When you’re considering someone for advancement, a lot of concerns can come up.
- Can you trust them?
- Is it the right time for them?
- Is it the right time for your business?
- Are they ready for the next step?
Promoting people is a vital piece to growing your team and expanding your business. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to moving people into positions with more responsibility.
One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is promoting people too soon.
It’s easy to get swept up in the initial excitement of a new hire who shows all of the earmarks of a stellar team player only to get let down two or three months later.
You can get a good feel for people and their potential as early as the first interview. Sometimes, people shine as soon as they are interviewed and those you want to start grooming right away but not everyone is going to shine long-term.
When your new hire is consistent with their execution, takes on more responsibility and is genuinely curious and interested in your company for three or six months after being hired, that is a good indication that they are a good candidate for advancement.
Consistency is huge.
If someone has been with you for 3-6 months, you really get a good idea of how they perform in a variety of challenging situations. You have the chance to observe how much initiative they have, how much of a team player they are and how they fit into the big picture without putting pressure on them.
Early on, you can ask them how comfortable they are in other aspects of the company. If they have a natural sense of curiosity, they are genuinely interested in how the business works. When someone shows those types of behavior, it’s a great sign that they are a good candidate to move forward.
A red flag to watch out for is when you hire someone for a specific role but they immediately start looking for other opportunities within your company. If they are spending more time working on their personal agenda than what you hired them for, they are more than likely not a long-term player.
It’s a balance between fulfilling the role they are hired for while still being curious about the other aspects of the company and learning more on their own time or on their breaks.
When people are interested in learning about the organization and how it all works, they will focus on the core work but then ask questions at the appropriate time like during meetings or at the coffee maker.
Take notice of people who are curious about the inner workings of the big picture of your business who are genuinely interested or show aptitude without working on their own hidden agenda.
What are the First Steps in Promoting People?
Start small with delegating tasks that are outside of their norm. See if they can figure it out and take the initiative and figure out the problem and how they respond to new challenges.
With small projects, you get a feel for what they can do and have the opportunity to give them feedback along the way. This is an indication of what they enjoy doing and what they are capable of.
The right person will hit the ground running with it – you can see it on them – they light up and are genuinely enjoying their new responsibility.
Don’t make the mistake of talking to them ahead of time or letting them know why you’re giving them new tasks.
It puts pressure on them to perform instead of enjoying the new task (or not) while giving you the freedom to observe how they respond and rise up to the challenge (or not) without them feeling like you’re watching them or expecting more out of them.
If they know this is a “test”, it makes them stressed out and overwhelmed which can make someone fail even if they are the right person for the job.
If you see someone with a lot of potential, you can let them know that you see that potential in them without telling them that you are considering them for advancement.
This can have several benefits. It builds their confidence, lets them know that there is a future for them within the company and keeps them motivated to show up and shine. However, building people up can sometimes have the opposite effect.
When someone is told they have big potential in the company, sometimes they quit trying as hard and see themselves as “in” when they haven’t done anything to prove themselves. It’s disappointing but it lets you know early on in the game what kind of person they are. You are better knowing early that they don’t have their heart in it than to find out the hard way once they are promoted.