Tag Archives: testing

Difficult to Backtrack a Promotion

As a young project manager, Mario was successful at meeting deadlines and holding profit margins on each of the four projects he completed. Paul, his manager, wanted to give him a promotion, but was gun-shy.

“The last project manager I promoted did well on smaller projects,” Paul described. “But the accountabilities of longer timespan projects overwhelmed him. In the end, I had to let him go. It was almost as if the promotion ruined a good junior project manager.”

You don’t test a person by promoting them. Though not impossible, it is difficult to backtrack a promotion. Instead, test a person’s capability by giving them project work, longer timespan projects. Only if they are successful, do they get the corner office.

Don’t promote the person to test them. Test them with project work to earn the promotion.

Test With Project Work

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“What could I have done differently?” Joyce asked. “I thought Phillip was the right choice. I know now, that I was wrong, but how do you make the decision on whether or not to promote someone?”

“Why did you think he was a candidate for promotion?” I asked.

“Well, he has been with us for a little over a year. He knows the ropes. He was a team leader, had the respect of his team,” Joyce replied.

“And what level of work do you think he is capable at?”

“Well, based on what we have been talking about, his current capability seems to be about four weeks or a little more, but not a lot more.”

“So, how could you find out how much more?”

“Well, he was successful at four weeks. I could have given him a task that took six weeks to complete, or eight weeks.”

“Exactly,” I pointed out. “The best way to determine performance is with project work. The problem with project work, is that, until we talked about Time Span, you had no way to determine the level of work. With Time Span, you can measure with more precision. Your job, as his Manager, becomes more precise.”

A Decision Based on Hope?

Sylvia was perplexed. Difficulty trusting her judgment. “I have this gut feeling that Porter would make a good supervisor. But, he is our best technician. If I promote him and it doesn’t work out, I might lose my best technician.”

“Why do you feel Porter has the potential to be supervisor?” I asked.

“Intuition,” Sylvia replied. “The only thing I am concerned about is his people skills. As a technician, he is a good producer, and whenever anyone has a question, he is the lead guy. Whenever anyone has a problem, they talk to Porter. When anyone has a decision to make, Porter gets consulted. He has a knack for knowing what needs to get done next. I can see his planning skills, always looking ahead. He knows when materials are supposed to arrive, when we need to order, even for the longer lead time stuff.”

“Then what is your hesitation?”

“Sometimes, his people skills are a little rough,” she explained. “I don’t want to promote him and then find out he is a dictator.”

“Rather than assume, or guess, or hope that Porter has the potential to be a supervisor, how could you find out? How could you find out before you promote him? How could you confirm that he is not a dictator?”

“I guess I could talk to him,” Sylvia searched.

“And, so, he tells you he is not a dictator. Is that enough? Is that enough evidence to make a firm decision to promote him?” I pressed.

“Well, no.”

“Then how? How can we create tangible evidence that he has the potential to work effectively with other people?”

“I guess I could give him something to do where he has to work with other people in the capacity of a leader?” Sylvia tested.

“Not a permanent role assignment, but project work. Give Porter a project where he is the project leader for a specific task that requires him to use the resources of other people on a project team. If he fails, you have a broken project, big deal, you can manage that risk. If he is successful, you will have tangible evidence on which to base your decision. Not a hope, a wing and a prayer, but tangible evidence.”