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Home First Months Performance Management How should you promote your star performers to managers?

How should you promote your star performers to managers?

Juliet Newton
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Management theory is like hair: it continues to grow and change sometimes depending heavily on the fashion of the day. But there are a few truths that seem to have settled into their favourite chairs in front of the fireplace with no indication of budging! One of these is to promote our star performers to managers.

Management theory is like hair: it continues to grow and change sometimes depending heavily on the fashion of the day. But there are a few truths that seem to have settled into their favourite chairs in front of the fireplace with no indication of budging! One of these is to promote our star performers to managers.

What we should be doing is an assessment of each individual situation to see if this is in fact the right move for that individual:

  • Do they have the skills required to manage people?
  • Is the fit is right for the team?
  • If it's not, who's to say that the star performer can't be rewarded in other ways?

More money, more leave, the opportunity to work on unique projects or with interesting consultants... There are a myriad of ways we can reward our stars, and not all of them are about title.

Although not a uniquely South African phenomenon, this does appear to be especially prevalent in the South African context where many organisations feel that team members can't be paid more than their superiors. This means that to reward, we need to promote.

I have, for example, seen it happen in the software development sphere where a particularly fantastic developer, who simply oozes code, is moved to team leader much to his (and often the team's ) collective astonishment. He is then performance assessed not on their own productivity, as was the case, but their team's productivity as well. Not being skilled enough to manage people and lacking basic interaction skills - which often come easily to the less technically inclined - the then-developer-now-manager fails to get the best out of his team and so by the organisational standards, he fails miserably. Often, this leads to the person in question leaving and so the company loses a star performer, who really just wanted to code.

We tend to forget that managers are there to facilitate the productivity of the team

Oil the wheels, make their team happy and protect them fiercely. Much like politicians, though, we seem to think that managers are there to be untouchable and unquestioned. When did the servants among us become kings?

The change is hard to make and won't be completed overnight as it takes a cultural and mindset shift from every level of the organisation. Language has to be changed, personal development plans and reward structures have to be amended... the list goes on. But no cultural change is quick and no mindset is easily shifted. But any king worth the name will commit to it because it's the right thing for the company and ultimately their people.


Author: Juliet Newton is a businesswoman, entrepreneur and passionate South African. She is the founder and CEO of learning and development company, Avocado Vision, and built it up to a 31-strong team with an impressive list of corporate clients. Juliet is also the founder of Footprint, which delivers training and skills development to the bottom-of-the-pyramid market, and acts as a founding director of Ngikwazi Field Marketing. She is a regular face on the business speaking circuit, and a prolific business writer for a range of publications. Juliet was also a finalist in the 2011 Shoprite/Checkers Woman of the Year (social business developer category).


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