Being promoted from your technical role to a managerial or leadership role within your organisation is usually met with excitement. It’s a sure sign that the company recognises your true value.  You have worked hard in your field and you have finally made it.

Unfortunately, this type of promotion can cause insurmountable challenges for the employee and the company.

The problem is, the employee is promoted based on his or her excellent track record in the position they currently hold.  These people often have excellent technical expertise, or some special kind of skill so the seemingly natural course is they are promoted to managerial or leadership roles.

With the very best of intentions, leaders take these people from being the best and ask them to step into roles they’ve never held or been trained in.

The negative impact on general morale, the organisation, the promoted employee and production can be far reaching.

That excellent employee has now gone from a high-performing employee to a failing leader and the consequences are high: 

  • The employee goes from being one of the team to giving direction to those same people and this can be extremely difficult transition for all parties.
  • When the promoted employee fails or even just performs poorly they are often met with comments like “The employee doesn’t understand the role, Or the employee isn’t driven to succeed” etc. , Whatever the reason, the problem is generally assumed to be the employee’s the employee’s fault or responsibility. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.
  • If the boss’s treatment of the employee is deemed unfair or unsupportive, other employees can quickly become disgruntled and the workplace culture will suffer.
  • As the employee becomes aware that they are struggling as a new leader, they often suffer from high stress and anxiety levels.
  • The employee may disengage or take sick leave to avoid having to deal with the issue
  • The employee, feeling that cannot cope with the role may resign leaving the company with one less highly skilled worker.
  • The employee’s mental wellbeing will more than likely be negatively impacted
  • It costs more than we think – According to PwC, the cost of staff turnover in Australia,per employee is anywhere their annual salary to 2.5 times its equivalent.
  • Negative staff turnover can impact on the organisational brand

Four tips to prepare your employees for leadership:

Career Planning

Career planning is the process used by an employee and employer to chart a course within an organisation for his or her career path. Career planning involves understanding what knowledge, skills, personal characteristics, and experience are required for an employee to progress his or her career ​laterally, or through access to promotions.  If an employee aspires to be a leader in the organisation, you can help them to hit specific measurable milestones or goals to develop the required skill set to succeed at the next level

Succession planning

Succession planning demonstrates a genuine commitment to develop the existing workforce and ensure that employees have the skills, experience and knowledge to achieve success. Even if you are a small business succession planning should be a priority

Training is an investment – not an expense

Committing to lifelong learning is not just for leaders or managers; we need to constantly develop our employees.  This doesn’t just mean sending employees to a training course once they are promoted, rather it means creating a culture of ongoing learning and development.  Start by mapping out the necessarily qualities for leaders within the company, then begin cultivating that talent over a period of time.

Mentoring and shadowing also plays a crucial role in cultivating effective, long-term learning experiences for employees.

If you’re told the pilot on your flight had not been trained to undertake the role would you get on the plane? 

It is no different when it comes to training our emerging managers and leaders with the necessary skill set that will see them succeed.


Sally Healey – CEO

Career Development Centre