Kim Scott Radical Candor podcast

Podcast Episode 17: Promotion Schmomotion

Everyone loves promotions, right? Well…not so fast. Kim and Russ talk about how promotions might be hurting you and your team and suggest some other ways to think about recognizing high performers.

Listen to the episode:

This Episode at a Glance

Promotions, the kind that mean an increase in scope or responsibility, are not always the best way to recognize and reward your top performers. This episode dives into the dangers of promotion obsession for your team.

Kim starts the episode with a story about someone who worked for her, Derek. Derek was a great customer support rep who kept the company’s customers very happy.

Forget about Net Promoter Score. When your customers are sending you baked goods, you know you’re doing something right.

When it came time to hire a leader for the Customer Support team, Kim offered the job to Derek. But he declined; he wasn’t interested in taking on a larger role. Kim wrote Derek off as un-ambitious.

I was sort of writing my own ambitions into his story.

Kim hired someone for the Customer Support who had big ambitions, who wanted to be CEO. Unfortunately, she soon found out that this new leader’s approach didn’t work. It led to Derek’s leaving, the baked goods stopped coming, and the business suffered as a result. Kim and Russ talk about ways to avoid this type of mistake and how you can recognize high performers with different values and ambitions.

Next, Kim and Russ answer a listener question about promoting someone when that promotion would just be a title change. Kim and Russ warn against promotions that pander to people’s egos, remind listeners that people on steep growth trajectories are likely to move on, and emphasize that what those people need is real growth and new challenges. Avoid creating a promotion obsessed culture. Their advice for this listener’s question is to revisit Episode 5: Career Conversations and figure out how to help this high performer develop their skills.

The Candor Checklist

When thinking about promotions, remember to Care Personally and Challenge Directly. Here are some tips you can start with right away:

Tip 1: Learn your team members’ values and dreams.

Tip 2: Offer public recognition or a “guru” role.

Tip 3: Set growth expectations.

For all the details on these tips, listen to the episode!

Related Resources

Read up on some of the background info covered in this episode.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Hello, every episode has been a huge help to me, since I have been tuning in it has helped me to assess my skill level and abilities to be a good manager. The problem is I am not in a position of management at my current job, but every single day I feel like I am an awesome manager trapped in a line staff body!! Lol, #laughingbutnotreallylaughing Episode #17 Promotion Schmomotion has definitely been the icing on the cake of what I need to do to change the conflict I feel with my current job. It was the ultimate lightbulb! Thank you so much for the wisdom you share each week, it really teaches me about myself and I learn more through your podcast than any supervision session I have ever had on my job!!! Keep up the great work.

    1. Hey Sharon!

      Thanks for the note and for the vote of confidence. Also, thanks for the outstanding and hilarious hashtag. FWIW, I’m not too sure I would have a ton of success as an individual contributor, and this might have made a path to management more difficult. I got lucky as a young buck as the Marine Corps screened for leadership potential… so I skipped right to management upon graduation. 24 years later.

      I think often about “what if” I had followed a more traditional route and felt like a “good manager trapped inside a middling individual contributor’s body” (not your words, mine)

      My advice to you is three simple words: Go get it!!

      You are probably right.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *