Don’t pick them until they’re ripe

Recently, one of my brightest (and youngest) managers was offered a promotion into an executive-committee position at another hotel in our group. Her direct supervisor and I told her we could not support her taking the job because she simply wasn’t ready for it. She needed more “seasoning” before taking the next step in her career. 

Initially, and understandably, she was very disappointed we wouldn’t support her move. After some time and further conversations with us, she realized we were motivated by our desire for her to succeed, not just get promoted. This led to developing, together with her, a set of training targets to complete over the next year or so, at which point we’d be comfortable in supporting her promotion to another property.

I’m familiar with the “sink or swim” philosophy on promoting people — that they may struggle at first but eventually figure things out and do well. I’ve also heard stories about those who got the “big” promotion, couldn’t handle the added responsibilities, burned out and left the industry. 

It’s probably true that our industry needs more smart and enthusiastic young managers than we are currently preparing for the future. With hotel companies expanding, the demand for management staff is also growing, and there can be pressure to promote people before they are fully ready for the next step. In my view, promoting too soon not only leads to diminished operating results but could, more importantly, de-rail someone’s hospitality career.

What has been your experience as you climbed the career ladder?