Hiring Wisdom: When Promoting a Star Employee Backfires

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Stop promoting people to management positions because they are great at their jobs.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen employers promote a STAR employee (say a great salesperson or technology wizard) to a management position, only to have it backfire.

The employer loses the highly productive contributions of the STAR employee (whose efforts are now diluted by being responsible for the performance of an entire group), and the employee is miserable because he/she is no longer playing to his/her strengths.

Raises and bonuses, yes; promotions, no

We should reward STARs with higher salaries or bonuses or incentive plans and fancy titles, but not with promotions to management.

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When its time to promote someone, identify those who have good people and managerial skills (organization, delegation, time management, prioritizing, listening, etc.). This simple course correction will solve improve results in three crucial metrics of success:

  1. Productivity;
  2. Managerial effectiveness; and,
  3. Employee retention.

This was originally published on Mel Kleiman’s Humetrics blog.

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.


2 Comments on “Hiring Wisdom: When Promoting a Star Employee Backfires

  1. I agree with you.   Give all star employees a raise.   It’s an incentive for others to follow.    In regards to a management position, they too must have the experience and skills to perform their duties of the position appropriately and fairly.   And if they too are star employees, they should get a raise too.

  2. This is a really great point. Just because your star employee is excellent at his or her job doesn’t make them excellent management material. The star candidate who impressed you in their video interview and with their on the job performance might seem like a shoo-in for management status. But not every great employee is meant to manage other people, and you might actually be impinging the employee’s performance by forcing them into a role they don’t want. Before promoting someone to a managerial position, look critically at their strengths and see if this is the right role for them to grow into.

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