Previous posts to my blog have argued for organizations to promote from within whenever possible. I feel this will have a tendency to reward loyalty, thus creating an espirit de corps within the ranks. One of the leading innovation and efficiency killers is having a staff of workers with low morale. Producing revenue from services rendered or products sold is the key for all business to be successful, but heightened revenue rates can be easier to achieve if the workforce is feeling good about the organization and is experiencing high morale. A happy workforce will be a better workforce.
One aspect of creating high morale in the workplace is having opportunities that allow for upward mobility for employees. If someone is hired into a new position to an organization that has limited mobility, many of these employees will remain long enough to gain experience, and look outside the organization for opportunities to move up within the industry. Clearly, not every organization is experiencing rapid growth, which can lead to multiple opportunities to promote from within, and in many instances over the last few years, people may be clinging to their current position for fear of being let go and entering a very sour job market.
This all leads me to the following scenario, which I fear plagues many organizations. Suppose a worker has been working at an organization for a significant period of time and has been doing very well. Perhaps this individual began work, and over the course of time assumed more duties and responsibilities without complaint, and has been an excellent worker. If the organization has proper leadership in place, this individual would be primed to move up the ranks of the organization levels. Perhaps some co-workers may feel slighted, or overlooked, but if this individual was challenged at their original level, when an opportunity presents itself, they would be justified in being selected.
In a perfect world, this deserving individual would be promoted into a new position of greater responsibility and expectations. However, I have seen far too often in my own experiences, these individuals may not be the ones selected. In fact, in many cases, people from outside are brought in to unadvertised high-level positions. This common practice (good ol’ boy club???) can easily be detrimental to organizational morale.
There are two different ways of viewing this practice. The first could be something along the lines of a higher-level position, to which there is no obviously experienced internal candidate readily available. Perhaps the job is specialized, and there exists an external candidate who can fill the position to meet the expectations of the organization, whereas internal candidates are lacking expertise and knowledge. In this example, hiring the ideal candidate directly from the outside makes perfect sense. The second example may be viewed as someone helping out a friend from the outside. Imagine how deserving workers would view this example. They may have been working very hard to build up their experiences and bought into the organizational mission, only to see a potential opportunity vanish under the guise of handing out position to someone from the outside. Worse still, having the job created without having an opportunity to interview for it.
In my own personal experiences, many of the higher level positions are not necessarily advertised for internal candidates to the extent they should be. In fact, in many cases, there is a direct hire without any advertisement. Some cases may include people to interview, and the selection has been predetermined by those who are responsible for hiring. This is a common practice, and in some cases not necessarily bad for the organization. However, organizations can benefit from grooming and rewarding employee loyalty by moving deserving individuals into higher ranks. This is a sign of a strong organizational leadership model, and can create an atmosphere of high rates of morale, loyalty, efficiencies. The bottom line is that a responsible management team will look within for future leader development rather than directly look to the outside. Otherwise, employees will see they do not have opportunities and will have diminished loyalty to the organization and will most likely move on at the earliest opportunity.