Don’t rush it: the pitfalls of a fast track promotion

By Robert Half 20 September 2019

Any recruitment process should be well-planned in order to find the right person for a role.

However, a hiring manager may find themselves in a situation when they need to act quickly with an unexpected hiring situation, or one that requires a fast track promotion. For example, the recent banking royal commission investigation resulted in the sudden exit of senior figures leading top businesses in Australia.

It is understandable that organisations will want to find a suitable replacement as soon as possible, however there are challenges and consequences of hiring or fast track promoting a candidate into a senior role too quickly without a proper recruitment process or succession plan in place.

When might a company need to hire quickly?

There are times when a senior figure in a company, including the CEO, has resigned from their position quickly or unexpectedly.

It could be for a number of reasons, including:

Misconduct - ethical, sexual, financial, criminal, or other misconduct has seen an increase in coverage in the media, and leaders are under scrutiny more than ever, with an increasing number of stories coming out and into the public eye. This can create pressure on executives and companies to resign that position in order to maintain a positive public image for the company

Poor performance - due to the high involvement in company strategy and responsibility to stakeholders, if it becomes evident that a leader is not suitable for the role, a hiring manager may need to fill their position in order to have someone to continue to steer the company

Personal reasons - they may have found a job opportunity with a competitor, or unexpected circumstances such as health reasons, family priorities, or death

What are the consequences of a fast track promotion?

Hiring hastily doesn’t give you the opportunity to make sure a candidate is the right fit for your organisation. This is particularly important with a senior leading position, as their responsibility can influence organisational strategy, culture, and accountability. It may also not allow the candidate sufficient time to ensure that the company is a right fit for them, which can lead to further misalignment.

Consequences of a fast track promotion done in haste can include:

Impact on existing staff
Particularly for managerial roles, a speedy promotion can impact the engagement and retention of other employees and imbalance the culture of the company.

Impact on company success
Poor hiring decisions can lead to a decrease in staff productivity, lower staff morale, poor company performance, and potentially financial and profit loss for the overall organisation. It can also be more expensive if a replacement needs to be found after a failed recruitment.

Impact on the individual hire
Someone who is good at their current role and shows potential for leadership isn’t necessarily ready for a more senior role right away. Rather it should be part of their training, development and career plan. If a candidate isn’t ready, it could lead to them feeling inadequate, unsupported, and impact their engagement, and ultimately company output.

Impact on reputation
Hiring too fast can also impact or taint company reputation. Your company could look too reactive to sudden challenges and may leave questions about how much thought you put into hiring, or even other business responsibilities.

How to ensure you don’t rush the recruitment process

There are a number of clear steps and processes that can be implemented to ensure that you recruit the right candidate for the job:

If you are promoting from within your organisation, ensure the preferred candidate:

  • Has a clear understanding of the role and its needs, along with clear performance metrics to base their actions around
  • Has the opportunity to say ‘no’ to the opportunity of the promotion
  • Is set up with a transition plan, any relevant training and consistent one-on-ones to ensure they are supported
  • Has gone through your company’s standard “checkpoints” and criteria, i.e. there is sufficient and strong reasoning for their fast track promotion at such a short notice

If you are hiring from outside of the company, ensure:

  • You have an interview process in place. Without one, firms are more likely to make a bad hire, especially if they are faced with a short turnaround time
  • The board has a succession plan in place to cover abrupt exits. This would cover things such as appointing a key person who would be responsible for driving activities required through the transition, an interim leader, and a communications plan for employees and shareholders
  • You are hiring appropriately and pay attention to the needs and principles of the role and the business
  • Once the hire has started, you assess early and often to ensure it continues to be the right decision

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