Monday, June 16, 2008

High Performer Promotion

It’s no secret that success in business results from attracting and retaining high-caliber people, and then creating an environment where they can establish productive, mutually beneficial relationships with external and internal audiences. This is much easier said than done.

Like most public relations consultancies, Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) has had its struggles with the people issue. The typical agency model is to surround a senior team with a group of more junior-level staffers, requiring everyone to work extended hours in a high-stress environment. We followed this path during much of our 12 year history.

Recently, we’ve made significant changes to our business model which has led us to embrace a number of innovative employee programs, such as a highly flexible work environment and a blended staffing methodology. Everything is predicated on empowering the individual to perform and then holding them accountable for the results they produce for clients.

Something that remains a struggle for me though is when to promote. I am fortunate to have wonderfully talented colleagues who would most likely accelerate their professional development if put in a more advanced position. And I am certainly not a believer in some unwritten tenure requirement. (I launched Strategic when I was 24 years old.)

Yet, it is important to always set people up for success. It’s not fair to them, us or a client to have an employee in a position in which they are destined to struggle.

Jack and Suzy Welch’s recent column in BusinessWeek has me thinking about this issue. Their views on what constitutes superior results and how to evaluate whether an employees’ values align with organizational priorities is a must read for any business owner and employee.

High Performers Won’t Wait

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