At The Ballyard ... with Steve Weissman

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Hires Within: Why Interviewing Internal GM Candidates Isn’t Significant

Why is it that major league baseball teams seeking new general managers are so publicly formal about interviewing internal staff for the job? In my experience in the business world, organizations looking to fill top slots don't make such a big deal about talking to the people already working there – rather, this is something that they simply do, for they recognize that promoting from within not only short-circuits the process of getting the new guy up to speed, but also lets the people already in-house know that if they work hard, they, too, will be recognized and considered for advancement.

So I had to laugh when I read that Los Angeles Dodgers announced that Kim Ng was the first person they interviewed to be the team’s next GM. Ng clearly is qualified, for she has been a VP and Assistant GM for the last four years. And should she get the job, she would be the first female GM in history. But is it really newsworthy but she was called to read for the part, or even that she was the first one called? I mean, what kind of diligence would the Dodgers be conducting if she weren't atop the list?

Wouldn't an internal candidate be the best choice going into a search process? Wouldn't such a person be better known to those doing the hiring than someone from the outside? Wouldn't such a person already understand the people, politics, and other organizational dynamics that ultimately will make or break their success? Why, then, is it such a big deal when a team talks to someone it already employs?

It's not! It's just baseball being baseball, and if anything, it’s our own fault as fans, for we are always looking for evidence that our beloved clubs are as committed to winning as we are. "Not that there's anything wrong with that!" as Seinfeld famously once said. But such announcements needn't be so momentous, and we shouldn't read too much into them. Instead, let me know when someone is actually hired: then I’ll be glad to sit up and take notice!

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