Career Success

Everwise Answers: Navigating an External Hire

By EverwiseJune 1, 2015

On the Everwise Answers forum, our community of experienced mentors give advice on the sorts of business cases, dilemmas and questions that our high-potential protégés frequently encounter. These are expert opinions. For more business best practices delivered right to your inbox, sign up here.

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Question: You’ve hired an outsider to be a senior team member instead of promoting from within and now your coworkers are resentful. Although you’re confident with your decision, how can you get your team back on track?

Daniel recently hired someone from outside of the company to fill an upper level position on his team, rather than promote internally. Even though he believes he made the best choice, his colleagues are resentful of his decision. He’s thinking about holding a team meeting to address the issue, but isn’t sure what to say. What are some ways he can eliminate the tension without being apologetic for his decision?

Here’s a summary of our mentors’ best advice from the discussion on the Everwise Answers forum.

1. Reevaluate the Decision Making Process

Even though Daniel believes his final choice was good, he should think about the process he went through to reach that decision and how he did and didn’t include his team. Did they get to give input? Were they involved in the process?

As Wendy Williamson, health plan administrator, points out “It appears Daniel did not have a discussion with the current employees before making the hiring decision which would have alleviated some if not all of the current employees ‘feelings.’” By not including them in the process, Daniel blocked avenues of communication, shook their loyalty, and missed a chance to bond with his colleagues.

“The opportunity to apply and to get honest feedback for internal candidates is a part of growth and development for his team. The fact that there is underlying resentment, no one seems to be communicating well either direction, indicates that communication, transparency (and possibly trust) is an area of opportunity for all,” outlines HR expert Connie Wedel.

His team may also feel the way they do because they were passed over for the promotion. “Usually when there is resentment around this type of decision it stems from lack of understanding about either what it takes to get promoted or where individuals stand with regards to their own career progression,” suggests healthcare sales professional LeeAnne Berlinsky.

Being aware of these repercussions will help Daniel be better prepared for dealing with his team now and for creating an improved process next time he’s looking to promote someone.

2. Meet with the Team

Many mentors agreed that Daniel should hold a meeting with his teammates, particularly more senior staff that were potential candidates for the promotion. “I would endorse, as so many others have, that you hold a meeting of your senior staff and field their questions and concerns,” advises finance expert Carol B. Teasley.

Not only should Daniel acknowledge their concerns, but he should also show how much he respects their work. As management coach Himanshi Patel says, “Daniel should find a way to communicate that he appreciates their work, talents, and the contributions they are making to the company’s success, as well as how much he values having them in the team.”

Several mentors suggested that Daniel address the issue one-on-one, rather than in a group meeting. This method could help prevent it from becoming an even bigger issue and will also allow him to directly tackle individual concerns.

As Shaun Donnelly, strategic partnership specialist, explains, “He should really only address this in a group meeting if he feels it requires that level of attention. It is probably best handled in 1:1 sessions so he can gain consensus on the hire without creating a greater issue than actually exists and allow him to address each person’s concerns individually.”

3. Explain the Choice

While meeting with team members, Daniel should explain how he came to the decision to hire outside the company and why he believes the new person is the best fit for the position, as well as addressing any potential shortcomings in the process and how he to improve it for next time.

“I would emphasize what problems you are solving, what the new hire brings to the table, and what new opportunities this creates. Although you want to show confidence in your decision and in your new hire, you also want to be transparent in your thinking and acknowledge any short comings in how you made the determination that going outside was the right thing to do and how you communicated that,” advises information technology expert Bill Bonney.

This is a great opportunity for Daniel to get everyone on the same page and excited by showing the team how the new hire makes sense for the company.

Daniel could even back up his decision by turning to examples of outside hires that have contributed to a company’s success, either from within his own company or based on other companies. As project manager James Oni suggests, “he should try to make reference to any historical records that might justify his actions.”

4. Prepare to Welcome the Hire

Daniel should discuss how the team should welcome the new teammate. As LeeAnn Berlinsky says, “He needs to set expectations for people regarding teamwork and on-boarding of the new employee. He doesn’t want the new person to feel this tension and as the group leader he must be clear regarding what is acceptable and expected versus what won’t be tolerated.”

5. Set Expectations for the Promotion Process

Daniel also needs to address the expectations of his team members regarding promotions and ensure that they know the best ways to advance their careers.

“Share how you plan to help them for future progression. What are your expectations? How can they reach that level of expectation? What are the gaps and how can these gaps be closed? How will you support their growth and development?” outlines HR & talent manager Esther Chia.

Giving ways for people to progress will show that even though Daniel hired outside the company, he is committed to the success of the current employees.

6. Boost Morale

Daniel could also look at this situation as a way to give his team a push. As HR expert Shalabh Agrawal says, “he can use this opportunity to in-fact motivate and encourage his colleagues to strive harder to build their competencies to avoid such decisions in the future.”

Daniel needs to make sure that he has a strong team to go support his new senior manager. “Empowering your current staff keeps the company as a unit growing,” explains radio marketing consultant Randy Holt.

By going through this experience together, Daniel’s team actually has a chance to come out the other side with renewed faith in him. “Hopefully trust will be built in the organizational meeting. Without trust, the problem will only get worse,” warns leadership coach Robert Cox.

Even though Daniel believes he made a good decision to hire outside, it will be a tough success if he doesn’t have the team behind him and the new hire, which is why he needs to….

7. Trust the New Hire

He brought on the new senior member because he thought they were the best person for the job and qualified to help lead, so he should put some faith in them.

Mechanical engineer Donald Dagen suggests that Daniel “have the new hire win them over. I think that effort can’t come from Daniel, it has to be an outreach from the new hire. However, Daniel should use every chance to back up the new hire and make it clear of the commitment he has.”

Letting the new hire take the lead will lend weight to Daniel’s decision and is one way to show his support and commitment to the new person.

Resources

Thanks to the Everwise mentors for their ideas, and to all the others who shared their recommendations on the forum.

The Mentors

Thanks to the Everwise mentors for their ideas, and to all the others who shared their recommendations on the forum.

  • Wendy Williamson (North Carolina) owner of The Williamson Group, LLC, expert health plan administrator
  • Connie Wedel (California) VP of Human Relations at Argen Corporation, expert in attracting, developing and retaining employees
  • LeeAnne Berlinsky (South Carolina) Senior Sales Director of Oncology at Eli Lilly and Company, expert in health care administration and leadership
  • Carol B. Teasley (New York) Owner and Director of Financial Project Implementation Skills for Local Schools, expert in financial services and consulting
  • Himanshi Patel (Massachusetts) Executive Management Consultant & Advisor, expert in management coaching and leadership
  • Shaun Donnelly (California) Senior VP of sales and business development at Support.com, expert in strategic partnerships and telecommunications
  • Bill Bonney (California) Information Security Consultant, expert in information technology, security and privacy
  • James Oni (Canada) Director of oil and gas markets at IGES Canada Ltd, expert in program and project management
  • Esther Chia (Malaysia) Chief Corporate Officer at Six Capital Pte Ltd, expert in human resources, talent management and acquisition
  • Shalabh Agrawal (India) Director of Business Excellence at Neo Corp International Ltd, expert in human resource and organizational management
  • Randy Holt (Pennsylvania) Radio Marketing Consultant at Entercom, expert in sales, marketing and advertising
  • Robert Cox (Pennsylvania) Counselor at SCORE, expert in coaching and leadership development
  • Donald Dagen (Pennsylvania) Mechanical Partner at Product Research Associates, expert in education, manufacturing and business development within automation, servos, robotics and industrial vision solutions
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About the Author

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