What does It Mean to be Groomed for a Job?

Michael Pollick

There are far worse fates in the business world than being groomed for a job. Generally speaking, whenever a junior executive or an heir to the family business demonstrates significant potential for future advancement, he or she may be taken under the wing of a senior executive and given special attention. Someone who is fortunate enough to be groomed for a job usually understands the level of company loyalty and years of dedicated service the position will require. If the saying "Many are called, but few are chosen," is true, then someone who is being groomed for a job has definitely been chosen. This is not a business relationship to be taken lightly, similar to the sempai/kosai partnerships formed between senior and junior executives in Japanese business culture.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

Someone who is being groomed for a job is often required to learn the business from the ground up, starting with entry-level positions and ending at the executive offices. This is markedly different from the usual practice of hiring a person for a specific position according to skill or experience. A person being groomed for an executive position may not have the prerequisite skills for certain positions, but he or she is expected to learn what it takes to perform the job full-time. Many family-owned companies strongly believe that heirs should know what it's like to work in the manufacturing plant or the central office cubicles. It is hoped that the person being groomed for a supervisory or executive position would develop some empathy for his or her future employees by experiencing their jobs first-hand.

A person being groomed for a job often spends many hours observing the current position holder's daily routine, as well as asking specific questions about job duties and expectations. The grooming process for a high-level executive position or upper managerial appointment is commonly measured in years, not months. A senior executive may decide not to retire or change careers until he or she is satisfied a properly groomed replacement has been found. Even after the new executive or manager has assumed his or her new duties, it would not be unusual for other senior executives to maintain unofficial supervisory roles until the groomed candidate has have an opportunity to prove his or her competency.

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Discussion Comments


Though I've never learned about a business from the ground up, one thing I really appreciate about the article is that it gives you tips on ways to improve over the last person who owned the business. After all, no one is perfect, and when teaching you, they might even give tips on how to avoid mistakes they made in the past. It's things like these that make the experience all the more worthwhile.


@Hazali - I agree with you in the sense that instructors usually have very high expectations of their pupils. Sometimes, I feel that they take it to extreme levels. However, when all is said and done, they truly want to see that person succeed. One reason why they might seem so harsh is because once the training is over, one isn't allowed to make mistakes. For example, a driving instructor. Though they can tend to overreact to what you do on the road, driving is serious business, and even one accident can cause you a ticket or prison time.


I can imagine that it must be quite difficult to be groomed for a job. Not only do you have to learn everything from the bottom up, but whoever is teaching you might not be so friendly about it. In other words, they have high expectations of you, and they expect you to follow those rules. On the other hand, before being groomed for a job, it's also a good idea to make sure that over the years, you're watching how about they go about their business. That way, when the times comes, you're ready and prepared.

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