Hire New or Develop Existing? A Leadership Dilemma


The Senior Manager says: “What if we train and develop our people, and then they leave us?”

The CEO says: “What if we don’t train them, and they stay?

No doubt you have seen this meme circulating around in recent years. It’s true though. It’s also very insightful. Think about the mindset of an organization that is reluctant to develop their workers for fear that those workers will leave. As a worker, would you really want to work there? And then think about the organizations that want to train up their workers so that those workers have the ability to conquer anything. Do you think those workers would really want to leave?

Some senior managers don’t believe that they have the right people for the job. This is often because the worker doesn’t have the best work performance. The question I often ask is “Why are they are not performing well?” I cannot tell you how often it ends up that the worker just wasn’t sufficiently training. Or at the very least, not training in the way that the worker best receives the information. What if we could refocus?

Large organizations spend a lot of money attempting to identify the key competencies for superior work performance. The attempt is geared toward finding the “gaps” in their workforce and rectifying identified challenges. This helps the smarter organizations focus resources on things such as incentives, coaching, and training programs.

Basically, it’s all about helping the workers refine and progress in the certain necessary competencies required for the job or their industry. Of course, it also helps with identifying proper candidates for open positions. Employee development is benefited by such identifications but recruitment would benefit substantially as well if the organization could pinpoint the key competencies needed.

develop leaders

Recruitment may not be necessary though. Competencies can be learned and there is a good chance that the organization already has people with the ability to learn the necessary competencies within their ranks. Proper and un-biased evaluations are always recommended. I say this because I often see good people being overlooked due to poor performance, even though they were placed into a position that did not align well for them in the first place or when the necessary tasks were not properly conveyed or trained on. This is probably a good time to remind everyone that good people leave bad companies, bad managers and because of a lack of personal development. Don’t be on that list!

Competencies are the ability to do something successfully or efficiently. We must remember that different people are geared differently but that proper training and development are always necessary. Efficiency and proficiency usually take developed skills, knowledge, and talent. However, these can be relative in nature and as leaders, we need to keep this in mind. This is especially true when we consider the individual task at hand and any training that we are going to send our workers to.

Substantial problems can arise when the organization doesn’t know exactly what they need or when they don’t know how to properly develop the people they already have. This is usually when a leadership development practitioner can come in handy but knowing what you need ahead of time is critical. Now, IF the necessary competencies have been identified and IF the organization cannot find the individuals that can successfully develop the necessary attributes, recruitment might be necessary.

Just remember that in light of the fact that skills can be improved, knowledge can be gained, and given talents can usually be developed, perhaps the initial selection of employees should come by deciding if the potential employee is competent, capable, and a person of good character in the first place. Perhaps what they have done already is not as important as their ability to learn. Selecting these types of candidates (instead of by accolade, pedigree, etc) might save the organization a bunch of time and money in the long-run.

Just a thought.

Interested in learning more? Be sure to check out my article titled “Leadership Development Strategies.