Whether you are determining who to promote at the end of the year or creating a leadership development/training program or strategy, the most critical task is selecting the right employees. Your organization wants to be sure that it trains, develops, and promotes employees that are the most likely to succeed in leadership roles. We’ve developed a short checklist you can use to select employees for promotions or participation in a leadership development program.
1. Are they a top performer?
Participants in your leadership development program should be your top performers. If employees can’t perform well in their current role, they likely won’t perform well at the next level. That being said, know the attributes and characteristics of your top performers throughout the organization and at every level.
Understanding what defines a top performer at the entry, mid, manager, and leadership levels will help make selecting the right employees that much easier.
Keep in mind, however, that just because the individual may be a top performer, doesn’t automatically mean they have potential for a leadership position.
2. Do they have potential…and for what?
Next you should ask yourself if this employee has potential for a position besides their current role and for what specifically. There are several different types of potential and classifying employees into different levels of potential helps determine the level of potential the employee has – such as the ability to move laterally, one level up, or multiple levels up.
It also helps prioritize who your organization should develop, into what roles, and the promotions for which they should be considered. Consider these levels as an example:
- No potential: The employee performs well in their current role, but does not have potential to move laterally or upward.
- Lateral potential: The employee is able to move into other positions at same level.
- Potential: The employee could be promoted within 2-3 years to the next level, such as a manager or supervisor.
- High potential: The employee could be promoted within less than 1 year or make multiple moves upward in the next 5 years. The employee has the level of potential to be promoted at least two levels beyond their current level to a leadership or top management role.
3. Do they have the requisite knowledge and ability?
In order to create a leadership development program, you need to determine what employees already know. Make a list of the required knowledge and abilities. Evaluate employees’ education level, training history, experience, and job knowledge as well as the knowledge requirements of the role for which they are being considered.
Compare the abilities they have already demonstrated on the job and the abilities they need to perform in a different or higher role in the organization.
If employees have too many knowledge and ability gaps, they may not be the right candidates for leadership development unless they have tremendous learning agility.
4. Do they have the desire and ability to learn?
Ideal candidates for leadership development show an openness to learn and change their behavior over time. They also are able to receive constructive feedback and coaching and use it to grow their skills.
They seek opportunities to develop their knowledge and abilities, often without being encouraged or told to do so and use challenges and setbacks as learning tools.
Finally, they have the capacity to learn concepts quickly, fit those concepts together, and apply them to their work.
5. Are their motives and interests aligned?
Not all employees want higher positions. Some of your top performers may have already reached their potential and are satisfied with their current positions and achievements. Likewise, some employees may want to advance their career for the wrong reasons.
Those that desire merely status, authority, and more compensation generally don’t have the right motives for leadership, whereas those that seek to develop others and serve the mission of the organization may be better candidates. Be mindful of both employees’ motives and interests when selecting them for leadership development.
6. Are they well-respected by others and considered team-players?
Consider how respected and liked the employees are within the organization by their coworkers, supervisor, and other individuals.
Employees need not be everyone’s best-friend, but they must be individuals that can develop positive relationships with other employees and are team-players that others respect and trust. If they aren’t, they may have difficulties in a future leadership role when relationship building and maintenance is crucial to their success.
7. Do they have courage?
Lastly, the best employees for promotions and leadership development have courage – to take risks, think outside the box, overcome obstacles, and challenge their fellow employees to push and develop themselves. These employees have a “do whatever it takes” mindset and are committed to taking the organization to new levels.
By not spending adequate time evaluating your candidates for promotions or leadership development initiatives at least by these basic criteria, you may be wasting resources on the wrong people. Before your organization decides to send your employee to leadership development or promote them to a new role, be sure to use this checklist.
Leadership Development Training
ERC offers a variety of leadership development training programs at all levels of the organization, from senior leadership teams to mid-level managers to first time managers and supervisors.