Hiring employees into executive leadership positions is not always a crap shoot. Sometimes the perfect person comes along, who is a perfect fit for the job, who is committed and motivated, and is a great leader.
The other 99% of the time we hope we’ve hired the right person based on their resume and interviewing skills. Once hired, what does that person typically do? Many times, they bring in their own people. The current employees get a cursory look of course, but the new leader’s rationale is simply that s/he can hit the ground running with their own team. And then, miraculously, this new leader discovers that his/her people also have other friends and is shocked when they leave to pursue another opportunity at the drop of a hat. What’s left? The holdovers who were on the hot seat from the day the new leader arrived. Needless to say, this new leader lost credibility when s/he started letting employees go for no other reason than to bring new people in. And now many employees have one foot out the door because they know their fortunes can change at the drop of a hat. Turnover continues, there is no continuity, and the culture of the company has been established. Most everyone has seen one variation or another of this scenario.
1.New Executive Hires Will Not Be Left to Chance
Now imagine the alternative. You have identified deserving and motivated employees and invested in consistent professional development or leadership training for them. Perhaps a series of one or two-day leadership seminars over the course of the year. Maybe you’ve provided team coaching for six months. Maybe you’ve invested in a 3-day leadership retreat. Now imagine you have a leadership position to fill and a choice of 5–10 in-house employees you know have gone through some formal leadership training and are ready for the challenge. Not exactly the crap shoot described in the first scenario.
Every company would love to hire qualified employees from within, except many times they forget to give them the proper leadership development training before promoting. The result? Everyone is shocked that a top performer can’t lead. Of course, hiring from the outside is sometimes necessary for a variety of reasons. However, if the culture is set that investment in employees is a priority and there is a strong preference to hire from within, it is not likely that company’s culture will allow an outside hire to simply clean house and bring in his/her people. Investing in employees requires patience and commitment. The key is that this patience and commitment will almost guarantee a culture of stability and excellence. This scenario begs the question:
What if we invest in our employees and they leave?
2. What if you don’t invest in professional development and they stay?
The answer to this question leads us to reason number two as to why you need to invest in employees. Invest in your employee development and some will leave. But the alternative may be worse. Don’t invest and they may stay. It is certainly a chance you take. Good people are going to leave sometimes no matter what you do. What matters is their impression as they walk out the door. Word will get out soon enough that your organization makes significant investment in employees. And yes, other companies will be on a mission to poach. Let them! Because you will get the reputation as an organization that invests in people. The result is the best will want to be a part of your company. Not exactly a bad position to be in.
Errol Doebler is the founder of Ice Cold Leader, a leadership consulting firm. After successful careers as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander and FBI Special Agent, Errol founded Ice Cold Leader to realize his passion of empowering great leaders and better human beings. Ice Cold Leader provides executive coaching, keynote speaking, and corporate retreats to individuals and teams across the world.
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