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Feb 5, 2015

There is nothing more reassuring to a job seeker than hearing that opportunity abounds in the company you are interviewing with.

It isn’t the most important aspect for everyone, but for a good majority, it is the defining factor next to compensation and other candidate bait.

There’s very little reason for candidates to doubt your claim of endless upward mobility — that is, until they get burned.

When they start a job and find out the yellow brick road to career greatness is more like quicksand; it leads to initial disappointment, but they haven’t lost hope in every employer yet. They start to search again to find another seemingly good company.

Internal practices that undermine your talent

To ensure that they don’t make the same mistake again, they ask your recruiter better questions during the interview process. They join your company with hope and promise beneath their wings, but this time, there is a new set of tricks that halt their career progression.

Now, it hits the candidate like a ton of bricks that there’s something wrong. Either they are really bad at choosing companies, or, they aren’t as great as they thought. To put it plainly, it is utterly frustrating.

At a time where retention and talent management are all the rage, you would think companies would be more intentional about looking at practices that may be undermining their efforts. Whatever your sentiment is about how employees progress in the company, you have to agree that the following practices are pretty lame and counterproductive to your talent management strategy.

1. Bogus job postings

Here we have those highly-coveted positions where you have quietly identified your candidate of choice, but decide to waste your employees’ time, energy, and emotions as they fawn over a job they have no possibility of attaining.

The worst part about this is the imposition you put both your recruiters and candidates in. Both parties know how it’s going to turn out, but instead they have to go through the motions because you want it to appear that you conducted a competitive search.

2. Sneak attack promotions

When you feel the need to confidentially promote employees followed by a celebrity-worthy press release announcing your decision, morale is going to plummet.

It doesn’t say very much about your leadership ability when you don’t think enough of your team to give them a chance to apply and interview for positions they are qualified to do.

3. Hold em’ and fold em’

Are your managers undermining your employees’ ability to transfer by creating performance issues and personality narratives that never existed?

This is typical when opportunity presents itself internally, but the manager does everything in their power to keep the employee from progressing further by sharing off-the-record performance fodder that influences the selection process.

The problem with this is the employee catches on eventually and realizes they’ve been blacklisted.

4. The relic on the shelf

Pity the poor tenured employee who has done well in becoming the go-to gal or guy in their department, but can’t seem to get any further.

So you mean to tell me that this person who has been with the company for 30-plus years, with nary a bad performance review, and happens to be fluent in the company rules, norms and culture, is suddenly not good enough for any other opportunities in the organization or even their own department? Stop the madness!

5. Give me more (more education, more experience, more skills, etc.)

I get it — you don’t have time to train and you need them up and running like yesterday. So how do more KSA’s help when you haven’t established what is absolutely essential to your operation?

In addition, why is it necessary when you have promoted and continue to promote people with no credentials?

If you’re going to ask someone to go back to school or learn more, the request needs to be consistent and operationally-warranted. Last time, I checked, Jesus Christ already has a job.

You need to strike the right balance

Here you have five scenarios where there is likely a disconnect between your intention and practice. The moral of the talent management story is this: if someone isn’t performing well, don’t promote them. However, have the decency to have a conversation about how they can fix it.

When they do fix it, don’t hold their past performance mistakes and deficits over their head indefinitely. Strike a balance between what you want and what is needed.

You may think you “need” someone with a Ph.D and the ability to read minds for that receptionist role, but does it have to be so?

For God’s sake be thankful for your tenured employees, because if not for them, many of your triumphs and financial gains would not be possible. If they aren’t trained to the standard of the current workforce, blame yourself for not investing in them and insisting that they continue to grow professionally.

Speaking of growth, stop hiding and withholding opportunity from your workers. Be transparent about present and upcoming opportunities. Allow your employees to apply for internal opportunities aligned with their backgrounds and interests.

The best case scenario is you could find out you have been missing out on some unknown strengths of your employees. The worst case is you hire the right person and your employee carries on knowing that you at least gave them a chance.

Being honest builds trust in employees

Lastly, no more bogus searches. External and internal candidates alike know when you are full of sh%&! Stop putting out external postings knowing you want a qualified internal candidate and stop posting internal positions knowing there’s a VIP in mind.

Interviewing for a job is stressful and we have all been there. There is nothing considerate about making someone go through the scrutiny that is synonymous with the interview and selection process for no reason.

Being honest about opportunity is just one more way of building rapport with your employees. It also ensures that prospective employees aren’t deterred from joining your company because you haven’t committed to a consistent and fair talent management strategy.

This was originally published on Janine Truitt’s The Aristocracy of HR blog.