I'd suggest speaking with your employee, initially praising his or her strengths and accomplishments and noting any areas in which he or she has advanced professionally. I'd then review areas that need improvement.
Give specific examples of the skills he or she needs to develop before being ready to assume the more senior post. Be positive in your approach and provide suggestions about ways in which the staffer can improve.
However, the key thing to do when telling an employee that he or she is not ready for the next step is to encourage and reassure them. Let them know they are on the right track and have great potential. Make sure the employee feels appreciated and knows that if there is improvement in certain areas, he or she will have a good chance of moving up. Otherwise the person will become discouraged and likely start looking for a new job where he or she might be given the higher title they are seeking.
It is also smart to let your employee know that you want to set them up for success and if you promoted them now they would be less likely to succeed.
Jane Waldman is president of Waldman & Co. Executive Search.
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