July 26, 1999
Employee Only When They Are Qualified
We believe strongly
that the number one reason businesses struggle or fail is due
to ineffective management. There is little doubt that most businesses
do a poor job of hiring and promoting the right people into management
and supervisory slots. This article focuses on promoting employees
into management primarily because there is overwhelming evidence
to indicate that most of these promotions are given based on
The most common
reason businesses promote an employee into management is longevity.
The prevailing attitude is that someone who is loyal should be
rewarded by being moved into a management role so they can make
more money and be given an incentive to stay on. The unfounded
fear is that if the employee isn't promoted they will go elsewhere.
Our first rule in promoting employees is that longevity should
play a secondary role in the decision to promote. In fact it
should be used only in the case where two or more employees are
vying for a management position and all are equally qualified
to be promoted. Rewarding long-term employees by promoting them
into positions they are not well-suited for is unfair to the
employee, fellow employees and the company.
reason people are promoted is because they are well liked. Being
well liked in and of itself is not a reason to promote someone.
Certainly if the employee posseses the requisite skills and profile
to be an effective manager they should be considered for the
promotion. However, it seems that too many owners and managers
promote people because they like the person. They want to reward
the individual for making them feel good and for being a good
are promoted because they are doing an excellent job in their
current positions. But does that alone indicate they will be
effective at the next level? Absolutely not! Many employees that
are effective in their current positions fail miserably as managers
So when does
it make sense to promote from within? It only makes sense when
an employee has the ability to manage effectively. That means
that all of your personal biases about employees must be shelved
when making promotional decisions. It means that unless an employee
is an excellent fit for the job they shouldn't be considered
for the promotion.
The problem in
hiring and promoting employees is that gut feelings and subjective
criteria are too often used in judging whether someone can move
into a management role and be effective. When promoting employees,
they should be taken through a rigorous process to determine
their chances for success in a management position. The employee
should be expected to interview with top management and should
be put through the paces to isolate behavioral tendencies that
will give some indication about how they will handle various
management situations. And the employee should be tested and
assessed to determine the degree to which they match the profile
of a manager/supervisor.
decisions are made too quickly and without sound rationale. Putting
some structure and objectivity into the process will help immensely
in making the right decision. And we need to realize that some
employees will be passed over for promotions into management
simply because they are not qualified to manage. Will they leave
the company if they can't advance into management? Maybe. But
would you rather have an employee leave or have them attempt
to fill a role they are not capable of filling? If they are promoted
and are not capable of doing the job, they can do a significant
amount of damage and you will have done nothing more than set
that person up to fail. They will ultimately be demoted or terminated.
Handled properly, an employee passed up for a promotion will
often stay with the company.