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Why Companies Should Avoid Premature Promotions

The answers to these questions can greatly predict whether a high-potential employee is fit to become a manager or not.

B bronze Author: Basma El Baz
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Promotion to become a people manager is one of the most sought-after rewards in any corporate environment, but sometimes, companies do this prematurely which can cause great harm to employees.

Companies might promote an employee too early because they lack someone else with similar technical expertise, because this employee scores the highest on performance reviews, or because they are in a company with high turnover and need to fill vacant jobs. The reasons are countless, but the fact remains that all the aforementioned factors in and of themselves don’t qualify an employee to become a people manager.

You wonder why this might be a problem.. let me tell you.

1. Long-term Damage

Promoting employees too soon means they will be handed far more responsibilities and duties than they can handle. Without the proper training, they start making one bad decision after another, thinking they are benefiting the company and the team when, in fact,  they are doing more harm than good. This also creates a problem when these prematurely promoted employees start searching for another job but face many rejections. They are unable to understand the real reason, which causes them to be highly frustrated.

2. High Turnover

Bad managers are the number one reason employees leave companies. The whole team’s productivity will definitely be negatively impacted if an inexperienced manager is appointed to lead them, especially if the new unprepared manager starts using their own performance and attributes as benchmarks for the team, forgetting that each employee has their own skills and capabilities that could be cultivated differently to reach the employee’s and company’s goals. This behaviour indicates that they have not yet adopted the appropriate mindset required for effective leadership, ultimately costing the company time and money to replace them.

3. Victim Mentality

I have encountered my share of employees who were prematurely promoted in their previous jobs but not hired as people’s managers in their current jobs. Many such employees feel like victims of not being appreciated enough by their current companies because a year has passed, and they have not been promoted yet. However, upon working directly with them, the shock takes over as I wonder how they were promoted before to begin with. They lacked the basic skills necessary for any manager, such as thinking strategically and accountability to name a few. Worse, when anyone tries to coach them, they refuse because they thought they didn’t need it.

I like how a CNBC article summarises this promotion issue: “There’s a delicate art to promoting high-potential employees early enough to keep them engaged, but late enough for them to build up enough experience actually to handle their new responsibilities.”

If the management of any company is planning to promote an employee, they need to ask themselves these questions:

1- Is this employee able to plan & think strategically?

2-Did this employee lead a project before and was able to manage the stakeholders and the resources successfully?

3-Is this employee accountable? Able to take responsibility when things go south?

4-Is this employee able to help develop the capabilities/skills of his team members?

5 Does this employee have good communication skills?

The answers to these questions can greatly predict whether a high-potential employee is fit to become a manager or not.

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