Succession Planning… how does a business owner know who to promote and who not to?

April 20th, 2011

I am working with three clients in very different sectors all of them struggling to figure out the answer to the same question… ‘in order to achieve our long term strategy we need to figure out who to promote and who’s already in the right ‘seat on the bus’.

Sound familiar? If it does you are not alone! Businesses of all sizes both in the public and private sectors are facing very difficult decisions. Recently I was talking to one client in the technology sector; the company is growing quickly and needs to hire a Sales Manager. The President is facing the age old problem … “should I do the logical thing and promote my best sales person into the Sales Manager’s role”. This is a common problem growing companies face, but the solution is not always to promote an existing sales “superstar”. More companies promote people into positions that they are not equipped to handle based on their performance in an existing role. Once someone has been promoted it is virtually impossible to “demote” them and the results are often devastating to the individual’s career and to the company.

Before this particular client made his decision, we talked to him about what core behaviours were required for this position. We talked about looking at his need to hire (or promote) someone to take on the newly created Sales Manager’s role. We suggested he look at the situation very objectively, taking the person he is thinking about promoting out of the picture and creating a Job Profile which maps out 7 key traits and creates a graphical summary of the position. He could then ask his current sales person to complete an assessment that would align with the Job Profile he completed for the role. The Job Profile provides a written summary of those specific traits along with the ability to compare candidates against the job.

This story actually had a happy ending… instead of promoting his best sales guy into a role where he would be less effective, we helped him hire a proper Sales Manager and let his best sales guy continue to be his best sales guy.

If you have a similar story you would like to share or any thoughts on this blog, please let us know.

Comments are closed.