Believe it or not, this post was not necessarily motivated by the fact we are knee-deep into the greatness that is football season. Timing is right, however, for this particular message.
Be careful you don’t out-kick your coverage. Or at the very least know going in that it’s a high “risk vs. reward” situation. I’m going to assume that there is a percentage of people who are unfamiliar with this term; it’s a football term that somehow translates to a “dude-ism” when you see a guy who landed a woman that seems way out of his league, i.e. “That dude out-kicked his coverage.”
A bit of a spontaneous post here as the professional application of this idiom hit me between the eyes this week.
Something as ordinary as an internal promotion, when you “out-kick your coverage,” the impact can be costly to a company – and potentially devastating to the promoted individual. You’re probably familiar with this mainly in sales management – a premier sales representative is thrust into a role of people management, and soon struggles with the new administrative and “baby-sitting” duties that don’t really sit in their wheelhouse. Six months later you have a sales territory that misses the awesome rep, a former rep who is overwhelmed & disengaged with his/her “promotion,” and the company loses on both sides of the coin. While sales is the most obvious example, I’ve seen the same thing in recruiting ~ managing a requisition load is a talent requiring a certain set of skills. But those skills, when thrust into a larger role can expose leaks quickly. I’ve seen more than one really good recruiter spit the bit when put into a role that required them to drive the action, rather than waiting for the requisitions to initiate work. There’s a big difference between receiving a signal to “GO” vs. planning the direction, speed, and destination.
And what’s more, this situation will become less isolated going forward ~ this dynamic is going to happen more often in companies if you interpret the findings from a ManpowerGroup 2015 survey, as people are thrust into “stretch” assignments to accommodate a dearth of qualified external candidates. Advancement opportunities are being looked at as internal opportunities first; “employers are looking inside their organizations for solutions, with more than half choosing to develop and train their own people.” [thanks to Hunt-Scanlon for the share] But how?
The easy solution [at least to those of us who don’t have to pay for it] is to recommend more comprehensive training and development for your people destined for promotion. There are any number of wonderful programs that are more than happy to take your money. Training expenditures in 2015 took a steep climb (up 29%+), but we’re relying on other people to do it for us. Overall spend is up while internal training payroll is down considerably. Is that going to fill the “gap” in skills? Maybe, but what about tactical experience? We’ve all taken some pretty ambitious training on important concepts, but for someone about to be thrown into the tempest, the training needs to come from you.
You have opportunities every day to develop your people in what really matters – TCB. Lacking a budget for developing your people? Howdy, welcome to the club…time for you to embrace the concept of delegation. There has yet to be a better method for teaching responsibility than by giving responsibility. Aren’t we all “working” managers now, with more than enough to handle? Carve out a piece and give it away before someone is promoted. If you want to develop leaders, give them a chance to lead in a limited scope before handing over the keys.
As managers, we’re asking for people to assume bigger, broader, more important roles in the company but we aren’t necessarily preparing them to be successful. We’re just kicking the ball as far as we can and hoping for the best.
Let go, give space, allow mistakes, and teach by real-life example. You offer your people a stake in the outcome, i.e. “you are accountable for the outcome,” and you give the greatest gift of all – ownership.
No fair catches allowed.