Team Building: Internal Hiring Best Practices - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Team Building: Internal Hiring Best Practices

Anyone in the lawn or landscape industry can tell you that recruiting is a challenge right now. Internal hiring is growing in popularity in response as it features multiple benefits.

Not only does internal hiring cost less and take less time, but it also boosts employee morale and provides tangible proof of career paths at your lawn care or landscape company. The amount of time spent onboarding is also reduced because the employee only needs training specific to their new role. Also, you already know that this individual is a good fit for your company’s culture.

Internal hiring isn’t something groundbreaking as businesses from the 1940s to the 1970s filled roughly 90 percent of their vacancies this way, but now only a third or less of positions use this method.

Promotions, role changes, transfers, reorganizations are all various forms of recruiting talent internally.  

Avoiding Internal Hiring Pitfalls

While the benefits of internal hiring are pretty obvious, it’s also important to keep the potential pitfalls in mind.

One potential risk is deciding to promote high-performing employees through informal relationship-based referrals. In some cases, this can lead to the employee’s failure because they were already working to the extent of their potential and were moved to a role they didn’t have the necessary skills and traits for. This is why it is critical to move internal candidates through the same interview process and skills assessments as an external candidate.

A similar pitfall is when you opt to promote an employee based only on their tenure with the company, rather than them having the applicable skills. Find other ways to recognize employee loyalty with the business instead of moving them into new roles they may not be suited for.

Another risk to be aware of is the potential to lose fresh perspectives and diversity. Opting to only hire current staff members for all your new roles can result in a stagnant viewpoint or way of thinking.     

Probably one of the biggest challenges with internal hiring is ensuring that the other team members who were not selected for a job do not feel bitter for being passed over. Be clear with internal hires that the selection process is not about rewarding them for their past efforts but is about selecting the best individual for the job.

Once you’ve made your hiring choice, let the other employees who applied know quickly and diplomatically the opening is closed. Provide constructive feedback and the tools necessary to help them grow and see success in the future.

Have a Proper Process

The first step in internal hiring is deciding if you want to recruit internally for a position. Depending on your goals for the role, some jobs may be better suited for external candidates.

An example would be if you’re wanting to fill a marketing manager role. While you could hire an employee with an interest in marketing, you might be better served by hiring someone externally who already has a background in marketing and the traits necessary to succeed.  

Create an internal hiring policy to help prevent conflicts from happening and clarify the rules and expectations for your team.

Once you have a role that you want to fill internally, clearly define the experience, skills and contributions that are required to be successful in the position. List eligibility rules such as tenure or certifications necessary to avoid upsetting employees when they are not considered. Then you can work with your leadership team to identify people in your workforce that are qualified and interested in this job.

Communicate new openings that you are recruiting internally for early and often. Encourage your team members to apply or speak to their supervisors about the job opening. Send out emails, list the openings on company bulletin boards and through other channels you use the spread the news.

Once the application deadline has closed, treat the internal candidates like you would external candidates. Focus on how they’d perform in the role, not how you feel about them personally. This is especially important if you have this job open to external applicants as well.

After screening all of your internal candidates thoroughly, make sure you conduct fair interviews. To avoid accusations of bias or favoritism, involve multiple stakeholders or even outside experts to select the best candidate for the job.

When you’ve made your selection, communicate to the other candidates they were not chosen and why. Giving them areas to improve on and ways to further develop their skills to help them see there are still opportunities for them at your organization. You can also discuss other roles with them that may be a better fit for their abilities.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.