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Cascading Leadership Series – More Money, More Problems—Are They Ready?

Posted by Amy Lynch on January 11, 2024

Time span—you gotta get this right. We talked last week about the importance of an employee’s ability to stay on task and work unsupervised into the future—what Elliot Jacque calls “time span.” 

Know someone’s time span before you promote or give out more responsibility!

Ask them personal, open questions. Do they have any plans for the weekend or any books they are reading? Do they have a vacation planned this summer? If they respond, “Yes, my family and I are planning a camping trip upstate in July.” Then, you know that person has a longer time span—they might be a good candidate for more independence and responsibility on the job. On the other hand, if they don’t have any plans, that might indicate a lower time span.

If you determine they have the time span to move up, see if they can be trained to perform at the next level. Let them practice the job without the title.

I tell them, “You must give a raise in your performance before you get a raise in your pay. Not the other way around.” No harm is done if they try a few projects as a lead, and then you or they decide this promotion won’t be a good fit. 

What do you do when you get it wrong? 

We must take action when we discover that we have the wrong people in the wrong positions. Moving people down after you have promoted them is tricky and rarely works. If a change needs to be made and someone needs to be demoted or terminated, consider it carefully, discuss it with your management team, and take action quickly. Remember to do it in a friendly way. 

Sometimes, people think they want to move up, but really, they want more money, benefits, or perks. They don’t actually want to do the next job up! Also, they may not even be capable. It’s best to meet them where they are.

There’s nothing wrong if someone has a lower time span; it just means we can’t put them in situations that require long-term planning. We all need those worker bees, so give them praise and respect, but not a promotion! That is good leadership. 

Master time span = build muscle. See you next week!

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