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>>We persuade ourselves that our
internal candidates are actually
feckless balls of idiosyncratic weak-
nesses and that a shiny outside hire
suffers from none of those maladies.
Companies have all sorts of reasons for seeking outside talent: inadequate succession planning, a lack of
executive development or just being fortunate enough
to win an unexpected contract. But often it’s due to the
most pernicious reason of all: We persuade ourselves
that our internal candidates are actually feckless balls
of idiosyncratic weaknesses and that a shiny outside
hire suffers from none of those maladies.
This is, of course, patent nonsense. An external candidate
is not miraculously free of foibles: Companies just don’t know
what they are yet. All too often, recruiters allow themselves to
transform this ignorance into the candidate’s strength.
Here are five reasons companies should hire their
project managers from the inside:
1. They won’t need to go through a lengthy period of
learning your organization’s ways, policies and procedures—even your terminology and
2. You know them, and not the spiffed-up, just-say-anything-to-wow-you-at-the-interview version. You’ve seen
your internal candidates day in and
day out, possibly for years. You’ve
seen them handle success and failure,
on their very best days and their
absolute worst. You know their
strengths and you know their weaknesses. You will not be surprised.
3. They know you. Contrary to what you may be thinking,
you’re not always perfect, and good boss-subordinate
chemistry runs both ways. The internal candidate
knows you and your organization for what it really is
and thus won’t be wracked with disappointment and
remorse when the honeymoon period ends.
4. An internal promotion will serve as an incentive for all
your junior people. Promote the right inside candidate,
and your message is clear: You can succeed here. You
don’t have to leave to get ahead.
5. You strengthen your organizational culture and build
loyalty. There’s a reason that great firms like Procter &
Gamble hire almost totally from within. Terrific
organizations have strong cultures, and it takes time—
years, even decades—to inculcate your organizational
In Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the
Leap…and Others Don’t [HarperCollins, 2001], Jim
Collins persuasively shows that great companies rely overwhelmingly on inside hires for their top leadership positions. There’s no reason that project management should
be any different. PM
Bud Baker, PhD, is a professor of management at Wright State University, Dayton,
Ohio, USA. Please send questions for Ask PM
Network to firstname.lastname@example.org.