Stop promoting any staff before you do this

  • Post published:01/09/2021
  • Reading time:5 mins read

Err whatHave you ever heard that current performance is the best predictor of future performance?

Do not believe it!

There is a big BUT that you need to understand.

The big question you must ask yourself is how qualified your star performer is if promoted to a higher position, to a different job scope, and with more responsibility?

Let me give you a great example, how terribly bad things can go when promoting an employee based on your assessment solely on current performance.

Reading this article may, best-case scenario, save you from being fired because you didn’t know about the Peter Principle in the management of people.

The Peter Principle

The Peter Principle is a concept in management developed by Dr Laurence Peter, which observes that employees are promoted based on their success in a current job.

But Dr Peter makes a serious point about the shortcomings of how people are promoted within hierarchical organizations.

As employees move up the ladder in the organization, it is a matter of time and number of promotions, before they will reach a level at which they are no longer competent.

People in a hierarchy tend to rise to their “maximum level of incompetence”.

By Dr Laurence Peter

Sales Rep promoted to Sales Manager

Super salesmanThe best example of how disastrous a wrong promotion can be for your company is when the company’s best-performing Sales Representative is promoted to a Sales Manager leadership position.

I saw it myself many many years ago when one of my Sales Rep colleagues (individual contributor) was promoted to take the leadership of the sales team (and me).

Within the first six months two things were happening:

  1. Our sales were going down because our former Super Sales Rep, now Sales Manager, was no longer in the market doing what he was good at. He was in the office busy managing the sales team.
  2. Other Sales Reps started to leave the company in frustration of his failure to lead and motivate the team.

The poor guy was eventually fired, but the Vice President who was behind his promotion in the first place was surprisingly not.

Who would you have fired – the Sales Manager or the Vice President?

Skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another

So, when can you trust and believe that current performance is the best predictor of future performance?

  • It is only true if the new job is similar to the current!

So, if you are recruiting a new HR Manager to lead your HR Team and have a shortlist of candidates who are currently also in HR Manager positions, you can assess current performance and with some certainty understand what can be expected from the person you hire.

However, if you are considering to promote your own Compensation & Benefits Supervisor (single contributor) to the HR Manager position (leadership responsibility) it’s like apples and oranges that are fundamentally different and therefore not suited to comparison.

Measure what truly motives the person

HappyRemember, an internal or external candidate for a job will tell you anything to get the job.

Do not trust your gut feeling. Few of us has a gut that is always right. Click here for a previous article on gut feeling.

You need a psychometric assessment that will provide some factual data points to help you.

A measurement and analysis of what truly motives the person is the key. We all have natural preferences that make us motivated, happy, and content. A normative or quasi-ipsative tool, such as The Predictive Index, is an excellent tool.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.