Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Creating Exceptional Workplaces and Extraordinary Results
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5 Mistakes Leaders Make When It Comes to Promoting High Potentials

There are two moments that stand out in the minds of experienced leaders. They are the first time they promoted someone into management and the day they had to tell that person, “Things aren’t working out.” But what is most troublesome to these leaders is the fact that they know, deep down inside; this person never had a chance.

Here are five common mistakes leaders make when it comes to promoting high potentials and what you can do to avoid disaster the next time around.

1. Promoting the Wrong Person

You promoted your top sales person into management based on performance and he is failing miserably as a leader. Revenues are slipping and the sales team is ready to bolt. You made the deadly mistake of assuming that excellence in one job would easily translate into superior performance in another, even though the skill sets required of each job are drastically different. Don’t be so quick next time to promote your best technical person into management, unless he clearly demonstrates he has the skills and the desire to successfully take on the role of a leader.

2. Too Much Rope

You had high hopes for this individual, as did everyone else. So you left her alone to do her thing. In retrospect, that was your first mistake. You gave her too much rope and she hung herself. Next time, let the rope out slowly until such time as this person has demonstrated they are ready to fly solo.

3. Assuming Your Newly Promoted Leader Will Pick Things Up Like You Did

You learned the hard way how to manage and you didn’t turn out so bad so why shouldn’t your new protégé learn the same way? Business is challenging enough in today’s tumultuous economy. Maybe this isn’t the right time for your sink or swim approach to management. The next time around, try coaching your new manager and swimming besides him, before throwing him into the deep end of the pool.

4. Failure to Provide Feedback

You figured she’d know exactly what you expected, even though you never clearly defined your expectations. Heck, your family members have figured this out. But you forgot to consider that unlike your wife, this person couldn’t read minds. In the future, outline the objectives and metrics and make it a point to check in weekly to ensure your new manager remains on track.

5. You Never Bothered to Re-staff Her Position

Your shining star was so great that she could do the work of two people. That may be fine when your work is tactical. But how can someone successfully lead, when they can’t lift their head up from their own desk long enough to engage with their people? Succession planning is your job. Have someone ready to fill the shoes that will be vacated, before promoting your next employee.

As leaders, it’s your job to identify and nurture high-potentials and to help them successfully assimilate into management. Learn from your mistakes so that next time you can say, “I’m really glad things are working out so well.”

© Matuson Consulting, 2017, All Rights Reserved.

Could you or someone you know benefit from participating in a jammed packed leadership session to help successfully transition from manager to magnetic leader? Grab an online seat for Move Up/Manage Right. First 5 people to sign up receive a complimentary 30-minute phone coaching session, following the completion of the course. Mention LinkedIn and I’ll throw in an additional coaching session! I’m available to deliver this program on site as well. Reach out to me at Roberta@matusonconsulting.com to schedule a date.

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