Question: How to Recruit from Within

When companies look to fill a position, they may THINK they don't have an internal candidate with the right qualifications, but I feel that may be because they just haven't uncovered all of the skills and potential of their internal staff.

I am looking for experts in this area to speak to the issues of efficiently identifying talent from within, especially through the use of data analysis, manager feedback, etc, to uncover the potential within existing employees to fill open positions.

What can growing companies learn from GE, P&G, McKinsey, etc who seem to be leaders in what they do partly because their leadership teams are drawn largely from within?

3 Expert Insights

There are several things at play in this question.

First, leaders need to understand their role in growing and developing their employees' skills and talent, and being comfortable sending them off to the next role. Too often, leaders hide their top performers, fearing a hit to the department if they leave. This really talks to the culture you've built in your organization - much as you are describing in those companies you list - where growth is the norm, and employees are encouraged to learn and develop for future roles.

A collaborative talent management process driven by a technology platform can be very helpful, but only if the culture supports and, in fact, promotes growth. One element of a talent management program that has served my organizations well is the assignment of talent to cross-functional project teams. It gets the employee out of the daily routine, exposes them to others in leadership roles, and tests their resilience to change.

I caution you though, about looking at filling positions exclusively from within. I have found that over time organically grown leadership teams become myopic, and struggle with challenging their own status quo. A realistic infusion of talent from other companies and even other industries can disrupt this tendency.

In terms of growing leaders, I go back to the 80's when organizations rotated talent through line and staff positions in order to expose them to the whole business, rather than a silo. We seem to have sacrificed that process because everyone is so busy, but it is a phenomenal way to not only develop talent, but build collaboration.

Researching best practices is a great way to glean lessons learned regarding performance management and succession planning.  I believe effective internal sourcing is based on three criteria:  performance over time, potential, and desire.  

- Performance can be ascertained through the implementation of a competency model along with manager and "other" feedback.  The Lominger Leadership Architect set of competencies is state-of-the-art, in my opinion.  Identifying current and future-state competencies will provide a baseline for all performance measurement and feedback.

- Potential is determined by evaluating a person's ability to think and act at a higher level.  Ram Charan's book, The Leadership Pipeline, is a superior resource to get you started thinking about what potential looks like (the associated behaviors) at each organizational level.

- Desire on the part of the candidate is critical.  As leaders, we may think that a person is perfect for a future role - but if he/she doesn't want it, well - it is like fitting a square peg into a round hole.  It just won't work.  I like to ask each employee to complete a career profile as part of his/her performance management program.  With this profile, you see the past history, present responsiblities, and future desires.  Yes - everyone wants more money; but do they really want the responsibility that goes along with that money?

Other considerations:  The use of a well-defined checklist can assist in identifying performance and potential.  The data from the checklist feeds into a 9-block model Periodic talent review sessions are valuable in that leadership is able to vet enterprise talent and identify potential gaps/needs in the succession pipeline.

Hope this gets you started!  A robust performance management/succession planning program is such a vital contributor to the success of an organization.

Vibrant organizations have succession planning (nine box ratings being the most common), a learning culture and quite often a promote from within strategy. These organizations experience far greater results in attracting and keeping top talent.

Why? Top talent wants an environment where they can find challenges and opportunities to grow. If they see that all of the emerging promotional opportunities are going to outside hires they will start to look for options to leave.

Management needs a commitment to develop their talent pipeline. Programs can and should be developed to close whatever skill gaps exist in the organization. This will then remove the necessity to look outside of the organization for key roles. The developmental and implementation costs for a talent pipeline management program can be reasonable. It takes commitment and buy-in to execute