The article was published in The Globe and Mail on 28 March, 2021.


One of my direct reports has been trying to get a promotion to a management role for years. He does well in his current role and meets expectations, but I don’t see his potential for a leadership position. He gets frustrated easily and does not take criticism well. He has worked under me for three years so I’m not confident about the potential for change. My colleagues in management and HR, who also have worked with this employee, agree with me. Honestly, I think his best chances at becoming a manager are starting fresh with a new company and working his way up there. Should I say something to him? What’s the best way for me to navigate this situation as his supervisor?


Promoting someone or not is a tough call every leader must make at some point. Concern about your employee’s easy frustration and susceptibility to criticism is legitimate. Indeed, this is not characteristic of effective leaders. But the person starting with a new company and not knowing his blind spots could be counterproductive.

You must have an honest conversation with him to help him discover the impact of his attitude on others, and how to transform for his own good.

Here is what I suggest:

1. Start by praising what he brought to the company and his value for the team. Say what you like about him, especially his strengths. Be specific and give concrete examples. Such a conversation is empowering.

2. Show you want to help him with his career and ask why he wants to become a manager. Is his why bigger than a better paycheck or new job title? You might discover someone who is passionate and will do everything to reach his goal.

3. We all make mistakes. Be authentic and talk about your own before providing constructive feedback about his temperament. The key is not to disempower him. What was the impact of your mistakes on coworkers or employees? Did someone resign or complain? Tell him this, then share your constructive feedback about him. Be specific and suggest ways to improve. Together, you could decide he needs to work with a professional coach or do something else.

Effective leaders always try everything to help their employees grow.

Carine Lacroix

Carine Lacroix

Carine Lacroix is founder and CEO of Reneshone, an Oakville-based HR company powered by facts and data which focuses on employee engagement for organizations of 5-3,000 employees.