Professor Michael Roberto's Blog: Can You Identify Star Employees Early On?

Professor Michael Roberto's Blog: Can You Identify Star Employees Early On?

The good professor Roberto offers an interesting find today. He's discussing how organizational leaders find high potential future leaders among entry-level ranks:

They must think about the skills and capabilities required to succeed in future leadership positions and look for signs of potential in those areas, rather than simply looking at task performance in the entry level job. After all, good technical skills often make you stand out in an entry-level job, but those capabilities don't mean you have great leadership potential. In addition, companies need to watch for the late bloomers, who perhaps take awhile to find their footing.

This is absolutely one of the top areas for improvement: promotion expertise across institutions. The great assumption -- that current performance is the primary key indicator for success as a future manager -- is rendered false with one quick swipe of the sword of leadership truth: performing a task is a different role than managing others who are performing that task.

Different jobs.

Different sports.

Not even in the same ballpark.

Too often, we see directors promote top-performing employees to team managers based on performance in the role. The logic is sound on the surface:

  1. the employee is a top performer therefore they have a deep understanding of the role and what it takes to be successful
  2. they have a track record of success which will help them build a relationship of trust with their new employees
  3. they understand the metrics by which their performance is being measured, and so on, and so on.

All these things are true.

But the challenges that come from management are so often unrelated to functional performance of the team. Managing people requires a unique skillset, one many are not prepared to learn, understand, and deliver if all they've done is the entry-level functional role. And don't forget: these promotions tend to leave a bigger hole in the team than anticipated -- promoting a top performer to middle management creates a vacuum of lost productivity in the seat they once filled.