- May 21, 2019
- Posted by: Phillip Van Hooser
- Category: Leadership, Managing Change, Succession Planning
When asking yourself, “Who should be promoted?” — you might want to consider not only seniority and experience, but something deeper.
Who Should You Promote At Work?
This is not always an easy question to answer. There are many things to consider i.e. seniority and experience. However, there is one characteristic, I believe, that makes one person stand out above the rest — desire.
- Seniority = Good
- Experience = Good
- Ample Supply of Desire = Great
Senior Employee or Promising Junior Employee?
Years ago, while still working as a corporate human resources manager, I was part of an executive team that faced a difficult managerial decision, “Who should be promoted?” We had to decide between a senior employee or a promising junior employee. The senior employee possessed adequate knowledge and skills. The junior employee admittedly possessed less institutional knowledge and skills but had tremendous upside potential, as evidenced by her personal desire to learn, grow and do.
After much deliberation, we opted for the latter. We simply believed the organization and its employees would be better served over time by the junior employee’s leadership. As you might imagine, our decision did not sit well with the rejected employee.
Defending Our Decision On “Who Should Be Promoted”
“How can you make such a foolish decision?” he demanded to know. He obviously had different feelings on who should be promoted.
The selection committee’s chairperson pulled no punches in answering the employee’s question. [Leadership is not always easy, here’s a thought on what to do when things get difficult.] He spoke truthfully and to the point.
“You actually helped us make our decision by the attitude we have all seen you display over the years. You consistently resisted most of the opportunities afforded you to learn, grow, and expand your influence within this organization. You’ve opted instead to put your own comfort and convenience ahead of the needs of those you might one day be charged with leading,” the manager stated correctly. “Such an attitude is obvious to others and inconsistent with what we expect from our leaders going forward.” [How do you motivate an employee after delivering that response? This may help.]
Faced with the truth of who should be promoted, the frustrated and desperate employee shot back, “So you just choose to ignore my almost 20 years of experience?”
The manager’s response was again direct and on target.
“I will not argue that you have nearly 20 years with this organization. But, you certainly do not have 20 years of experience. You only have a few years of experience — that period early on when you were still willing to learn and grow. However, you’ve consciously forfeited numerous opportunities to gain additional experience in more recent years. You consistently chose to be satisfied with where you are, what you know and what you do.
Success In The Making
When answering the question, “Who should be promoted?”, I have always believed personal desire to be the fuel that powers one’s commitment and ultimately one’s success. Show me an individual who has tremendous knowledge and skills but little or no personal desire to do or be more, and I will show you a pitiful example of wasted potential. But show me an individual with limited knowledge and skills who still has an ample supply of desire and I will show you a success in the making. [For more insights on empowering employees, check out this blog post: Growing from Employee to Leader — 6 Levels of Empowerment]
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