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Why your stores need to promote from within


I often get asked. What’s the best method of recruiting top talent? My answer is the same every time: before looking for stars outside your store, consider the people on your floor right now.

To really understand why you should promote from within, think of your staff  as an investment rather than a cost. When you hire from within you save by not having to look for, interview and train new staff. You also retain intellectual capital (i.e. the experience of your employees) and compound the investment you’ve already made in hiring and training a staff person.

Yet I continually hear excuses. Dave in produce and Meg in bakery work hard, yes. But they don’t have the right experience and skills. OK, fine. But think about the decision you are making: you could have promoted a proven employee who is familiar with your company and customers and has thrived in your culture. But instead you’re going to hire someone who may interview well but doesn’t know your store. He may not even get along with your team. And don’t make excuses that Dave or Meg have “a few flaws.” Everyone does–including the person you hire from outside your company.

In my experience, it just makes good business sense to invest your time and money in developing a proven commodity rather than an unproven one. Research shows that a wrong hire can cost you anywhere from three to five times the person’s annual salary or wage. And consider this: according to Recruiting Roundtable, more than 30% of hiring managers and close to 25% of new hires second-guess their decision. It only reaffrms that the odds of choosing the right external candidate are low compared to recruiting in-house.

There’s one more thing you need to know about recruiting internally. It doesn’t just happen. You need to develop your employees so they are ready to take on bigger and better jobs in your store. In other words, you need to develop your talent pool.  I suggest you start with these four steps:

1. Identify the core performance criteria important to the success of the store and, in particular, each department within the company. Then identify employees and work units that meet, exceed or fall below the performance criteria.

2. Develop profiles of individuals and groups as a means of assessing an internal employee’s potential for advancement opportunities. Identify events (training courses, job rotation, special assignments, on-the-job training, mentoring, etc.) that support and build these competencies.

3. Create training plans based on your criteria and events to churn out consistently competent and qualifed employees who are ready to move up the hierarchy. Defined training plans also show employees how they can gain new job skills so they can prepare for advancement within your company.

4. Train management how to identify high performers using the core performance criteria I mentioned in Step 1. And teach them how to e ffectively administer a training plan. Visit the Canadian Grocery HR Council website for help ( As you know, employees are your most important investment. And like any other investment, you want them to grow.

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