Moving your employee to a new position within your company can be just as tricky, if not more, as recruiting someone new. Knowing the candidate beforehand often makes us more subjective.
Patrick Leguide, founder and CEO of Central Test, describes five HR syndromes that could lead to possible mishaps in internal recruitment.
Internal mobility refers to promoting employees up the ladder, orienting them towards a specialisation, or entirely switching them from one job to another. Clearly, companies must keep their employees’ career development in mind, given that workers are increasingly interested in change*. To retain good staff, it is worthwhile for companies to consider every aspect of internal mobility, including its shortcomings.
While some cognitive biases can lead recruiters to use poor judgement when filling positions internally, some syndromes can also cloud thinking. My vast experience as an HR consultant and business owner has led me to identify these five syndromes.
THE PETER SYNDROME
According to the Peter Principle, employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence. In other words, an excellent technician would not necessarily make a good technical director. Giving employees new roles and adding to their responsibilities, in particular managerial ones, inevitably leads to some hiring mistakes. To make matters worse, someone who feels incompetent will unintentionally tend to recruit someone even more incompetent, for fear of being replaced. This disastrous performance could result in an inverted pyramid of skills. To effectively combat this syndrome, companies must accurately evaluate their employees’ potential, in addition to providing them with training.
THE STEREOTYPE SYNDROME
The job involving heavy responsibility is given to a man, not to a woman; one employee is promoted to manager because of the school he went to, not because of his professional accomplishments… Discriminatory stereotypes can influence us more than we realise and could lead to cloning among managers. Companies are becoming increasingly aware of this phenomenon, as demonstrated by labour agreements that mention discrimination issues.
THE STAGECOACH AND THE FLY SYNDROME
Do you know anyone who gets involved in a project in a disorderly fashion and takes credit for all the good work once the project is over? A French fable by Jean De La Fontaine called “The Stagecoach and The Fly” tells a story about a fly who busily interferes with a hard journey, only to ask for undeserved praise: “Thus do certain people, making themselves appear very busy, Enter all affairs. Everywhere they make themselves seem essential, And, everywhere a nuisance, should be chased away.” Some people are skilled at getting their superiors to take notice of them, even though their accomplishments and abilities may not be up to par. Decision-makers can be affected by this syndrome, just like the negativity bias in recruitment, and be influenced by employees who are good at promoting themselves and taking care of their image.
THE OCTOPUS SYNDROME
Small-business owners often make the mistake of thinking that everyone should be able to do whatever is asked. I myself have made this error in the early part of my career. If your sales representative is supposed to focus on selling, this person should not work in marketing and communications. No one has the same number of arms as Spider man’s rival, Doctor Octopus! When an employee takes on a multitude of roles, this can cause confusion in terms of mobility and career development.
THE CESAR SYNDROME
The Roman Senate bitterly kicked themselves because of Julius Caesar, who was full of ambition, once he conquered Gaul and took power in Rome. Expertise and know-how are not synonyms of loyalty. Promoting someone to a key position requires special attention; a wolf must not enter a field of sheep. Your talented employees bring success to the company, but they must also demonstrate certain values.
Help is here. To keep these syndromes from unintentionally spreading, pay as much attention to internal recruitment as you do to external recruitment. When you are upfront right from the beginning and you provide good job descriptions, you have already reduced much subjectivity.
Using assessment tests can help reveal your employees’ potential, and you will better understand their motivations and professional interests, in an objective manner. Today’s personality tests such as Central Test’s Professional Profile and the CTPI-R Test focus on professional development, and they take ambition and the ability to adapt into consideration.
Employees can be debriefed about the findings at their annual review. These tests could not only stop Human Resources from making mistakes, but could also help HR make proposals about internal mobility that are best suited to each individual employee.