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How Do I Know When to Promote?: How Do You Know Series

You think you may have an idea that someone is ready for the next big step in their career. They seem ready to be promoted… but are they truly? The risks are high with these individuals. They may be a top individual contributor, or even if they are already in a leadership role and may be seeking a bigger responsibility, you have a tremendous decision to make that may accelerate or cripple their career. So, how do you really know when to move them up?

Our books, Speed of Purpose, IMBAR, and Gapology point the way. Look to some of the key lessons as your guide.

  • Aligned with the Purpose: Look for demonstrated evidence indicating how connected they are to your organizational purpose, mission, and overall objectives. They should feel the desire to deliver results because they matter to these things.

  • Identity & Mindset of a Leader: Look for demonstrated leadership within their peer group. They should see themselves as a leader amongst their peers, thinking and feeling in a way that shows their commitment to helping others win.

  • Proven Skills: There are two parts here.

    • Look for evidence that demonstrates A-Group performance as compared to expectations. They must deliver current results consistently to show they understand what to do and how to do it.

    • Look for evidence that shows they have set themselves up for success in the new role. Have they taken additional classes or sought leadership development? Have they reached out for additional coaching or mentorship?

Of course, it also helps if they show interest in moving ahead; they should be taking action on their desire to move ahead. Look for the evidence mentioned previously that they are setting themselves up for success. However, this doesn’t mean you should ignore those who don’t raise their hand and ask to be promoted. You may find that some of the best future leaders hide a bit under the surface. They may be so comfortable within their current role that they don’t immediately see their own potential. You certainly don’t want to push someone into a promotion before they are ready, but consider that they may require a little encouragement from you to step outside their comfort zone to see their potential. Assist them with developing solid, skill-building action plans to help them gain the competence and, as a result, the confidence needed to move ahead when they are finally ready to do so.

Remember, it is a big responsibility to promote someone. Doing it too soon may hurt their career and stunt their potential. It may also negatively impact your business as you would be moving a top performer out of their current role, and on top of that, if they struggle to lead their team, they could damage their performance as well. So, take some time to assess the risks vs. rewards. Do they have the Identity and Mindset? Do they have some proven skills that can transfer into a leadership role with a bit of continuous development? And are they connected to your Purpose, the things that really matter?

The decision is yours.


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