Viewpoint: An Age-Old Hiring Practice Deserves Another Look

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The recent job market chaos has just about every manager in the industry examining hiring practices and looking for new solutions.

One age-old practice probably deserves another look and some intentionality to implement best practices: promoting or hiring from within.

Internal promotion and professional development have been key to the health of Cutter Aviation, the oldest privately held FBO and management company in general aviation, says Will Cutterm its president.

As he has guided the company in several industry awards, nearly 5X revenue growth and a corresponding increase in employees over the last 20 years, one key management strategy has been to encourage every employee to be on the lookout for who can be trained to take their position.

Turns out, there are some lessons to be learned from the practice:

1. A promotion-from-within policy enhances recruitment.

Younger workers especially want to know a potential career path when they start a job. Being able to communicate the possibilities for short- and long-term advancement benefits new hires and sets the stage for managers to be invested in the growth of their direct reports. This creates a sense of being valued and invested in, something employees talk about after-hours and celebrate on social media.

2. Promotion from within reduces costs and shortens the hiring cycle.

Creating a job description, posting to job boards, filtering resumes, setting up interviews (is anyone else noticing people not showing up to their online interviews?), and checking references is exhausting and can take months. With a previous company track record, several of these steps can be shortened with internal promotions.

3. Promotion from within improves loyalty and retention.

When workers see their colleagues being given promotional opportunities, they are inspired to work harder and aim for growth within the company. The result is a reduction in employee turnover, which saves businesses a lot of time, money and emotional effort. Employees stay with the company longer, become more invested in the success of the company and are motivated to contribute to the company’s growth.

4. Promotion from within increases productivity. Investing in your employees’ leadership skills can have a tangible impact on your company’s bottom line.

By developing existing employees into strong leaders, you not only harness their potential to lead teams more effectively but also increase productivity levels across all departments. These skilled leaders can inspire their colleagues to work collaboratively, streamline processes, and optimize resources – all factors that contribute to a more efficient and productive workplace.

5. Promotion from within fosters mentorship and professional growth.

Regular check-ins on progress toward a particular career path give meaning to performance reviews and growth plans.

A train-your-replacement-so-you-can-grow philosophy, like that at Cutter Aviation, builds in natural mentorship and motivates leaders to look for ways to develop their own cadre of professional tools.

Complacency is no friend to growing and scaling a company. Strong communication is key to avoiding the pitfalls of hiring or promoting from within. Clear job descriptions with both responsibilities and expected skills and attitudes help serve as a guide for hiring—and for gap analysis for workers who are already in the role and those wanting to be.

A good checklist allows for candid conversations with employees who want to be coached and a strong argument against promotion for those who refuse to grow. If there’s an obvious best candidate for promotion, use caution in posting the advancement opportunity internally. Setting the stage correctly when inviting people to apply avoids (or at least mitigates) hurt feelings and subsequent disengagement from employees who were not promoted.

This happened recently to a colleague at Delta Air Lines, who was asked to apply for a stretch position by one of her champions on the executive team. He encouraged her to “put her name in the hat” to be considered for this position—and if she didn’t get offered the job or decide to accept it, she would at least be signaling to other executives she was interested in advancement. He also let her know it wasn’t his decision—he wasn’t even on the review committee.

Finally, positive reinforcement of good qualities and recognition of extra effort always goes a long way in building morale. Communicating broadly about why a certain person was promoted goes a long way toward creating good copycats.

Rene Banglesdorf is the founder and CEO of The Aviation Collective. She helps aviation companies hire and retain the best talent through executive coaching and workplace culture consulting. Banglesdorf served on the U.S. Congress-chartered and FAA-appointed Women in Aviation Advisory Board, is a 20-year aviation professional and holds a private pilot license.