Over-Promoted and Underperforming: Now What?
A common challenge among organizational leaders is forming an effective leadership team. The need to do this can lead to high-performing employees being tapped long before they are prepared. Some time into their tenure on the senior team, it becomes painfully obvious that they are ill equipped to do the complex, critical thinking and problem solving required to function and contribute at the strategic level.
When this reality comes into focus, a path forward can seem daunting. CEOs don’t want to risk losing a valuable employee, yet leaving them in place on the senior team may send a message of indecision or worse. Changing a senior team member’s title can be embarrassing. Reducing their compensation is a challenge as well, even in cases where a significant increase was awarded as part of the promotion. What to do?
There are options; ways to close the skills and ability gap. While these tactics are best put into action before the employee is advanced to a senior level, they can help move a team member toward more productive levels of contribution.
Begin with a comprehensive assessment. While there are many useful tools for doing this, the Harrison Assessment is among the best. Doing so will bring an enhanced understanding of the individual’s greatest strengths and where and how they are best deployed for the greatest impact. It can also highlight deficiencies which, when carefully addressed, lead to sustainable improvement.
Assign a mentor. Ideally, this will be someone on the team who has some coaching experience and who is not in the same department as the employee. Best results come when the mentor is not the person to whom the employee reports. Consider supplementing this effort with guidance from an outside professional. Internal mentoring combined with outside coaching can bring excellent outcomes.
Develop a comprehensive study guide. This may include books such as “The Great Game of Business,” “Joy at Work,” and finance primers like “Beyond the Bottom Line” and “Financial Intelligence: A Manager’s Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean.” Utilize case studies which provide an opportunity for individuals or, better still, small groups to discuss and help solve complex business problems in a “safe harbor” environment.
Take advantage of outside development opportunities like the Graphic Communication Leadership Institute (GCLI).
By identifying potential future leaders and building out a development plan, you will put your organization well ahead of the competition for talented, committed team members. And if you promoted an employee before their time, there still may be time to help bring them up to standard.
For more information on building a development plan for your future leaders, contact me at email@example.com
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.