It was a cold winter morning. After leaving my daughters at school, I drove to the office. I wanted to avoid heavy traffic, so I took a secondary street. Later on, the traffic stopped due to an accident about a half block ahead. After a few minutes and realizing that it was not going to be solved quickly, I started to signal the cars behind me to go backward, a task that appeared easy given that there were only three cars to the corner.
I saw through my car’s rearview mirror that one of the drivers was having a tough moment moving backward, he just could not maneuver his amazing 4×4 truck, turning and avoiding parked cars at the same time. After some minutes, I was able to leave the traffic jam, while the truck’s driver was still trying to maneuver.
In the office, I was still thinking about how nice and new that truck was… and big too. I have thought a lot about how nice it would be to drive a car bigger and larger than mine, with a better front view and without worrying about other drivers crossing their vehicles in front of me. But I never thought about that situation, could I drive that kind of monster? It seems to be a widespread problem: seeing the benefits without taking into account the responsibilities, or simply the abilities needed to accomplish something. It is possible that the cited driver has been using his truck for weeks without any kind of problems and, if he hadn’t been in that situation, he could have followed for many more weeks driving without issues, as far as he was driving forward or only parking on his private, jumbo size lot.
At work, many people try to get higher responsibilities, seeing that they can do their jobs very well. And probably, they can obtain those promotions they were looking for. Moreover, they can perform very well once promoted. Of course, as long as they work in a favorable environment and “drive forward.”
The real suitable people are seen when problems arise, and this can happen anytime… or never. Thus, there is even the possibility that someone may be promoted several times before that “moment of truth.”
Sadly, it is very difficult to verify in advance someone’s abilities under a heavy storm. Corporations do not have a “test drive” available for those cases. You can do tests or simulations, and not fully know how he/she will perform at that moment. And, in most of the cases, there is no chance to get back from a promotion. It is a one-way trip, a kind of “up or out”.
Some companies apply “horizontal rotation” as a career path before promoting (vertical movement) an employee. This is, switch peer’s roles (when possible) in order to force them to work under different environments and needs. This will reduce the risk for both, company and employee before a promotion takes place. Sometimes at the office, we see someone that does their job with no evident effort. Then, most of us, tend to qualify that job as easy, so the employee is immediately tagged as lazy, or we tend to think that he is overpaid. But reality and perceptions can go in very different ways.
It is very difficult to experience someone else’s job and be in their shoes. Some companies have specific HR programs where the employees can do the work of other colleagues just for one day. Although it is not the same since they are not going to carry on with the same responsibilities, it can give a taste of the difficulties that we can’t see about other’s jobs, mostly because the people in these positions are really good at what they do, so the work seems to “flow” around them.
This kind of initiatives reduce misperceptions about other people’s jobs and on the other hand, it will reduce the performance uncertainty when a promotion takes place.
As managers, we are the closest company’s representatives to the people who is trying to get a promotion. So, we are who know them better. Their corporate and professional life falls on our shoulders and is our responsibility to advise our people if we think they are not ready and help them.
At Intraway, we proposed to “Build the Best Team”. We make a huge effort to hire only the best talents, and then take care of them as our only asset, giving them the best place to work, world-class facilities, workstations in a friendly and cooperative environment that we all can “Enjoy the Ride”. We usually say “the right people in the right seats”.
The same idea applies to ourselves: the grass of our neighbor is always greener than ours, but we can be blind to all the effort he makes and the problems he solved in order to give his grass this “English green”.
It belongs to all humans to try to be better every day, but trying to manage something bigger that what we can handle could be stressing and frustrating for ourselves and for those who work with us.