How to know who’s really ready for promotion into management

Commonly cited stats estimate that about 60% of newly promoted managers fail within the first year (Ashkenas, 2015), pointing to a critical miscalculation in the decision process for selecting who is ready for “next level” management. Given these odds, decision-makers could simply flip a coin – heads, she gets a promotion; tails, she doesn’t get a promotion – and achieve a higher success rate (50%) as well as save hundreds of thousands of euros in the time spent in ineffective talent review meetings.

Leaders all too often rely on current performance and “gut feelings” when making critical decisions about who is ready for promotion into management positions. Mark may be picked over Kevin because he has great numbers and the Hiring manager thinks he’s a nice guy.  However, a single bad leader can cost a company over €1 million per year in net losses (The Ken Blanchard Companies, 2009). So the question remains: why do organizational leaders continue to promote employees based primarily on their high performance in current roles?

“I know my talent,” most executives believe. Truth is, they only know what they see – how those employees perform in the current (and past) roles they hold. Based on the potential of €1 million per year net losses, clearly bad promotion decisions can result in bad business outcomes.

Simply put, when considering which employees are ready for management positions, high performance in one role is no guarantee of high performance in the next, especially if the skills required and responsibilities and outcomes needed are vastly different. Consider, for example, an engineer and their responsibilities versus those of their line manager. The engineer has (specialist) technical knowledge for problem solving. Their line manager might also have the same (specialist) knowledge and skills but must also be a (generalist) leader, manager, influencer, planner, organiser, etc., of others. The same applies in other roles: IT technician versus an IT manager; a sales professional versus her sales director.

This promotion problem is known as the Peter Principle – when organizations continue promoting high performers upwards until they reach positions for which they no longer possess the skills or abilities to succeed (Parrish, 2015). It is a common occurrence and leads to stress for the Organisation and the newly promoted manager with the following results:

Young Leaders are drowning – At Harmonics we see this happening quite often with young millennial leaders promoted into new positions with little or no career development or leadership coaching. Mentoring isn’t happening as much as before, as mentors in the business are time poor.  So the new leader is often left isolated trying to solve new people problems they have never encountered in their careers before.

Young Leaders are leaving – These same leaders who are not succeeding at their promoted level, leaving their roles for new employers. They have been badly bruised emotionally by the experience and it takes some time to regain their confidence. They choose to leave and save face by going to a new employer doing what they used to do rather than have a career development discussion with their employer. The employer loses a great talent to the business.

However, there are objective ways to assess and support an employees’ career readiness for promotion…

Young Leaders need career coaching – The problems outlined above can be avoided by providing career development coaching before and after a promotion to greatly improve their prospects of success in the role. Our new Career Acceleration Coaching for High Potentials Programme is targeted to address this specific issue.

For more information on our suite of interventions for aspiring future Leaders (including our Career Accelerator Coaching Programme, Effective Career Conversations for Managers, Leadership Development Programme or the 5 Dysfunctions of Teams Workshop), please contact Harmonics today on 01 8942616 or email Harmonics to request more information.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.