Founder HR Hardball, author, speaker, and strategic advisor to Executives with a vision. Doer, builder, shamelessly honest.
I'm working directly with the SVP of Operations of my company & based on that I would HIGHLY value a few "off the radar" behaviors; the ability to quickly adapt to change, continuous learning, strong implementation skills, and the ability to identify/develop talent.
You're welcome to contact me for more detail - not knowing the experience of your internal candidate, hard to answer that part of the question.
Please resist the urge to pull the band-aid. I'm not a fan of keeping a poor performer, but unless this person is a behavioral or "for cause" termination, he deserves some professionalism here. 30-day Performance Plan, make the goals aggressive and stick to it - he can consider that his head start to either buck up or start searching.
Remember, your other employees watch how you treat their former colleagues. A quick termination before a holiday is prickish, an aggressive performance plan is taking care of business.