Internal Recruitment: Choosing the Right Person to Lead

Internal Recruitment: Choosing the Right Person to Lead

So you have a team that is vital to the success of your business, in this example we will say that they are a sales team, but it could be any team who deals with tickets (tech support, customer service, etc.). This team has fifteen members and has an average tenure of 1 year. 

You, being the forward-thinking business leader that you are, have identified the team’s manager as a top talent and plan to promote them accordingly to a higher role; recognising their excellent work in driving team performance and establishing a positive workplace culture within their team.


Here comes the tricky part: who will take on leadership of the sales team once their manager has moved on?

Many companies only take a cursory glance at the employees they already have before casting out into the open market for an external hire. 

This may seem like a sensible option as external hires generally have better indicators of qualification and experience. They can also bring a valuable new perspective to your business. 

The flip side of external recruitment is that only 25% of external recruits last longer than two years in their new company. They also perform worse than internal hires for the first year as they must adapt to new work processes, colleagues, and systems.


What is Talent Prospecting’s advice in this scenario?

Know thyself before looking externally.

I do not mean this in the exact way that the white-bearded Athenian philosopher did, I mean companies should never discount that chance that they may already have the perfect candidate within their organisation. 

If they do, then they will save on average about 18% per year in salary should they promote from within. Plus you will also save on onboarding and recruiting costs.

Furthermore, promoting from within fosters company loyalty.


So how to choose a candidate from this sales team?

Not so SMART

The individuals in your sales team are already metriced in a specific and measurable way, in this case (for simplicity) it is the number of tickets closed per week. 

You may also have data gleaned from a yearly performance review but I would not rely to heavily on this as, to quote Marcus Buckingham of the Harvard Business Review:

“360-degree surveys are, at best, a waste of everyone’s time, and at worst actively damaging to both the individual and the organisation”. 

What many companies will do in this scenario is to promote a manager from their top performers on the team. If Tom is your top sales agent then it is surely logical that he should be first in line for promotion to manager, one would think. One, in this instance, would be wrong. Closing the highest number of sales tickets proves only one thing; that Tom is great at sales and closes the most tickets on the team. 

The characteristics that make Tom a maestro at selling include extraversion, refusal to take no for an answer, and unwavering confidence in his own ability are by no means the traits one would look for in a top manager. 

The problem is that the above talents, combined with Tom’s outspoken nature and excellent metrics, will make Tom seem like an ideal candidate in an interview.


This is where Talent Prospecting comes in. We help companies look beyond the measurable data, giving them the best possible opportunity to find the perfect candidate for promotion.


One of the cornerstones of our approach is based on the fact that nobody knows more about an employee than the teammates who work alongside them, day in, day out. 

Using our positive peer-recognition methodology, your company will have far more rounded information as to who would be the best leader from among your team. 

While Tom might seem like the top candidate, he may be solely focused on closing the most tickets in a month and thus achieving his full bonus. He regularly argues with colleagues because of his uncompromising communication style. 

Lucy, his colleague, may close only 85% of the tickets that Tom does per month, but, using Talent Prospecting’s (TP) methodology, will be identified as the best candidate for promotion.

We come to this rational by taking a picture of your team from a different perspective; that of the team members themselves. 

While Tom may have the best measurable sales performance, Lucy spends a large amount of her time helping colleagues solve difficult issues. She is humble and cares deeply about her teammates, sacrificing her own performance to aid the team in general and uplift her colleagues.

Lucy is a positive person, who takes joy in building relationships and uplifting those on the team. She is high in conscientiousness and empathy and cares deeply about helping others. She is also rather introverted, but is adept at fostering connections as she is an exceptional listener

She detests interviews as they require her to brag about her achievements, something she does not feel comfortable with. This is not unusual as women are far less likely to engage in self-promotion than men.

In far too many cases Tom, who is brash and revels in the chance to speak about himself, aces the interview and is chosen for promotion. This is so often the case as it is extremely difficult to decipher confidence from competence at the interview phase. 

Lucy, on the other hand, performs well in the interview, but shares the credit for her work related accomplishments with her colleagues. This practice of sharing credit for achievements is again proven to be more common in women than men and can sometimes lead to interviewers overlooking excellent candidates.

In this case, had Talent Prospecting been engaged beforehand, the interviewers could have been provided with the knowledge that Lucy, according to her teammates, is a fantastic communicator who actively improves the performance of all her colleagues through her daily altruistic endeavours. Her behaviour is reciprocated by her colleagues who recognise her humility and eagerness to develop bonds with them.

Tom, who cares only for achieving his monthly sales bonus, is aloof and never engages with colleagues unless it benefits himself. 

Armed with this knowledge, the playing field is levelled and the hiring manager has a better chance of choosing the perfect candidate for promotion.

Lucy is likely chosen, and her teammates, who spoke so highly of her during the Talent Prospecting survey, see that they have some agency in the decision making process within the company. Furthermore, the company has promoted a behaviour role model, i.e. someone who personifies their values.

More importantly, they are shown that the path to success in this company is not only achieving high metrics, but helping others and being a great teammate. 



I understand this example is a little generic, but it is one that is played out over and over in the business world. The loudest voices on a team get recognised and promoted as companies routinely mistake confidence for competence.

Engaging the services of Talent Prospecting may not be a panacea for the culture in your company, but it has been proven to be an effective tool in discovering top talents and leaders in organisations, regardless of an employee's gender, race or personality types.

Talent Prospecting guides you to the best strategies when it comes to uncovering hidden gems, allowing organisations to establish a robust succession planning framework. 

By identifying high-potential employees and providing them with growth opportunities, organisations can cultivate a pipeline of capable leaders.

This proactive approach to talent management reduces the risk associated with sudden leadership vacancies and ensures a smooth transition of leadership roles. According to a report by Deloitte, organisations with effective succession planning are 2.2 times more likely to outperform those with ineffective succession planning.

The business world has seen more than its fair share of ‘Toms’. 

At the end of the day, companies retain their talent because employees have a manager who inspires, motivates, and most importantly- cares about them.

It’s high time we stop punishing humble employees for their reluctance to ‘sell themselves’. 

Great employees are simply too precious to overlook and it is vital we work together to put processes in place where everyone can be valued for their work, rather than how loudly they blow their own trumpet.


Conall Horgan

At Talent Prospecting, we are experts in helping organisations identify, reward and retain their top talents. If you are interested in partnering with us, please visit our website and book a free consultation

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