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Head or Heart: Do You Promote from Within? Or Bring in Outside Candidates?

Dog Krazy co-owners Chris and Nancy Guinn discuss their differing opinions on how to fill higher-level positions.




I LOVE WATCHING TEAM members move up the Dog Krazy ladder. Our current area managers both started in entry-level positions, working their way from part-time receptionist and sales associate to team leader, assistant manager, manager and now their current roles. They love the company as much as I do, and seeing them grow and thrive makes me feel how I imagine a proud parent would watching their children achieve their goals and dreams.

The Problem

HEART—NANCY: When we have an opening for a higher-level position at Dog Krazy, I immediately look at our team and think, who can best learn and be a great fit for that role. Our training is extensive — it takes months to learn all of our policies and the nutrition basics as well as how to handle any and every situation that can occur in our stores.

While I know there are candidates out there with extensive backgrounds in retail management, we can teach that. What we can’t teach is the excitement in someone’s eyes when they see a new dog walk in, the feeling of accomplishment from helping a customer find the perfect diet for their pet, or the love for dogs our associates have. Is there a candidate out there who has all of this, yes. But which would happen faster? Finding and ensuring a person will fit into this company culture or teaching a known and trusted employee management skills?

HEAD—CHRIS: Nancy loves our team like they are family. She truly cares for each of them and wants to see them succeed. I do, as well, but I don’t get attached the way Nancy does. When it comes to hiring for management roles in our company, we have a difference of opinion.

We post the positions internally but also look externally for candidates with more retail management experience. While Nancy usually has a team member in mind, I prefer to hire a person with a resume that shows proven results. While I understand that learning our company culture and going through our in-house training takes a great deal of time, an outside candidate can bring diverse experiences and fresh ideas to the role. Recruiting externally also deepens the talent pool, allowing access to candidates with specialized skills or expertise not available internally at that time. And lastly, hiring from outside the company mitigates the potential conflicts or perceived favoritism that can come from promoting from within.


The Decision

HEART—NANCY: Teaching management skills is much easier than training company culture. Our current employees have the customer service skills, nutrition knowledge and desire to grow with our company, and that is not easily taught.

HEAD—CHRIS: Experience speaks volumes. Being able to manage a team and move numbers is how we thrive.

NANCY & CHRIS: We agree to disagree.

The Results

HEART—NANCY: Promoting from within has worked well for us. Many of our employees have started in entry-level positions and quickly moved up the ladder with proper training and support.

HEAD—CHRIS: We have hired from inside and outside over the years. On the rare occasion, an outside candidate does work out for our company, but that is few and far between. I am still hoping for that unicorn to show up who has all the skills we look for and the ability to learn our company culture quickly, but I know it’s like finding a needle in a haystack so in this area, Nancy usually wins.



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