Why a manager would not hire the one who is most qualified? Here's one reason





The CSTD  Toronto Chapter runs a breakfast networking event regularly. It’s a good opportunity to meet the upcoming L&D leaders in the industry and a good time to reconnect with my contemporaries. At this month’s get together, I got to chat with someone I’ve met in the past who is a first time manager. As we were catching up she mentioned she hired someone and I said, how was the process for her looking at it from the manager’s perspective. What she said surprised me.

I didn’t hire the most qualified one but instead hired the one next in line because then I have someone I could coach. I need to look good to my boss, right? So I thought it would be great to support someone in their career progression and in the process I will look good too.

For my colleagues who have been in the business as long as I have, I can guess what you would have said, which would most likely be similar to what I would have said starting with “What did you just say?” BUT I wanted to learn more so instead I asked “Tell me more how this would be a good idea for your organization.”

Since this was a networking event with about 20 people, I was cut short and didn’t get to hear the response. Ugh!

Have you heard this before? In your heart of hearts, have you done this yourself? Hire someone who would not outshine you – even take over your role – so you hire someone who is less than stellar so you would look good? This seems different from hiring someone underqualified but have previous success or someone who is overqualified.

For those who have been my direct reports in the past know very well that I would always say “I hired you so you can be my boss in the future.” I hire the best. I step aside when they are ready to soar. I am there to be their guide not their barrier. But I am a bit shocked that others are quite so afraid of doing this. Is it because their ego? Is it because they are insecure? Is it because they are afraid of facing their own possible deficiencies?

Wouldn’t it be to the benefit of the organization to hire only the best? Or is that just a sound bite that hiring managers say? Post your experiences here or tweet me your thoughts on this. 

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