Volume XXI, Number 5 (Issue 1009) January 30, 2023
Eight Questions Chapter Two – Part 1 Performance Management
Most organizations promote their more accomplished entry level employees to the position of supervisor at the first opportunity. At least they do that if they are smart. There are many solid reasons for promoting from within including the chance to reward, recognize, and retain talent. In addition, there is the message such promotions send throughout the organization about the potential that others may have for upward mobility and career advancement. Beyond these benefits there is the hope – in many cases the unspoken expectation – the newly promoted will quickly and effectively pass on their skills and abilities to those they now manage.
Unfortunately, that expectation does not always materialize. There are multiple reasons why this is so starting with the extraordinary challenge involved in moving from peer one day to boss the next. Those who have had to make that transition know much can go wrong. For starters, the newly promoted can let their new authority go to their head. Next, not many organizations are adept at the messaging related to the promotion. Consequently, some of those most affected by the change can be among the last to know. That never goes down well. More about that later.
It is also not a given that good performers will be good teachers. Likewise, there are no assurances that a good performer will make a good supervisor. Not everyone knows how to lead. More to the point, for those who are not naturally gifted at leading, learning how to lead can take time. How much time depends heavily on the individual’s emotional intelligence, the nature of the leadership techniques (good, bad, or otherwise) that have been imprinted on them, their commitment to learn, and the scope and efficacy of the leadership development program that is available to them.
Taking all of this into consideration, there is a saying about promotions that goes something like this: a promotion signals you are good at the job you are leaving. It is not a guarantee you will be successful in your new role. Ever heard of the Peter Principle? It is alive and well. So, let’s examine some of the basic concepts when it comes to promotability.
If you look at the graphic below, you will note two axis labeled technical skills (the vertical axis) and interpersonal skills (the horizontal axis). Both range from low to high to form a Boston Box with four quadrants. For those individuals who fall into the lower lefthand quadrant (low technical and low interpersonal skills), the obvious question is “how long have they been in the role?” If they are new to the job, their tenuous grasp of the technical elements of the job might be expected. Only time and a noticeable improvement in performance will tell the tale.
For those with strong technical skills but low interpersonal skills (upper lefthand quadrant), that deficit in interpersonal skills could doom them (and their team) if promoted into a supervisory role. That is not to suggest there should not be a career path for them – only it would be a mistake to place them in a supervisory role without first working to develop their soft or power skills (read: leadership skills). But if the needed interpersonal skills continue to elude them, then the organization should find a way to leverage their technical skills in roles that do not involve supervising others.
Moving to the lower righthand quadrant (low technical but high interpersonal skills), one needs to again ask about their aptitude for learning the technical elements of the job. If those elements do not fit into their wheelhouse, then the course of action is to find a role that does align with their strengths. That leaves the upper righthand quadrant (high technical and interpersonal skills). The team members who land in this quadrant are your fast trackers or the people you want and absolutely must work to retain. They are your future if not current superstars.
In upcoming installments of Chapter Two, we will examine other aspects of evaluating, developing, and managing your people. Until then…
Soli Deo Gloria
“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:12
J. Keith Hughey
Web site: www.jkeithhughey.com
Transforming Potential into Unmatched Performance
Copyright 2023 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. The entire early library of Monday Morning Musings issues may be found at www.jkeithhughey.com. Your comments are welcome and encouraged.