You’ve done a great job, and we’re promoting you to a managerial position.

Really! If you adopt this approach don’t be surprised if it ends badly. Despite there being a widespread prevalence to apply this quick fix don’t let us kid ourselves that it is likely to yield good results.

I accept that recognising and rewarding people who have outperformed is important. What concerns me is that there is an assumption that people will make good managers because they have demonstrated outstanding skills, technical prowess or excelled in other ways.

Download a copy of the case study – A Promotion That Went Wrong

Even when appropriate training and development is provided this approach is likely to fail because:
a. The individual may not have the necessary personal characteristics to perform the required role to the required standard.
b. The person concerned may not wish to become a manager.

Okay, you might get lucky, but more likely than not it will result in losing a good operative and gaining a poor manager. At best, this can result in trying to undo the bad decision and, at worst, the outcome can be disastrous. It can really screw up a person who never wanted to be a manager. Furthermore, the collateral damage to those under the hapless manager can have wide and enduring adverse implications.

So, what are the alternatives for recognising and rewarding high performing individuals? There are several approaches you might consider but one I have encouraged organisations to adopt, with good results, is to elevate these people to a mentoring role. This will allow them to do what they do well and help others to replicate their accomplishments. Something that justifies a salary increase on a par with that of a manager.

By adopting this approach, you can then get serious about ensuring people with the right personal characteristics are selected to become managers and provide them with the necessary training and tools to do the job well.

If you would like to learn about how I helped a major international engineering company address this issue, please download my A Promotion That Went Wrong case study.
Barrie Watson – January 2024