This scenario has happened to every boss: you promoted into a leadership position a great employee who was motivated and performed well in his last position. However, within a few months, he is not meeting your performance expectations. As a result, you are considering demoting or terminating him. What went wrong?
All too often, the wrong people are promoted for the wrong reasons. Although an individual was a great sales person or individual performer, he may lack the professional abilities and expertise to be a great manager or team leader. Typically, there are two types of internal promotion candidates for any position. First are the people who have the desire and ability to be successfully trained. The second are the people who are technically competent in their fields, but don’t possess the skills needed to be promoted into a leadership position.
Reducing promotion failures isn’t rocket science, but it does take some time, effort and planning by upper management. It is best to only promote individuals who have shown they have the people skills, job knowledge, technical skills and ability to be successful. Each of these factors can be quantified and measured if the organization has taken the time to ensure that the proper processes and employee development structures are in place. The following are important aspects that lead to either job successes or failures:
Individual characteristics: Often a more difficult area to assess, but in almost every case, it is the most critical area when it comes to successes or failures. This area deals with characteristics such as thinking style, verbal reasoning, numerical ability and reasoning and behavioral characteristics such as assertiveness, manageability, decisiveness and independence. It also assesses the individual’s occupational interests, which are factors such as people service, technical, mechanical or financial and administrative interests.
People skills: Some employees don’t communicate effectively, cannot comprehend their peoples’ needs and often just aren’t capable of creating the type of team or environment that promotes productivity, effectiveness and team cohesion.
Job knowledge: It is difficult to form team unity when the leaders don’t have personal confidence in their ability to do the job. Ensure your team managers are educated in their positions.
Technical skill: In today’s competitive work environment, it is important that leaders have the technical competence needed to help their people or teams with technical challenges.
Awareness of these factors can improve an organization’s ability to be successful in making good promotion decisions. However, it doesn’t help the organization deal with highly skilled technical employees who just don’t have the people skills or necessary individual characteristics. They push for promotions, not because they want to be in a leadership position, but because they are topped out in their salary range and want a higher income. Promotions for these people are often a sure-fire mistake. A way to ensure their continued employment is to create a two-tier salary system, one for a leadership track and one for a technical track.
To decipher if this problem exists within your organization, review your employee promotion history. How many of the promotions into leadership positions have gotten the desired results? How many were the reasons for those shortcomings identified in this article?