Promoting Someone? Take the Right Steps


When it comes to growing your business, you reach a point when your workload is not sustainable. You and your existing management team simply don’t have enough hours in the day to cope, and you are going to need more leadership capacity. You could hire another manager or team leader externally, or decide to promote one of your key (technical) performers from within the business itself. But whatever you decide, you know that there are risks involved; will your new manager deliver the business growth you need; will they earn the respect of their team; will they handle their new responsibilities; will they handle the pressure? The list goes on.

According to “Growing Your Small Business”, a report by the Chartered Management Institute, poor management was identified as the leading cause of small business failure, and was blamed for 56% of insolvencies. So, there’s good reason to make the right choices and get this new manager working to their full potential and up to speed quickly.

Here are 5 steps to help you cut out the risk


  • Specify the role: You might need, let’s say, a “production manager” and think that a title is enough. Tempting though it might be to stop at that point, you and your potential recruit are in serious danger of making incorrect assumptions. It’s important therefore to get into the detail about the type of person you need. You should include a description of the duties, the expected results and how they are measured, what customers expect etc. They will need a certain skillset and some relevant experience in the chosen discipline, in this case a manufacturing environment.
  • Check their potential: The perfect candidate for this new role may not yet exist, so now it’s time to ask: does the person you have in mind have the potential to grow and develop into the role? Could they, at some future time, become your successor and continue to grow the business, perhaps leading it in new directions? You could look at their track record so far and see how they have progressed.
  • Have the conversation: Now it’s time to meet and confirm your joint understanding about this new role and your (joint) expectations. It’s your opportunity to explore the role in more depth, to check that you have the right person lined up, AND that this person really does want the job.   In a previous post, I drew attention to expectations and the serious consequences of assumptions which can be put right through a conversation. Isn’t it better to have that conversation now, proactively, rather than later?
  • Support them: One essential ingredient of 21st century leadership is showing that you care about your people, and this is especially true when you have a new manager reporting to you. You should expect to be asked lots of questions as issues appear day to day, so it’s your job to be available, to listen and to re-assure where necessary. You have many options at your disposal to train them, coach and mentor them, get external help, and provide supportive feedback. If you need more data on this topic, in this month’s HRD magazine, Richard Summerfield (HR director of JT Group) discusses the duty of care and the benefits which follow from it.
  • Acknowledge and reward: As your new manager grows into the role, then take time to notice how they are developing and tell them so. Give them some positive and specific feedback using the SBI model, and reward them appropriately.

You might think this is all common sense – and it is – but you should challenge yourself on how thorough you actually are in following these steps.

After all, you do want to take out the risks; don’t you?