Are you promoting your top talent to a level of incompetence?

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“He is one of our top performers on the job, but no one wants to work with him.

If something doesn’t change we will have to let him go – unfortunately as good as he is, he has to be able to get the buy-in of his team if we’re going to be successful. …can you do something to help us?”

This is a regular request that comes my way from Executives and CEOs.

Daniel Goleman (2007), an expert in emotional intelligence in the workplace, writes about how people are regularly promoted to a level of highest in-competence.

This is evident in corporates everywhere. It goes something like this…He has the talent. He performs well in his technical role. He is promoted to Jr. Management. He delivers in this role. He is effective at getting the job done but does it mostly by himself. He continues to perform at the highest calibre. Because he performs he is rated high in the talent grid. He is promoted to Senior Management.

This is where the ball game changes –

At a senior management level you working less with your Technical Skills and more with your Social Skills. Your ability to solve conflict. Your ability to motivate others. Your ability to influence. These competencies speak more to your personality, not your cognitive ability.

It is in this moment that if you haven’t ever done any work on understanding yourself and understanding others that your career comes to a grinding halt (at best) and a smashing collapse (at worst) because you have now been promoted to your level of incompetence.

And talent selection makes this mistake all the time.

So what can be done about it?

We need to help these senior leaders develop their emotional and social competence. We know they are often quick learners, they like to master new areas, they work well with data. So we use assessments to help profile their EQ and personality competence and let the report results speak for themselves in a manner that is clear and concise. Just how they like it.

Giving senior management accurate, understandable insight into Who they Are so they can better master the ability to understand their behaviors, how others see them (as sometimes this itself is a blindspot) and how to then develop these key areas most effectively is crucial in developing their ability to survive and thrive in positions of leadership.

We need to help these already skilled professionals develop the competencies required of them at this level which have never been required to this degree before.

My role as the psychologist in TomorrowToday is to make sense of these very paradoxical positions that organizations often find themselves caught in. Accurate and internationally respected assessment tools such as the ESCI or WAVE Styles are a great way to do this effectively. They need to be administered by a trained psychologist, can be done quickly and electronically and may just help prevent that Top Talent stagnating or worse, having half their team leave the organization from frustration!

Connect with us today if you’d like to chat to Tamryn, author of this article, or for further information on the various assessments we can offer your team to ensure your top talent is performing to their full potential. 

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2 thoughts on “Are you promoting your top talent to a level of incompetence?”

  1. Chris Melck says:

    No mention of the “The Peter Principle” (1969)?

  2. Tamryn says:

    Yes Chris, quite right- promotion to the highest level of incompetence is the Peter Principle. What are your thoughts on it?

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