The best way to lose great employees is to promote the wrong people based on narrow criteria. The President of one of my client companies asked for my help. Women and people of color in his division were leaving and being hired by his competitor.
When I spoke to the vice-president of that division, he complained that people of color and women didn’t think strategically or understand the foundations of business. Therefore he often did not consider them for promotions. He had a fixed idea about what kind of person was strategic and who was not.
- This was not based on experience but on life-long stereotypes and what he heard from people who looked like him. He said he had “no problem” promoting women and people of color if they could just think more like him.
The women and people of color I interviewed said they didn’t see any future or possibility of advancement.
If you don’t think people from certain groups will excel in particular areas, you relegate them to secondary roles and essentially ignore them when they come up with the next revolutionary idea. When someone else makes the same suggestion, that person gets the credit and award.
You’ve bypassed a hidden genius and hopefully they don’t shut down and take their brilliance elsewhere. And you’ve also destroyed diversity because the only people left are people who look like you striving for promotion.
The CEO understood the importance of uncovering hidden genius and the need to remove obstacles. Shortly after calling us in, he removed the vice president.
Solution: Open your eyes, open your mind and learn how different people tackle problems, collaborate and create new systems and processes to get things done in your organization. Develop more objective criteria for promotion that focuses on quality of results and look for undiscovered people who can take your organization to new levels.