Have you ever promoted your superstar employee only to have him fall flat on his face in the new position? It’s a common occurrence that often perplexes leaders, but there are many reasons why this happens. Perhaps you promote someone who doesn’t want to be your next manager, or you promote them before they’re prepared. Or maybe what really made them stand out in their previous role isn’t what’s needed in the next position.
Business author Marshall Goldsmith wrote What Got you Here Won’t Get You There, which offers insight and advice on how to increase the success of your newly-promoted leaders. Goldsmith contends that whenever someone experiences success in the workplace, they typically get a positive feeling from it. Their self-esteem increases and they begin to have more confidence in their abilities. However, this can also lead to trouble.
When a person has a string of successes, he or she may begin to adopt beliefs that aren’t necessarily true. For instance, she may assume more personal credit for the success of department projects than is appropriate. Or he may begin to believe that his own value is higher than reality shows. These are human failings that anyone can fall prey to. But they are dangerous because they may alter a person’s behavior and set him or her up for failure rather than success.
In order for employees to gain new knowledge and skills, they need to know what to let go. The title of Goldsmith’s book puts it front and center: the skills that a person was using before were good, but the new role is going to require different skills. As a result, new leaders may need to learn not to use certain strategies that served them well in their previous positions. Common examples of this are being too caught up in the details and being too hands-on. In a leadership role, an employee needs to focus on supporting the team to accomplish work and on delegating assignments.
If you promoted someone recently and they’re not making the necessary behavioral changes to succeed, it is your job to guide them. Newly-promoted leaders are feeling great about their new position and the success that allowed them to achieve it. However, it’s a critical time to start coaching these workers on the skill set that is necessary for success today.