Best Person, Wrong Role?

February 18, 2020by Lisa Philip

People don’t get promoted for doing their job really well; they get promoted by demonstrating their potential to do more – Tara Jaye Frank

When considering internal promotions, often the person most skilled at their current job is selected for the new job. But is this really the best way to decide who would be the best fit in the new position? Being the best at their current job is sometimes the most important factor, it is not always the best evaluation method.

Here are some items to think about when making the decision of who is best candidate:

Avoid the Peter Principle – assess for skills and abilities

The Peter Principle states “that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their level of incompetence”. That is a team member that is promoted based on their success in previous jobs and then they eventually reach a level at which they are no longer competent. What makes a team member successful in one position does not always translate to another. If a high-performing team member doesn’t have the aptitudes or skills required of them in to take on a leadership position, placing them into that position may set them up to fail.

What is the appeal for the new job? The title? The duties? Or neither?

This consideration speaks to the team member’s motivation. Some people are good at their current job and like what they are doing, and aren’t actually interested in taking on a new position with new responsibilities, but may like the allure that comes with a new title. When considering moving that team member to a new position, team members and employers should think about whether that new position will keep the team member engaged.

Leave no team member behind

Promotions are tricky and when you choose to advance a team member based on criteria beyond just current role performance, you need to be prepared to explain your reasoning. A high performer who has been passed up for a promotion may not agree with the decision, so it is important to be honest with the team member and work with them on the skills they need to develop. Find ways to nurture their potential while keeping them engaged.

It is particularly important to ensure you have the team member with the “right fit” coming into a leadership role. Sometimes the high performers will transfer seamlessly into the role, and sometimes they will not. Step back and really assess what makes your team members good at their jobs before promoting them.

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Lisa Philip