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How Managers Make Mistakes With Internal Promotions

June 27, 2011

By: Carletta Clyatt

Thinking of moving your longtime service writer into a sales position?  Not so fast!

Say you have an employee who has worked very well for you throughout the years. He’s conscientious, practical, team minded and organized…a dream employee. Lately, though, he’s seemed frustrated. He’s also started hinting that he’d like it if you’d give him an opportunity in sales. You want to reward his loyalty and high-quality work, keep him happy -- he deserves it. He’s smart, eager to learn, and you have an empty slot to fill. Should you let him go for it? 

A common mistake managers make is to try to appease longtime workers who seem dissatisfied by offering them either a transfer or a promotion within the company. However, too many times a person who’s worked well in one role is unsuited to a new one, especially if the proposed move forces a change from one career path to another. Service-geared workers and technically minded people don’t typically perform well in sales roles. Similarly, fast–paced, outgoing, sales-oriented individuals usually won’t last long in highly technical, repetitive or behind-the-scenes jobs.

If your company is like most, it’s staffed by people with extremely different attitudes, goals, expectations and needs. You probably have some employees who state their opinions readily and others who seem to keep most of their thoughts to themselves. One group may be bold and assertive and another cautious and timid. Despite the range of personalities, it’s your job to maintain cohesiveness, ensure robust productivity, and make proper staffing decisions. To do this, you need to know yourself well and be honest about your own strengths and weaknesses; you also need to know the objectives of every job, then fill each slot with an individual who can meet those objectives. 

Very often, the assets that allow a person to perform well in one role become liabilities in another. For example, a very task focused, analytical service writer may actually be a little too reserved to establish an easy rapport with potential customers. He or she might shine when it comes to thoroughly completing work orders, carefully explaining complex information, and accurately estimating jobs, but will that same person be able to charm strangers, press for results, and push potential buyers to close a deal? 

You might be pleased to have a perfectionistic service writer, but a perfectionistic salesperson can spell trouble! Individuals who are meticulous in their work approach usually don’t take rejection lightly – or well. They can be thin skinned and are often unable to withstand the inevitable pitfalls of sales. Knowing the probable limitations and strengths of your employees empowers you to make management decisions that will benefit everyone on your team. Taking a chance, assuming that someone is versatile enough to adapt to a totally new role can be a devastating and very expensive mistake. 

While a good understanding of your existing staff will help you know who to transfer or promote to which job, it also pays to learn all you can about potential employees. Repeatedly hiring the wrong people for the job or bringing on personalities who don’t mesh with your team leads to frequent turnover; this, in turn, will drain you both financially and mentally, triggering extra expenses, stress, low morale, resentment and poor productivity. 

It’s smarter (and less expensive) to know a person’s positive attributes and weaknesses before you transfer or promote and before you hire. You’ll steer clear of mutual disappointment, frustration, arguments and financial losses. There are many management tools available that will help you quickly identify well-suited candidates. One of these is The Omnia Profile®, a written behavioral assessment that compares the traits of potential new hires and existing staff to those of your ideal employee, perhaps someone who has been successful on the job or longstanding. 

The process is simple. A 15 minute behavioral assessment questionnaire is completed by your applicant/employee either online or on paper. It renders an in-depth look at a person’s compatibility with a given job, potential for success and ability to adapt to specific work environments and managerial tactics. The Omnia Profile® works like an easy to read roadmap, and shows you specific ways to navigate through a person’s needs, quirks and pitfalls. You’ll learn shortcuts leading to increased productivity and be alerted to potential behavioral problems that could arise. 

Unlike other assessments, The Omnia Profile® is NOT computer generated and is NOT a pass or fail test. Trained analysts -- real people -- evaluate your subject’s responses and write a full report regarding strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, and possible challenges on the job. The Profile is explained in easy-to-understand terms, so you don’t need a doctorate in psychology to interpret it! 

One of your responsibilities as a manager is to bring out the best in your staff. You need to ensure they’re fit for the job and reaching high to meet your standards. However, if you don’t really know how to motivate them, you’ll waste an inordinate amount of time spinning your wheels, trying to figure out what makes them tick or just hoping to get them through another day. 

The next time someone seems ready to assume responsibilities at your company, dig a little deeper. Make sure the people who appear to be qualified really are!  Know your employee return on investment!  Countless business relationships have been ruined and irreplaceable dollars spent when workers are placed into roles that are simply not suited to them.

Once you’ve gained a clear understanding of your employees, you’ll know when to move them, where to place them and how to reward them!

Carletta Clyatt

Carletta Clyatt, a popular seminar speaker, is the SVP at The Omnia Group. She offers clients advice on how to manage more effectively and gain insight into employee strengths, weaknesses and behaviors. For more information about employee behavioral assessments, call Carletta at 813-280-3026 or email:

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