest candidates are those who have maintained high performance levels over long periods of time. This is a sign of a resilient and highly promotable employee.
3. The Employee Is Adaptable and Comfortable With Change
As employees climb the corporate ladder, they’ll meet more and more uncertainty. The higher you ascend the company’s ranks, the more freedom you’ll have. In this new environment, employees will face situations where there are no obvious right answers — and there won’t always be managers or leaders standing over their shoulders to help them out.
Staff members who struggle with change and uncertainty may not be ready to step up a rung on the corporate ladder. When assessing candidates for promotion, take into account how they have adapted to change and uncertainty in their current and previous roles.
4. The Employee Loves to Push Their Own Personal Boundaries
One of the key qualities of a successful leader is the willingness to step outside of one’s comfort zone. The uncertainty that comes as one rises up in the management hierarchy will push leaders into new and not-entirely-comfortable territories.
Successful leaders are able to learn from these challenging experiences. In fact, the best leaders regard these “stretch” experiences – where they are forced to adapt and learn – as invigorating.
An employe who doesn’t have the ability to operate effectively outside of their comfort zone is likely to be an ineffective, over-stressed leader.
The candidate who best exhibits these four signs is the candidate you should be promoting. Remember: This assessment system isn’t just about quelling discontent and dispelling accusations of favoritism in the promotion process — although, it certainly does those things. Rather, the major strength of this system is that it will help you select the best internal talent for new job opportunities.
Without this system, you may find yourself unconsciously engaging in a little favoritism. Not only will that cause some dissent among the ranks, but it will also lead you to make poor hiring decisions.
Do yourself a favor and institute a formal internal hiring process.