Employees are often promoted for all the wrong reasons – that’s the warning from one leading HR figure who says employers should look out for three traits in particular before moving a worker into a more senior position.
“The first trait an employee should have is desire,” says Roberta Matuson, president of Matuson consulting and author of The Magnetic Leader: How Irresistible Leaders Attract Employees, Customers, and Profits.’
“So many people are promoted who don’t even want the job, they don’t want to be a leader yet voila they’re crowned leader anyway,” says Matuson. “But if you don’t want to be in the job, you can’t fake – you just cannot fake enjoying a leadership role.”
Matuson – who has worked with a number of corporate giants including Microsoft, Best Buy and General Motors – says the second key trait to look out for it aptitude.
“It is not an easy job to be a leader, you really have to have the capacity and the readiness to lead others and that requires some maturity,” she tells HRM.
“I’m not saying somebody can’t be that kind of leader at age 24 but you really have to think about if that person you’re about to promote has the aptitude for the work and the job.”
The third trait to be mindful of is stamina, says Matuson.
“It takes a lot of energy to really step up and do the job – sometimes they’re not just doing their own job but they’re also doing the job of someone who just quit and they have to be able to multitask and they have to switch gears,” says Matuson. “That takes a lot of stamina and I don’t think many companies really think about that when they’re promoting people.”
US-based Matuson says organizations often make the mistake of promoting someone because they’ve performed exceptionally well in their current role, rather than promoting them because they’re a good fit for the position they’ll be moving into.
“Past performance doesn’t necessarily guarantee future performance,” she stresses. “We see this happen all the time in sales – a really great sales person is promoted to VP of sales but the company ends up losing a ton of people.
“You wind up losing the employees who now have to work for this person, you wind up losing the person who is no longer in sales, the VP now, and then you wind up losing customers because you don’t really have anybody out there selling because when you’re a VP of sales, it’s very hard to manage a sales team and sell.”