One mistake I see with entrepreneurs — more than even with business leaders — is promoting really talented staff too soon. I understand this situation well because I am a product of people promoting me earlier than they should have. In my career, someone probably saw some talent and promoted me before I was ready for the position. In most cases, I rose to the occasion and did a good job.
However, promoting people too soon is a classic problem that entrepreneurs have. Entrepreneurs make the mistake of promoting too soon because they can see potential in a person who is long on talent but short on experience. That trait is also an Achilles’ heel, or potential risk. Entrepreneurs get excited about the person and what he or she could do in their business to help propel it forward, so they promote the right person at the wrong time. The person gets promoted into a role or job that he or she is not ready for, and the job is not right for that person.
It’s hard for a young person to say no to a promotion. That person doesn’t have all the skills they need. Before you start questioning me, I’m all for promoting people and promoting young people. Again, I am a product of people promoting me too soon. All I want to ask entrepreneurs to do is to slow down a little bit.
You see the potential, and you fall in love with what the role could be for that person, not what that role is going to be now. You promote the person too early, and that person ends up having a lot of challenges. When you promote someone who is long on talent and short on experience, you are on the hook to train that person and make sure he or she has the support needed to succeed. The real problem isn’t the person you promoted.
The problem is that you don’t support the person who was promoted too soon. Entrepreneurs fail the most by promoting and then failing to support that person. A near universal truth about entrepreneurs is that they love to promote people and then walk away.
You love the idea of them being in the role. You love the idea of them taking care of problems in your business, but you don’t love the hard work of supporting them and training them.
I hope this echoes in your memory when you go to promote someone: Only promote people if you are ready to train and support them.
Written by: Wade Wyant
Red Wagon Advisors, West Michigan Scaling Up Coach