Why promotions and transfers can be long-shot gambles
  • leadership
  • Blog post

Why promotions and transfers can be long-shot gambles

Coming out of a recession is just about the last time you’d want to take a big gamble with your business. Survival is too precious to be thrown away on a long shot. And when you need to fill critical positions, your safest bet is to hire from within, right?

Not necessarily. More than 50% of personnel transitions – including promotions and lateral transfers – fail. That figure comes from management consultant Barry Deutsch.

And in a significant number of failures, the employee ends up leaving, either because he or she no longer wants to be there, or because the company decides termination is the only solution.

When that happens, you’ve gambled and lost double. A previously satisfactory employee has to be replaced in his or her old role, and you also have to find somebody to fill the new position the employee couldn’t handle.

Improving your chances
So how can you boost the odds that your transfers and promotions won’t end up in disappointment, recrimination and waste?

According to Deutsch, it helps to begin by recognizing the main reasons why personnel transitions fail. He lists these four:

  1. Cultural and environmental gaps. It’s all very well to talk about your company’s culture, but what you really have in most companies is a series of microcultures. If the shop floor is a command-and-control kind of place, anybody moving from there to, say, customer service may be in for a shock to find a more collaborative environment. The shock may be so great that the transfer fails.
  2. Transition desperation. Too often, the job descriptions managers use and the qualifications they require are misguided and/or overly demanding. As a result, managers may find themselves six weeks into a search with an open position still unfilled. Managers in that dire situation may resort to grabbing the nearest warm, in-house body. Needless to say, this kind of promotion/transfer has the seeds of its own failure planted in it.
  3. Inadequate integration. Managers frequently don’t do enough – or anything – to help the newly promoted worker settle into his or her new role. As a result, the person flounders and eventually sinks. Inadequate compensation planning also can prevent the person from feeling comfortable about the new role.
  4. Poor understanding of employee motivation. If a transfer or promotion is to succeed, the person needs to see where his or her self-interest lies, not just what the company will get out of the move.Some questions to ask the candidate before proceeding: What kinds of things do you want to learn? What career notches do you think this move will help you put in your belt? What’s most important to you about this opportunity?

Factors of success
Enough about failure. What about success?

Deutsch suggests that if you prepare the transfer/promotion (or new hire, for that matter) properly, you’ll get it right more than 90% of the time. Those are pretty good odds.

Critical to preparation is defining success in the job so everybody – candidates, their managers, HR – agrees and works toward the same thing. Here are the four key pieces of that definition:

  1. Situation. What’s the lay of the land in the job the person is going into?
  2. Obstacles. What hurdles will the person have to clear? Will equipment, planning, personnel or time be major problems?
  3. Action. What does the new holder of the position need to do? Is the challenge mainly organizational, creative, developmental or simply one of implementation?
  4. Results. What are the measurable results required? It’s extremely important to reach this conclusion through discussion rather than by jamming it down the person’s throat.

See more at www.impacthiringsolutions.com

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