Most businesses have a mix of employees with different levels of potential.

The key is for management to identify employees with the core skills, the right attitude and drive to take on more responsibilities. They should be willing and ready to step up for short-term positions or projects with minimal coercion.

Use these short-term positions and projects as a trial to create a pool of tried and tested future leaders. Importantly this trial also helps de-risk your business from promoting unsuitable employees.

The process of promoting employees can be a double-edged sword. Promote too soon, and you risk asking an employee to perform tasks outside their current ability level, leading to demotivation and even resignation. 

However, wait too long, and talented employees will not be noticed and seek career advancement opportunities elsewhere.

So how can managers know when an employee is ready for a promotion?

1. Notice Employees Who Ask For More Responsibility

If you have employees asking for more responsibility, this is a great sign they feel ready and motivated to step up. 

However, just because they ask doesn't mean they are ready for more responsibility. Therefore, management must carefully consider how much and how quickly to give an employee during their trial and then watch how the employee performs.

2. People Skills

You can teach most technical skills to anyone with the right attitude and eagerness to learn. However, people skills are different. 

Whilst you can nurture people skills over time, some employees naturally have strong people skills. They can communicate well with different people and help keep teams happy and motivated. 

Keep an eye out for these employees, as they will likely be future leaders.

3. Great in Crisis

Even the best-run business has moments of crisis. Customer complaints, technical issues, supplier errors: concerns can come in many forms. 

Some employees will freak out at these moments and need a calm leader to help set them in the right direction. 

Others will naturally appear to take charge and lead the team to safer waters. Employees that are calm and collected at these times are likely candidates for promotional opportunities.

4. Crave Feedback

High potential employees love feedback, be it good or bad. They want to grow, learn, improve and understand how they can help the business. 

Suppose you notice employees who proactively ask for feedback and are more engaged when conducting performance reviews; this is a great sign they have potential.

5. You Trust Them

Good managers have a sixth sense of employees they can trust with complex tasks or responsibilities. 

If you trust them and they continue to deserve this, you will sleep well at night knowing they can handle more responsibilities.

6. They're Willing to Stay Back

An employee who chooses to work back from time to time without expecting an extra reward is a massive signal of their commitment and will do whatever it takes to help complete the task and ensure the company succeeds.

7. Self Management

Employees that can manage themselves are likely to have the core abilities required to handle others. 

Autonomy is an excellent sign of potential if you don't need to micromanage their daily performance and trust them to use their initiative to get tasks done.

8. Proactive Learners

Employees who consistently try to improve their skillset and are genuinely interested in staying on top of new industry technology are proactive learners. 

These types of people will help lead your team to victory and keep in touch with your customers and industry.

9. Sixth Sense & Educated Decisions

Completing a job or task is one thing; however, being able to read situations, acknowledge sentiment or voice gut feelings are star attributes in leaders. But only if they can then make educated decisions and act accordingly. 

Watch for employees that seek out definitive answers from these sixth senses. But, on the other hand, you don't want to promote a reactive employee who acts on a rumour or every suggestion thrown their way.

Instead, a valuable employee should explore the issue, search out truth, fact or value vs rumour, and then address the situation to find a suggested solution.

10. Seek Support When Needed

Knowing when to ask for assistance and not wasting too much time trying to work it out is when a manager knows it's time to call for support or expert advice. 

Look for staff that ask you for support in practical situations and promptly. Then observe; did they learn from the support provided, or did they come up against a similar problem and need help again. 

Management should always be looking for talent in their workforce to identify those who are ready to step up so that, whenever possible, promotions can happen internally. 

Internal promotion builds a better business from the inside out and results in long-term employees that feel valued and appreciated.

The tips above will help you know what to look out for in your employees and get the timing right to ensure high performers are rewarded and can see they can potentially have a long-term career path. For more helpful reading, check out this post on when and how to promote your employees.

Check out our blog for more management tips and product updates.

Important Notice

The information contained in this article is general in nature and you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs. Legal and other matters referred to in this article are of a general nature only and are based on RosterElf's interpretation of laws existing at the time and should not be relied on in place of professional advice.

RosterElf is not responsible for the content of any site owned by a third party that may be linked to this article and no warranty is made by us concerning the suitability, accuracy or timeliness of the content of any site that may be linked to this article.

RosterElf disclaims all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded) for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information contained in this article and any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.