When you bring on a new hire, you take extra care to help them adjust to the corporate culture, learn the job, and create a support network. If you’ve hired well, your new team member will shine and grow until it’s time for a promotion. So often, this is the point at which our star performers flail. The Peter Principle strikes again?
Not necessarily. With a little planning and effort, you can make sure your newly advanced team member flourishes – and you look like a genius.
Your just-promoted employees need ongoing support.
If you want people to succeed in their new positions, you have to recognize that they’re in a different job today than yesterday. You have to provide the same level of support as when they first joined the company. Research from Development Dimensions International indicates that internal promotions are generally more successful than external hires because employees already know the company, but that doesn’t make promotion a piece of cake. 19% of business leaders find moving into a higher position more stressful than divorce, relocation, or the death of a loved one.
And that stress can lead to failure. Corporate Executive Board research found that “46% of all leaders underperform during the course of their transitions,” but those that have solid support from bosses and peers meet their performance goals 90% of the time.
This research focuses on promotions to executive level, but any move up the ladder will represent a proportionate challenge for your rising star. If you don’t want someone to succeed in a new position, why promote them at all?
If you do want them to succeed, give them the support they’ll need.
Promoted employees need to train for their new jobs.
Your newly promoted employee may have to learn new systems, such as HR and reporting software. They may have to learn how to run meetings, give presentations, or mentor others.
They need to know how their priorities in this position may change. For example, as an individual contributor, they were responsible for their own work, but as a manager, they have to focus on the work of their direct reports.
They also have to start building their support network again. They may have different internal or external customers in their new place. They’ll need to connect with a new boss and new peers. They’ll need to reconnect with previous peers who are now reporting to them.
These are practical considerations. You might want to create a checklist or training schedule to ensure your employee covers all the bases. The less they have to learn through trial and error, the faster they’ll start performing.
Ideally, start the training before they make the jump.
Some basic preparation can help de-stress the transition. Once you’ve planned a promotion, give your employee some time to learn new systems and skills before they officially take on responsibility. Meet several times to discuss the priorities and expectations of the new job and review the current projects, goal and initiatives already under way.
This preparation not only helps your new team member get up to speed faster, but also starts building that support network of peers before it’s needed.
Support employees through the transition.
Once your employee has officially stepped into the new role, be aware that new systems and skills will still challenge them. Stay engaged to smooth out wrinkles and help them replace old habits with new ones.
Set aside regular time to get feedback and go over any important information that you missed in preparation. It can take a few weeks to a few months for someone to settle into a new position, so don’t just have lunch the first week, then forget about it.
After a while, you might observe that the new job brings out unexpected strengths and weaknesses. Someone recently promoted might be a natural negotiator but need extra time to develop presentation skills, for example.
You may also find that others don’t adjust well to having a new boss. You’ll need to help the promoted employee’s direct reports get used to a new management style. Good communication will help this adjustment a great deal, but if there’s friction on the team, don’t assume it’ll “work itself out.”
You hold the cards.
Promoting from within for important jobs makes a lot of sense. You can often get great talent at a lower salary; existing employees know the company; and it’s an excellent way to retain top performers. But it’s easy to forget how much you’re asking someone to take on when they accept a promotion.
Fortunately, you have the means to make success much more likely. A recent study indicates that an employee’s new boss, peers and direct reports all have a significant impact on post-promotion success. Stick around after the celebration with real support and training, and you’ll reap the rewards of a successful transition. Peter who?