Hiring and Promoting Based on Who-knows-who Is Fraught With Error

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What’s so wrong about filling a position with someone who knows the hiring manager, someone who based on the informal grapevine appears to be a fit?

There can be quite a lot wrong, says Betsy Summers, Principal Analyst at Forrester. Summers was speaking on “Future-Fit Talent Mobility and Talent Marketplaces” at Eightfold’s recent Cultivate event.

Summers mentions the time Harvard Business Review dove into this question about using informal networks. “What they found is really, really fascinating,” Summers says. “They found that employees hired through the informal, knowing-someone process consistently underperformed versus those who were hired through a more formal process. Specifically, they found that candidates hired through internal postings outperformed on almost every dimension of quality from ramping up time to top performance to retention.”

One reason for this, Summers says, is that the informal method simply overlooks people: the hidden gems whose skills, knowledge, and potential are under-appreciated.

“Something that comes up repeatedly in the research around talent mobility is that who you know is not always a great indicator of who would do the job well.”

She suggests companies dive deep into the skills and potential of all employees. “Who are those people you don’t know? Maybe

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