The Coaching Effect Blog

Read This Before Promoting Your Top Performer

Posted by Will Kloefkorn

September 9, 2019

Will Kloefkorn“We know it’s not the smartest thing to do, but we promote our high performing salespeople into management roles.”

In the words of the infamous Bob Newhart, STOP IT! Everybody knows that this “worst practice” needs to stop, but almost everyone continues to abide by it. Why? Call it laziness or call it lack of discipline, but no matter how you slice it, promoting a great salesperson, or team member, into a management role that does not have both the skill and will to be a high-performing coach has huge implications.


The cost of turning over a sales leader is roughly 2x their annual salary. This is not chump change. The bigger cost is not only are you putting your top performer in a role that they will not thrive, negating their top performer status and productivity, but in doing so you are marginalizing the effectiveness of their team because they are now void a great coach. You are killing two birds with one stone in the worst way possible.

Does this mean that high performers can’t become great coaches?

No, it doesn’t, but it does mean that you should put a lot of thought and rigor into the decision about promoting great salespeople into management roles. Below are two items you can consider implementing:

1) Create an Emerging Leadership Experience

This idea comes directly from one of our amazing clients at EcSell. This organization created a program for their aspiring leaders in the company to experience what it feels like to be a leader before formally stepping foot into the role. The experience includes a week-long development course where they learn about all things management, leadership, and coaching. Everything from P&Ls to what it takes to be a great coach is covered during the week.

More importantly, on the back end of the development week the aspiring leaders must build leadership execution into their own individual development plans. In short, every leader in this organization is given the chance to become self aware and experience what a leadership role can feel like before accepting the critical responsibility of leading a team of individuals whose livelihoods are counting on them to be exceptional.

2) Identify Leadership Behaviors and Analyze

This is a good option if you’re not willing (or able) to design and execute an Emerging Leadership Experience. If you are considering promoting someone into a leadership role, an effective yet simple best practice is simply analyzing their day to day behavior before they step into the role. Check out this observation screener from our great partners at Talent Plus or download the checklist below.

Promoting the right leader is not an easy task. It requires process and discipline. At times, it will require helping somebody self identify that they are more suited for, and will be happier in, their producer role. By implementing one of the two best practices above, you will help ensure you get it right more often than not. 

For a simple approach to deciding if management is right for you or someone from within your organization, get this checklist to decide if it's a good fit. 

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Topics: Leadership Lessons

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