Promotion Problems

September 8, 2010 - Mac Lake - Leadership Development

When you promote someone to a new position you have high expectations for the results they’ll produce.  But it doesn’t always work out the way you anticipated.  Sometimes they flounder, make major mistakes and fail to live up to your expectations.  If these performance problems aren’t dealt with things could go from bad to worse.  To help them turn things around will require appropriate diagnosis and coaching.

In the Leadership Pipeline, Ram Charan gives a great insight that can be used to diagnose performance problems of a newly promoted employee. He points out when someone is promoted to the next level of the leadership pipeline of your organization they have to learn three things: New skills, new values and new ways to use time. Our awareness of these adjustments can go a long way in diagnosing performance problems.

  1. New Skills – The skills that brought success at one level may not be the necessary skills to succeed at a higher level.  For example someone who has been leading themselves and producing results may be good at goal setting, establishing personal priorities or stewardship.  But when they’re promoted to a position of leading others they have to learn how to manage other people’s goals, get the team to work together for results and establish the department budget.  Moving from leading yourself to leading others requires a totally different skill set and way of thinking.   Diagnostic Question:  What 3-5 skills are necessary at this new level of leadership that weren’t necessary in their former level?
  2. New Values –  While the values of the organization will be a constant, the behavioral values of positions within the organization change at different levels.  For example someone who has been leading a department will likely value teamwork, communication and accountability.  But when they’re promoted to an executive level their values shift to include things like organizational alignment, corporate morale and forecasting the future.   Diagnostic Question: :  What are the top three behavioral values in their new position?
  3. New ways to use time –  In most cases people, no matter what level they’re at in the organization, are expected to work the typical 40 hour week.  However the way their time is distributed is dependent on their level responsibility within the organization.  For example when someone is leading themselves they spend their time completing specific tasks, usually things that move projects forward.  But when they move to a position where they’re leading others they must spend their time managing the performance of others, things that move people toward results.  Diagnostic Question: : What ways do they need to adjust their schedule to fit their new level of responsibilities?

So if a newly promoted employee is struggling, have a candid conversation around these three areas to see if you can accurately diagnose the problem and coach them toward improved performance.

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Mac Lake


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