A promotion should not be a reward

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A promotion should not be a reward. When promoting someone to a significant leadership position (like director or vice-president) what should you be considering?

Is this the best candidate for the position? You have a slot to fill. This person is here. It’s a logical next step. Be careful. There are other questions and long-term perspective is critical.

How does the candidate get on your radar? That’s a pretty important question.

Did the candidate get on the radar for some great accomplishment? Proven success is important but how the candidate gets there is much more predictive of future success.

So, track record for sure but add a detailed look at how achievements were achieved. Who is championing the candidate? What’s most important to them? Does it match with your future needs?

You should know what you need to know about the track record because of the one-on-one discussions about the candidate’s development plan that someone has had over time.

Has the candidate performed well individually or have they led great performance?

When selecting a future leader you must be future focused.

If a promotion is used as a reward it’s easy to get into trouble. Rewards are for past behavior and accomplishment. A promotion is about future capability. How will this candidate make the organization better? What do you expect from the position? What is the challenge? How will the candidate meet the challenge?

What ramifications are there when the candidate takes the position?

Every promotion is a signal to the organization about the significance of the position and the importance to the organization’s future. Of course someone might be disappointed that they didn’t get the promotion. How valid is the disappointment? Can you justify the candidate?

Some additional questions to consider:

  • Can the candidate articulate a clear vision?
  • Has integrity been demonstrated?
  • Can the candidate be a spokesperson for the organization internally and externally?
  • Is the candidate a storyteller?
  • Does the candidate have strong empathy and other emotional intelligence characteristics?

To do this week: Take a look at your succession plan. How do these questions drive your action? What successes and failures have you experienced with promotions?

Let me know how it’s goes. Click the “comments” box below to participate in an on-going discussion via LinkedIn.

Jim Canterucci

I don't know everything. But I want to. The focus of our firm, Transition Management Advisors, is to develop leadership capabilities to create a championship culture, generate innovation, and successfully lead the resulting changes.

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On September 11, 2018
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