Don’t Be a Bottleneck to Employee Advancement

Create open avenues for growth and make it known that driven employees will be rewarded

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If you want your business to outlast you, you’ll need to put a succession plan in place. But for any succession plan to be viable, it’s important to recognize employees who have high leadership potential, elevating them to roles where they can prove their mettle.

The problem that many business owners have is that they are effectively bottlenecks to employee advancement, making it challenging for even the best employees to demonstrate their capabilities. Compounding the problem is the fact that most leaders who are bottlenecks don’t even realize it.

Are You a Bottleneck Leader?

There are a number of telltale signs that may suggest a bottleneck leadership style. For example, you may be a bottleneck leader if:

  • Your business simply won’t run without your constant involvement.
  • You have an overstuffed schedule that leaves little or no time for employee development.
  • Your customers require a lot of one-on-one attention from you in order to feel special or appreciated.
  • Your most talented employees feel like they are not sufficiently challenged, engaged, or empowered to make decisions on their own.

If you check any of these boxes, there’s a decent chance you have a leadership style that’s holding back your team and undercutting your long-term succession planning.

Empowering Employees to Thrive

The good news is, it’s never too late to change your leadership style, empowering high performers to advance. Here are a few steps to consider.

Identify Your Top Talents

Before you do anything else, you’ll need to know exactly who those high performers are. You probably have an intuitive sense of the high performers on your team. Start thinking about those employees in terms of two different roles: The one they have now, and the one you can envision them getting in the future. Look for opportunities to provide training and development that will stretch them and prepare them for more advanced responsibilities.

Delegate Repeatable Tasks

Take some time to write down all the roles and duties you fulfill each day, each week, and each month. Then divide them into two categories: Things that directly add revenue, and things that don’t. Any task that isn’t revenue-driving can likely be delegated to an employee. And once you get that employee to a place where they can complete the task without issue, you should erase it from your list of duties altogether; trust the employee to whom you’ve delegated, without feeling like you need to micromanage.

Set Benchmarks

As you begin delegating more and more tasks, keep tabs on your revenues, client retention, employee engagement, and other metrics that matter to you. Be aware that, at first, you may see some dropoff as your employees adjust to new ways of doing things. Over the long term, though, you should see an upward trajectory. 

Put Employees on the Path to Advancement

Your most driven employees will crave opportunities for career advancement — and if you want your business to last, you’ll need to provide those opportunities. Be aware of any bottleneck tendencies in your leadership style and seek opportunities to let your top talents shine.


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