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5 Signs Your Employee Is in Dire Need of a Promotion Star performers won't be happy too long doing the same-old same-old at your company.

By Jeff Boss Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Having that one all-star employee is a life saver when your calendar begins to bulge at the seams. Star performers are "stars" because they pick up what you forget to put down, they read what slips your mind to write, and they generally save your butt from further butt-chewing.

Unfortunately, it's only a matter of time before these workplace studs get promoted and leave you, their manager, with either A) a newbie who may or may not have potential or B) all alone with nothing to show except overwhelm.

Related: 8 Subtle but Practical Ways to Promote Yourself at Work

The bottom line is this: it's not easy setting a workplace stallion free from your reins. After all, corporate workhorses are the equivalent of the latest toy that everyone wants to have because they get things done. They're the go-to for project tasking, decisions, feedback and happy hour -- I mean, "stress management." Everybody needs a partner in crime, right?

While everybody enjoys feeling important and knowing that their efforts make an impact, holding on to your stud too long can have negative impacts if he or she doesn't get the growth opportunities he or she seeks.

So how do you know when it's time to let your employee move onward and upward? These five behaviors are clear signs of someone in dire need of a promotion.

1. They only complain 'up.'

One of my team leaders in the Navy SEAL Teams said something one time that I'll always remember, "Complaints go up (the chain of command), not down."

How you show up as a leader directly impacts those around you. Star performers know this, so when you see your A player put on her smiley face around direct reports and only raise concerns with you, it's a clear signal she's aware of herself, her environment and the interplay between the two.

2. They find solutions.

Along similar lines, a top performer sustains his pole position because he does just that -- he performs. Consistently. To perform is to execute a communique, a task a decision. While everyone complains at some point, it's the A players who quell time-wasting complaints by posing potential solutions.

Related: Looking to Make a Leadership Leap? 4 Tips for Considering Your Next Career Steps.

3. They hold their peers accountable.

Holding direct reports accountable is one thing, since they report to you because they presume you will monitor their efforts and challenge their ideas. In other words, judgment is expected.

Holding peers accountable, however, isn't so easy, because now the scope of judgment is on equal ground. One behavior that distinguishes extraordinary employees from the ordinary is a relentless pursuit of peer accountability. A little bit of "extra" always goes a long way, so when you see this in an employee, it's time for greater leadership responsibilities.

4. They shift their thinking from 'me' to 'we.'

The words we use indicate where our focus lies. The next time you're in a conversation with someone, for instance, pay attention to how often that person begins sentences using the word "I." Leading with "I" is a clear indication of just how much "me" is on that person's mind.

One caveat: this is not to say that leading with "I" is always a bad thing. It's when that person consistently turns the conversation back onto herself that indicates myopic thinking.

5. They outperform their peers.

There was an episode of Seinfeld where Kramer signed up for a karate class and proudly boasted about how he dominated the dojo. Jerry was shocked at Kramer's newfound talent, until he learned that Kramer's "peers" were 5-year-olds because he had signed up for the kiddie class. If you have an employee who's at the top of her food chain and continually runs circles around her peers, it's time to move her on up.

How do you know when it's time for promotion?

Related: 4 Things Leaders Aren't Doing But Should to Increase Employee Satisfaction

Jeff Boss

Leadership Team Coach, Author, Speaker

Jeff Boss is the author of two books, team leadership coach and former 13-year Navy SEAL where his top awards included four Bronze Stars with valor and two Purple Hearts. Visit him online at

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