How to Promote Without Setting Employees Up to Fail – Part 2

Promoting internally has its advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that internal promotions reward deserving employees and provide continuity of performance. However, one the disadvantage is that poor choices can set employees up to fail.

Part 1 of this two-part series discussed two failures that can lead to big problems:

  • A lack of performance from the promoted employee; and
  • Realizing too late that the employee is not a good fit for her new role.

Understand that failure is not inevitable. There are key strategies management can employ to successfully promote without setting employees up to fail.

1. Prepare for the New Role

The first strategy requires abandoning the idea that a promoted employee will grow into her new role. If he’s not ready for the role when he’s promoted, the chances of him growing into it aren’t good. Instead, look forward. Anticipate the future and begin preparing for his promotion now by answering the following questions:

  • What training would be helpful for the new role?
  • Does the employee already have the necessary educational and technical qualifications?
  • What feedback for improvement have you received from predecessors in that role? Has the role been modified to reflect that feedback?

If promoted to a supervisory or management role:

  • Is the employee capable of managing himself?
  • Does he know what it means to be an effective leader?
  • Is the success of your business his aim?
  • Does he own his actions?

2. Clearly Define the New Role

Promotions are more than just labels. So, before you promote, clearly define the role that you intend to fill. A clear definition forces you to understand what type of employee you need. Be clear about the knowledge, skills, and abilities.  This snapshot of an ideal candidate lets interested employees know whether they are truly up to the task.

3. Embrace Feedback

Oftentimes, a lack of performance in a new role is the result of limited feedback. Management doesn’t provide performance feedback. The employee doesn’t provide feedback on his day-to-day activities. This lack of communication prevents challenges from being successfully addressed. The solution is to make feedback a priority.

Bottom Line

It is entirely possible to successfully promote from within. However, it doesn’t happen by accident. Successful internal promotions are the result of realistic expectations, proactive thinking, and real-time collaboration. If any one of these pieces is missing, you may be setting your employee up to fail.