Managers – to hire externally or to promote from within?

Recently we were making a major decision in MedRecruit for a very important leadership role in the recruitment team.

To hire an external person or to promote from within?

I believe there aren’t complicated answers, there are only complicated questions.

This is a complicated question.

So, we focussed it; what is our track record of success with recruitment leaders?

External hires

Hired three, failed with two, long path to success with one.

I give the long path to success a half point, so that’s a score of 17%.

Internal promotions

Promoted five, great success with three, not successful with two.

Score = 60%.

So, looking at the stats, internal promotions have a higher chance of success by a multiple of 3x.

Let me be clear, all external hires went through a comprehensive evidence-based recruitment process so they wern’t frivolous decisions.

But we still got it wrong more often than not.

Now, to look internally. We had an obvious candidate so we went through a rigorous process of interviews and psychometric testing, and we promoted her.

What this process has reinforced for me is the importance of having a strong leadership pipeline. In recruitment, team leadership can make or break a team. Given this, we must always be looking to the future and building leaders to promote internally.

It’s Moneyball, in business.