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We all know the game – we studied it in university, we hear management gurus spew it, we practice it on the job and seen it in action in every organization in the private and public sectors, and whether religious, charitable or non-governmental.

Performance based promotions. The foundation is meritocratic and its allure, seductive.

Therein lays all the problems of incompetence, failures and employment terminations.

Let us assume, an employee, John Typical, joins a company with the following hierarchy: Sales Executive > Senior Sales Executive > Sales Manager > Sales Director.

John Typical meets targets set at Sales Executive level. The organization promotes him. He meets targets set at Senior Sales Executive level and he is again promoted, to Sales Manager. He meets KPIs set and does an excellent job. Management promotes John Typical to Sales Director.

Every step of the way, past performance at a junior level, propels John Typical’s promotion to a higher level. Each level comes with added responsibility and authority over an increasing number of direct reports. The assumption here is, because he did well at a certain level, he would do well at the next.

However, as every high jumper knows, it’s simply a question of time before the bar drops.


Image Credit @ Reuters

When John Typical, now Sales Director, fails to deliver, he is demoralized, sidelined by his management or worse – demoted and perhaps even asked to resign.

The organization just lost a good employee – no, not a sales director, but an excellent Sales Manager!

The loss of talent and experience to the organization is great, and the toll on the employee’s self-worth and dignity, incalculable.

Notwithstanding these obvious pitfalls, most organizations, including brand name MNCs, go down this path. This is a case of hitting the same button on the keyboard in the mindless quest to gain a different outcome.

What then is the solution?

Look out for the next post.

————————- Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2016 —————————–