Promote from Within

June 10, 2013

There is nothing like tuning into a dark, sardonic drama about characters whose moral compasses does not point north after 48 hours of near constant rain. Having watched the Miami Heat reassert their dominance last night on the Spurs, I turned on the late showing of Mad Men to see how the episode might tie into this week’s business theme; promote within. Trying to make the connection is a stretch so suffice to say, deconstructing the episode won’t be done in the context of that larger theme. If you didn’t catch the episode however, you should. Spoiler alert… Sally discovers what we’ve known since season one about Don Draper and once again, we see real vulnerability in the strong veneer of Draper as he hurts the most innocent of all the women in his life.

Mad Men isn’t always over the top. Ted had an all too familiar discussion with his wife about work life balance and her perception that he preferred to spend his time working and was more excited about competing in the office with Don than family dinner. Pete Campbell continues his decline in the aftermath of his separation with Rudy and his diminishing client base. A lack of communication at SC&P also lead to unnecessary time and expense spent landing competing clients. Nobody is reading Ted’s too frequently written memos.

So regarding this week’s theme; promote from within. In my experience it is preferred to promote your own people into roles of greater responsibility and impact. The benefits are obvious. Your employees see that talent and hard work are rewarded and feel more buy-in to your mission. You are less likely to have turnover and have mitigated your risk of a bad hire because you already have experience working with these people. This does not guarantee however that success in a role translates into success in another, especially where the goal changes from individual performance to that of procuring performance from others. It is not always possible to promote from within, especially as businesses change and the people who got you where you are may not have the experience to get you where you need to be. Bringing in someone from the outside might be the only best option. As we have seen on Mad Men, the politics and chemistry of an organization can become toxic if roles are ambiguous and personalities don’t gel.