Things Break In The MiddleMar 07, 2023
By Klark Brown (no AI used in this writing)
The case where promotions can cause a stall.
Obvious Growth Potential
There are many ways to grow a disaster restoration company.
All of these are certainly strong components of a plan to scale and grow. I think we can also agree that good, dependable and hard-working people are a requirement!
NOW IF WE COULD ONLY FIND THOSE!!
I received an email from a really good guy from a medium-sized company in Maryland. He told me that he enjoys reading our blog and has even listened to a few podcasts when he has time.
This man is a Reconstruction Manager. He sheepishly asked if he could give me some feedback and suggestions.
This got my attention. The answer was of course an emphatic YES.
He told me that while he liked the podcast (and our YouTube Channel), his time is limited and he has to be very intentional with where he puts it.
Can you imagine the SMILE growing on my face? But where was the feedback?
He told me that he didn’t often discover much content or lessons that pertained to HIM. To an employee, even being a manager. Most of what I talk about is the Mitigation/ Emergency Services side of things.
So to that directly, I of course told him that I only spoke about the things I have deep experience in and steer away from being like 99% of people and do not talk about things I don’t. I also expressed that he was 100% right that I might be missing some opportunity to lean into something I am passionate about….growing junior leaders.
The Peter Principle
A book written by Laurence J. Peter in 1969 [Peter Principal Wikipedia] explains a concept in management where front-line people are often promoted and elevated based on their particular skills in the role they are employed. Also being recognized for their work ethic, creativity, dependability, and a whole host of other positive characteristics.
Right away what this causes is, that it leaves a talent vacancy or a void in the position from which they were snatched.. This causes them to become generally responsible for the untalented staff that took their place. And then because those are unprepared, and without proper training, the newly promoted manager has to compensate for that deficiency.
What this COULD look like to the newly placed manager is that they still hold the same job with a title and more responsibility and expectation. And we wonder why people leave their jobs. It’s not long until that becomes a whole lot of NO FUN.
The Peter Principle outlines a habit of bringing people up to fill a position where the leadership no longer wants to or has time to perform.
From a broader picture, Peter goes on to explain that you systemically start a habit or course of creating multiple positions on a different level that are slightly or increasingly occupied by underqualified.
When a staff employee is promoted, they are often asked to use skills that they do not have or that are very weak. This can mean the end of the road as they will struggle to fulfill the expectations (stated or otherwise) of leadership. If they have moderate skills, they will escalate up until they reach what Peter calls the Plateau. No further for them!
Now we have a few different dynamic issues.
1. The staff below that are expecting clarity and positive leadership are not getting it because their previous co-worker is frustrated, afraid (that they will be discovered as incompetent), or toxic by using aggression to compensate for their shortcomings.
2. You have a new manager growing at a healthy pace until he reaches that ceiling of their own talent or into a position where leadership does not have clear roles and accountability. It doesn’t take long for that environment to cause someone to start listening to other offers and snoop around for alternatives.
Throughout my career, I have listened to team members or helped business leaders avoid oncoming freight trains. It is much easier to deal with these things BEFORE than clean up the mess afterward.
As a learning lesson from this piece, I think a simple thing to do is sit alone and ask yourself if you:
- Have promoted anyone without preparing them for the position?
- Put that promoted person in a position where failure is inevitable.
- Did you create a vacuum of talent in their prior position?
If you have answered any of these questions and feel there are areas where you could improve, write them down!
Next, sit with your middle managers and discuss your new realizations and ask if they feel there are any areas that you could lean into their growth.
A management course, a mentor, a weekly scheduled time to specifically review challenges?
I am confident that this will open a great conversation, and will certainly present a truly empowering culture that they are not alone.
Growth is natural and we will NEVER be fully ready for it….but we don’t have to fall down EVERY TIME to get to a better place.
One last ask....
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