Who should be promoted- Star Performer or Team Player?
Published in THE HINDU Opportunities on May 23rd, 2012
Link to online article
Arun is the Head of Sales of a reputed consumer goods company and is faced with a challenging decision. It is that time of the year when he has to make his recommendation to his superior regarding promotions in his team. Kirti is a star performer in the group as he has excellent sales numbers for the year and consistently delivers quality work. Raj, on the other hand, has reasonable sales numbers and is known for being a team player, as he takes initiative; works well with challenging tasks and multiple personalities and is the key contributor for the group's success.
As a manager, Arun is faced with making that critical decision. Who should be promote - the Star Performer or the Team Player?
Most managers often face this kind of a dilemma and on a traditional approach, go with an impromptu decision to promote the star performer.
The practice of promoting someone simply based on performance metrics needs to be looked at closely. At first glance, it seems that promoting the star performer seems to be reasonable, the logical choice. If they are hard-working and produce outstanding results in comparison to their peers, shouldn't they be rewarded with a higher position in the corporate ladder?
Here are some tips on how managers can reassess their promotion practices in the workplace.
Most managers take into account the employee's existing performance on the job and make this the sole deciding factor in promotion decisions.
A star performer can be great at what he or she does, but do they have what it takes to succeed in the higher level position is a vital question that every manager can ask themselves before they arrive at a final decision. Hence, it is important to look beyond what the star performer has currently contributed and think about the skills they possess in order to make it to the next level. And, the same principle holds true for the team player, as well.
Does your team player possess the skills and abilities to be able to expand to a senior position? This can best be gauged by a manager by appraising the incumbent's technical skills, interpersonal and soft skills, time management skills, analytical thinking and the ability to handle the responsibilities that come with the new role.
Managing is not for all
There are times when your star performer is content with their current role and isn't interested in getting promoted to being a manager. Managing is not for all and some star performers, in fact, prefer to be individual contributors or star employees working hard to deliver results, instead of dealing with administrative responsibilities and supervision aspects associated with a manager's position.
The key is to find out if your star performer is motivated and challenged in his existing role and continue to reward them for their exemplary work with monetary benefits and also come up with innovative ways on developing a technical career path for them as opposed to grooming them for higher level management positions. In contrast, your team player who has already demonstrated his or her ability to work with multiple personalities and also pulls together the team towards project completion may have the leadership skills necessary to thrive with the manager's role.
Think about your team
As a manager, when you make a promotion decision, think about the effect it will have on the rest of your team. When a star performer gets promoted, it not only leaves the team with a void that is hard to fill, but also leaves the employee the awkward task of working over his peers, instead of working by their side. This may result in conflicting situations that may lead to poor morale and decreased productivity. Also, star performers often have a tendency to focus on themselves and are driven to prove and succeed as individuals shaping the company's financial growth. In comparison, when a team player gets promoted, he is more attuned to identifying and extorting the strengths of his peers and will be more adept at handling sensitive issues that arise from situations that will make a difference to the bottom line.
Robert Hosking, executive director of Office Team says, “Being a strong individual contributor does not necessarily equate to being an effective leader. The most successful bosses excel at motivating others to achieve great results.”
Lastly, keep in mind that a promotion decision within your team is in line with your company's culture and philosophy. The choice of promoting a team player over a star performer will send a message to the rest of your employees that you don't just value stellar performance, but also take into consideration other factors such as flexibility, the ability to work well with others and that as a team player you are vested in the company's success and not just trying to advance your own personal goals.