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Did You Promote The Wrong Person?

A recent Gallup survey examining 27 million employees led by 2.5 million managers spread out in 197 countries has found that only one person in ten can cut it in management. Genuine management talent is rare.

The entire report is a damning indictment of several aspects of executive management, the most primary of which is the complete lack of ability of decision makers within organizations and their Human Resources departments to select the right people with the right natural talents to perform well in a managerial role.

Most CEOs I know honestly don’t care about employees or take an interest in human resources. Sure, they know who their stars are and love them — but it ends there. Since CEOs don’t care, they put little to no pressure on their HR departments to get their cultures right, which allows HR to unwittingly implement all kinds of development and succession strategies that don’t work. ~ Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO, Gallup 

Gallup says that companies put the wrong people into management positions a whopping 82% of the time.  

— WHY? — 

  • Companies (read: executives) hire people just like themselves, potentially perpetuating the problem
  • Companies assume successes will continue if the candidate was successful in a lesser role
  • Companies tend to pick the “safe” choice politically (more than once I’ve heard “that isn’t a hill I want to die on”)
  • Companies promote people into management positions because “it was their turn”
  • Companies reward loyalty and/or tenure with promotions into management
  • Companies hire or promote people into management positions based on their connections

Is it any wonder why organizations promote the wrong people 82% of the time? Right now, you’re probably thinking of a few people who were promoted based on the above criteria … and four out of five times it didn’t turn out well.

The Implications of a Wrong Management Hire

Gallup estimated the costs to the US economy alone at over $300 billion and some estimates go as high as $500 billion.

Great, top performing managers constantly engage their teams, taking the organization’s goals and directives to make them actionable at a local level. Great managers inspire superior performance while mediocre managers cost companies time, money, customers, market share, innovation, ideas, and opportunities.

So what DOES make a top performing manager? 

There is a unique combination of five NATURAL qualities that makes a great manager:

  1. They have a unique ability to motivate employees
  2. They overcome obstacles by being assertive
  3. They cultivate an accountability culture
  4. They build relationships built on trust
  5. They make educated and unbiased decisions based on the company’s best interest … regardless of the political implications.

True ‘talent’ is innate. It’s a natural capacity to perform at a level higher than others, seeing beyond the horizon, and understanding the what-why-how things work. People CAN become competent in certain skills and acquire the knowledge necessary to perform. They can gain years and years of experiences in a certain area … but they cannot acquire innate, intrinsic talent.

Those managers with the natural talents to be top performers think differently than their peers. They act differently, make better, more nuanced decisions, and are energized by their work. Monday, in many cases, is their favorite day of the week.

For those who don’t have the talent and more specifically, for those who have not been properly matched to their position using TTI’s validated Job Benchmarking and Matching System tend to find work draining rather than energizing. They can’t wait for 5:00pm.

The companies and organizations that fail to identify talent usually find themselves significantly underperforming in their industry and it’s because their managers and other employees have not been properly matched to their positions.

All Things Being Equal

An organization can communicate expectations to managers as clearly as possible, provide the exact same information, tools, and resources, teach them all the same skills, provide the same knowledge, and even put them in the same work environments, but without properly and skillfully identifying talent, the organization will find a few high performers, a large middle-of-the-pack group of performers, and some dismally low group of performers.

Why? Some have the natural talent to be a top performing manager … and some do not.

Those that do not aren’t “bad” people, they’ve just been miscast in their role.


How many in your company have a management title?

Research by the Gallup organization further found that in addition to the one in 10 people with natural management talent, another two in 10 have some characteristics of functional managerial talent. With that talent and skills, these 20% can perform at a high level *IF* their company provides the proper support through coaching and mentoring. Authentic management talent probably is working at your company today but it hasn’t been properly developed.

What steps are you taking to identify that talent and separate it from the remaining 70% that are just dialing it in?

Companies that use predictive analytics and intense development techniques will have a profound advantage over those who rely on “trusting their gut” or on a management candidate’s previous accomplishments and experience.

The Next Step

This is a call to action. What you do after reading an article like this says a lot about your personal initiative and drive to make a difference.

The right process of manager identification makes a massive difference in the companies we’ve worked with. Can we make that same difference in your company? There’s only one way to find out.





  1. That’s an expert answer to an interesting question

  2. Vivi,Boa noite!Estou organizando a festinha da minha filhota , 1 ano, e infelizmente só agora conheci seu trabalho…uma pena mas, com certeza vc fará parte da nossa história nas próximas comemorações!mas, ainda acho que pode me ajudar…é sobre os sucos da QUITANDA FÀCIL que relatou ter feito uma festa que eles estvam servindo, o que achou?Grata,Parabéns pelo trabalho!Renata.

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