Usually managers are excited to promote someone in whom they see great potential and whose excellent work they want to reward. In this excitement, managers often express how much they believe in the team member and share all of the upsides and opportunities to be gained in the new role.
Yet many of these promotions don’t go as hoped – especially when someone is being asked to step into a management or leadership role.
While many managers know the “Peter Principle” and are cautious about promoting someone beyond their capacity, there are two additional precautionary considerations to make a promotion successful:
- Make sure to also share the challenges of the new role and share what will be lost in going from the old position to the new position. Perhaps the team member won’t have as much face-to-face time with clients or as much freedom with their schedule. If the transition is to a management position, the team member may struggle to maintain easy peer-to-peer interactions.
- Ask rather than assume. Ask your potential promotee if they would like the new role. I know this sounds simple, but I just had an employee tell me, “I felt like I couldn’t say no – that I didn’t really have a choice. They needed someone in the position and my manager was so excited for me, I didn’t want to let them down.”
While giving someone a promotion is one of the highlights of management, a promotion has to be received by the employee. Self-determination is key here. Once you’ve chosen it for them, they then have to have a chance to choose it for themselves. This choice can only be made when they can grasp a sense of both the challenges and responsibilities of the role. So before your promotee steps into the spotlight, make sure they really want to be there.
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