Manage Risks of Early Promotion


Staged Promotions – Accelerate role-readiness using focused development with check-ins

Leaders are not always ready the moment you need them to step into a new role. An inexperienced leader can increase risks in continued customer satisfaction, operational / execution risks, and employee satisfaction and retention. Using a a staged promotion could be a way to mitigate risks, while ensuring that leadership development is accelerated and monitored with defined targets on knowledge gained and skills and competencies gained during each period within a specified timeline.

Process and Timeline

The graphic below outlines the process and shows an example of running the process over a 9-month period. The duration of such a process can vary but watch out for making the period too long – longer than 12 months. It can lead to process fatigue and demotivation of the leader. It is important that the process starts with an orientation to ensure the leader understands how the process will work and what is on the other side of the development period. The leader should be clear on what he/she is signing up for.

Defined learning path

During the development period, there needs to be a few concrete check-in points whereby the leader is demonstrating knowledge, skills and insights gathered and learned over the period. Instead of making the check-in points being general discussions, it is useful to select a few key focus areas for a presentation to be delivered at the end of each of the development periods.

Each check-in event needs to result in specific feedback being captured and shared with the developing leader. The feedback helps him/her to further focus and improve on their learning approach for the remaining learning periods.

The final check-in is usually the final decision-point where the executives present are willing to confirm the promotion of the leader – ending the interim nature of the assignment.

The example below shows how a project or facility leader can be assigned specific areas to learn about over the 9-month period. Each of the areas are important for the normal day-to-day activities of the developing leader and the focus simply means nothing is missed in helping the leader perform well in the role in future. It helps to include the strategic and the “why” part of a role since a new role is often mostly or mainly about the “what” to get done.

Notes

  • The orientation step which helps the leader understand the design of the development path, the role he or she has and also how to ensure his/her own success making use of available internal and external development resources. Before the orientation session, a leader has typically already understood from his/her manager that they are offered the development opportunity on an interim basis and the leader has agreed to proceed. The leader also needs to know what happens if he/she does not succeed at the end? Will they get a different assignment and what might that be?
  • Preparing the executives before the check-in events (when check-in events are set up to be a presentation followed by questions and answers). Executives need to understand the design of the development path, the purpose of the focus areas, the development needs of the leader and how they are to capture their feedback to be presented back to the leader after the event.
  • Feedback to the leader should be specific and be a balance of activities that are good to maintain, which ones to develop further and which ones to start or stop going forward. Specific examples of desirable behaviors or results should be highlighted. A discussion on risk identification and management may also be useful to help the developing leader understand how to adjust own focus to best mitigate and manage risks associated with own development as a leader as well as risks associated with the role..
  • This process is very useful to help a leader understand what the new role would include when they are meeting all expectations of stakeholders. A leader who feels uncomfortable meeting all those expectations will typically ask to be taken off the development path before the end having realize it is not for him or her. And this allows for re-assignment and solving the leadership vacancy in a different way.

Listening to a presentation by the leader on the assigned topics goes a long way towards providing executives with a sense of comfort (or alarm!) in terms of what can be expected from this leader in this role going forward. While these check-in points should not be the only determinant of how the leader is performing in the new role or estimating future behavior, it is a great way to understand the reasoning a leader applies in making business determinations and decisions and how the leader approach problem-solving when faced with adverse situations.

Coaching Program Orientation – Presentation


All coaching programs should contain an orientation as one of the starting elements. This session should cover the objectives of the program, what the expectations are for both coaches and those to be coached and any other general information that would be important for the participants of your coaching program. You can choose to combine the two groups for the session or you could choose to do separate sessions for coaches and those to be coached. If you choose the former you may want to add a training or reminder section of any specific coaching aspects that you wish to empathize.

Slides for the orientation meeting

The download file above contains a series of slides to help you get started creating your own. It shows some of the typical questions that coaching program participants may have and answers that may be relevant, but of course subject to your edits to suit your specific needs.

Tips:

  • Be sure to have a Q and A portion to answer any specific questions that anyone may have.
  • The front part of the presentation which sets the scene in terms of “no entitlement to promotion etc.” would be relevant if you have experienced that as an issue in your workforce or talented employee pool. In some cultures that may be seen as “offensive” or even “threatening” that it would be mentioned. So be culturally sensitive when you consider keeping that comment.
  • In the roles section I mention HR as the function supporting the coaching program – depending on your organization that could be your Learning and Development department, your Organization Development (OD) group or any other department/group.
  • Be sure to provide the coaches and those to be coached with all the tools they will need. If not printed and handed out at your orientation session, then perhaps a soft copy on a USB stick or per email after the session. Coaching questions or Preparation for Coaching

Presentation Feedback Template


Conducting presentations at the end of developmental assignments is a common way for employees to share knowledge and demonstrate the value of his/her contribution to solving a situation or creating a new solution.

Presentations is also a great way to evaluate how much an employee has learned from an assignment, if you are the manager, mentor or L&D Partner supporting that function or project. Just telling someone that he or she did a “good job” at the end is not a substitute for specific and actionable feedback which a structured template can offer those attending the end-of-assignment presentation.

Structure

  • The structure of the end-of-assignment presentation typically would include these topics:
  • About the presenter – brief bio including background experience up to the assignment, role during the assignment and career ambitions and goals.
  • An executive summary of the solution provided or improvement implemented.
  • Brief overview of the Situation that had to be addressed, specific objectives identified and met and the team that were involved in addressing the situation.
  • Outcome achieved including metrics and recognition for support from other people and groups.
  • Summary of key learning points that the employee takes away from the assignment and will use in future
  • Questions and Answers session

The templates I am sharing include the Presentation Feedback Form which can help those attending the presentation to structure their feedback to the presenter (the assignee) in a consistent way. An HR or Training/Learning/ Development representative can collect all the feedback forms afterwards and collate those into one feedback document for the benefit of the assignee.

The second template is for the HR or L&D person who will combine all of the feedback received onto one Summary sheet which can be shared with the presenter. The feedback can offer helpful developmental suggestions and also recognize the successes and achievements that the presenter was able to demonstrate during the presenttion.

Tips:

  • Customize the first column to include specific details around developmental objectives that were set as a part of the assignment. That way the presenter gets very specific feedback on how well he or she met those expectations through the presentation and handling questions during the session.
  • Be sure to prepare those who would provide feedback so they understand how feedback is to be captured on the form – sometimes they are confused about the columns and you may even prefer to just have one column with a score. Specifically ask them to add comments to help enrich the feedback and make it easier for the presenter to understand how to improve on his or her performance in future.
  • Deliver the feedback in person (vs by email) once the combined Feedback form is completed. Presenters may have further questions on how to interpret the feedback or how to improve on their own performance and should have the opportunity to get guidance and coaching on that during the feedback meeting to optimize the learning opportunity.