Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Use Star Profile to Avoid Peter Principle Promotions

Author Jathan Janove says he's had a ringside seat for innumerable employee/employer battles that led down a path of frustrated desires and expectations. To make that relationship work better, he developed the "Star Profile."

Janove developed the "Star Profile" to provide a basis for mutual understanding between direct reports and their supervisors. One of its benefits, outlined in Janove's recently released book, The Star Profile, is that it helps management avoid dreaded "Peter Principle" promotions.

Peter Principle Promotions

Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull's 1968 book, The Peter Principle, theorized that, "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." And they offered a disturbing corollary: In time, every job tends to be filled by an employee who is incompetent to carry out his or her duties.

To fight against that not-unlikely possibility, Janove offers the Star Profile, essentially a statement that captures—in 100 words or less—what's most important in a supervisor-employee relationship. It goes to the heart of managers' or executives' performance expectations and creates a concise picture of what it takes to succeed in a particular job, department, or work function.

Using the Star Profile to Avoid Peter Principle Promotions

It's very natural to fall into the Peter Principle trap, Janove says, because, at first glance, it's logical: You need someone to manage your engineers? You pick your smartest, hardest-working engineer. If you need a sales manager, who do you pick? Your number one salesperson.

Management tends to equate ability to do a job with the ability to manage that job, says Janove. Unfortunately, as victims of the Peter Principle can attest, the one does not necessarily follow from the other.

To illustrate how a star profile approach can help, Janove poses a hypothetical case: Assume that you are the director of sales and need a new sales manager. You want to promote from within. If you're a Peter Principle manager, you'll just promote the best salesperson. However, says Janove, if you use the Star Profiles below, here's what happens:

Star Profile—Salesperson

  • Continually stokes the pipeline, identifying and pursuing prospects and leads
  • Becomes a better closer by understanding customers' needs—and the need behind the need
  • Tracks and reports all sales and expense data promptly and accurately
  • Works as a team with customer service and accounting so that customer accounts get handled properly
Star Profile—Sales MANAGER

  • Coaches and gives feedback to sales staff so that they achieve their goals
  • Promotes a team-oriented interface with sales, customer service, and accounting departments
  • Keeps a constant eye on how we function, how our competitors function, and what's happening in the industry in order to sharpen our competitive edge.
Assume that Sara produces the highest sales numbers. She works her pipeline untiringly and is your most effective closer. Yet, as is true of many brilliant salespeople, her paperwork often leaves something to be desired.

This deficiency, abetted by Sara's top-salespeople-don't-do-paperwork attitude, periodically leads to conflicts with accounting and customer service.

Now, compare Sara's behavior with the sales manager star profile. That reveals a problem. Sara's intense focus on the next deal makes her a valuable salesperson, but it raises red flags when you consider her for a position that requires her to coach others, and to create a positive team spirit among the sales staff and employees in the other departments with which sales interfaces, Janove says.

By contrast, he notes, Mike does not produce sales at Sara's rate. But he does place a great value on relations with other employees and other departments and he shows more interest in the bigger picture. You believe his behavior is a better match with the characteristics of the sales manager's profile, and he gets the promotion.

By taking the Star Profile approach, says Janove, you avoid the Peter Principle. But what about Sara's expectations? She had the best numbers, so why didn't she get the promotion? In tomorrow's Advisor, we'll answer that question and learn how to handle another tough comp question—how to handle the "no raise this year" talk.

Thanks to BLR HR Daily Advisor

Top 10 Reasons Newly Promoted Employees Fail

Before they have time to savor the arrival of overdue recognition, newly promoted employees could be in danger of losing their higher-level positions, and even their jobs, particularly if they were promoted to replace others who were laid off during cutbacks, OI Partners, a global career transition and coaching firm, reports. Approximately half of newly promoted employees could lose their recently acquired promotions due to their inability to properly manage, motivate others, and achieve critical goals and objectives. Here are the top 10 reasons, according to OI Partners, why newly promoted employees fail in their jobs, and can wind up hurting their companies' bottom lines: 

1. They do not know how to progress from being individual performers to managing others. They have not acquired the leadership skills they need to succeed.

2. They are unsure of exactly what their bosses expect them to accomplish. They are unclear about the two or three most important goals they need to attain.

3. They do not achieve desired results within an acceptable time frame. They don't fulfill objectives within a deadline that can be as short as three to six months, or don't even realize what the deadline is.

4. They lack adequate skills to manage others. They may be first-time managers, or never had their leadership capabilities assessed.

5. They are unable to motivate others and keep them fully engaged in their jobs. They don't reach out to people and find out what will keep them interested in doing their jobs.

6.  Their ability to relate interpersonally with others is poor. They may exhibit toxic management behaviors such as being too critical, abrasive, unpredictable, self-centered, arrogant, close-minded, or volatile.

7. Their verbal and written communications skills are sub-par. OI points out the ability to communicate well, both verbally and in written communications, is an important foundation of good management.

8. They are not able to build good relationships with direct reports, colleagues, and other departments. They don't enlist the support of subordinates and peers to build commitment to their strategies.

9. They fail to recognize contributions. Managers need to acknowledge the achievements of others and share their successes.

10. They do not determine and use the communications methods preferred by their bosses. They don't find out whether their bosses prefer e-mail, weekly reports, facts and figures, or just informal face-to-face meetings.

Thanks to Inside Training Newsletter