Promotions: Oops, You Promoted the Wrong Employee

You’ve probably heard of the Peter Principle; people rise to their level of incompetence. People are promoted until they no longer do a good job, and then they stay in that position—doing a poor job.

When we look at rewarding our best employees, we often give them the best and that’s a promotion. Unfortunately, sometimes those moves don’t end up working out the way you want them to. Now, you’re stuck with the sinking feeling that you made the wrong choice… so what do you do?

Making the Best Out of It

Before you start making other plans for your employee, consider whether their failure to meet expectations or deliver results is because they’re actually not fit for the specific role or that there’s a workplace issue. If there is a problem, have a conversation with your employee to figure out the direction of your additional steps.

If their poor performance isn’t the result of a broader organization-wise problem, there are many different ways you can approach this. We recommend outlining a plan to coach your employee for success in the role or to transition them to another. Here are some important factors to consider: 

  • The employee’s personality. Are they self-aware? Do they have the ability to accept feedback and act on it? Are they willing to change, learn, grow and be successful?
  • Time and money required. Consider how long it will take to get the employee up to standards. Be honest in your analysis of the return on investment for additional training and coaching. 
  • Don’t cling to the employee. Do not spend more resources than necessary. While it can be hard to admit a mistake was made, the risk of hanging onto the wrong person can be detrimental to your business. 

Things can get rough when someone is in a role that’s unsuited for them, but it’s often the best to move them to a new role. After all, they might just be the perfect fit for another position and return to being a highly valuable asset.

Staying Ahead of the Game

When the power is in your hands, you need to make sure you create a win-win situation for everyone; promotions need to be beneficial for the business, employee and team as a whole. To make sure you don’t encounter this situation again, consider investing into resources to help you develop clear employee insights.

Here at Prevue, we develop and use pre-employment assessments and reports to help see how a person’s personality traits will affect their performance. The assessments are done using psychometrics that measure mental and behavioral characteristics against a specific benchmark, illustrating exactly what a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses are. If one of your team members is struggling with their performance, our Coaching report can help detail their strengths and challenges to provide you guidance on how to develop them on an ongoing basis. 

Many managers ask themselves how they didn’t realize that an individual wouldn’t be a good fit, but past performance and first impressions can fool nearly anyone. After all, hindsight is 20/20 after all. Work with your team to make unbiased and objective decisions. Look at the big picture and think long term. Who’s going to set you up for success?