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The topic of employee promotion is a touchy one for employees and managers alike, but it’s not so black and white.
Being able to confidently give your employee a promotion is a great feeling all around. The employee feels rewarded for their hard work, and managers feel that they have succeeded at leading their employee to the next step.
But it’s not that simple. There are so many caveats to offering a promotion, such as whether that employee is really the best fit for the new title, even if their seniority suggests it’s time, and whether there is room for promotion at all within the company, even if they are deserving.
According to research from Gallup:
Companies fail to make the right person manager 82% of the time.
That’s a big number, and can lead to a lot of problems within the company. That’s why it’s important to get promotions right
Before we take a look at the etiquette of promotion in the workplace…
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Evaluating an employee for a promotion requires you to assess the employee’s skill set, their effectiveness at their current position and their potential for further growth
However, employee promotion criteria will differ depending on circumstance and workplace. There is not one set of rules to follow or a universal checklist fo for the process. Dan Schawbel, author of the best-selling book “Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success”, does, however, offer some great insight. Think about the following traits when considering someone for promotion:
Getting things done in a timely and efficient manner is a skill that can’t be overlooked. An employee who is constantly checking off their to-do list despite how challenging the tasks are, and then pushing their own personal boundaries without being prompted to, is a great indicator that they are ready to take on even more.
No matter how hard-working your employee may be, if they don’t have a positive attitude, you might want to reconsider a promotion. Work is not only about getting things done, it’s about being an inspiration to the people around you, especially when you are moving towards a leadership role. The manager on the team sets the mood for the team to follow, and giving off a negative energy will only serve to disengage your employees.
Being a team player is likewise very important when considering promoting an employee. Teamwork is one of the fundamentals of success in the workforce, so the people you promote on your team would necessarily need to be open to working with the team, not as an island.
They should work with them on a consistent basis, creating and establishing a working relationship based on trust and mutual respect.
Inherent in the idea of promotion is the idea of personal gain, but, like all superheroes know, with great power comes great responsibility. Moving up on the ladder is less about the employee as an individual and more about the organization at large. A promotion should only be handed out to those who understand promotion as an upward movement within the company, for the company, not just as a personal milestone to cross off their bucket list.
In addition knowing the hard skills that are requisite to do the job, there’s an element of personality that’s important for managers to consider when promoting an employee, either to a leadership position, or one where they will simply have more face time with clients and the rest of the company members. Emotional intelligence and empathy are some of the most important traits for leaders to have. A job is more than a task, it’s about a whole ecosystem of people and systems. In a Career Builder survey, it states that:
Characteristics of an EI personality include the following traits that are important for managers to consider when promoting an employee to a leadership role:
The Peter Principle is a concept in management that says that people are promoted based on their skills in their current role, and not for the future role. When promoting an employee, you will, of course, have to consider that there will be a learning curve before they assimilate perfectly to the new role, however it’s important to think about the skills they possess currently, and if they have any of the required skills needed for the next step, such as leadership skills if they would be entering a managerial role.
If your employee doesn’t listen to or learn from your feedback it is a sign that they are resistant to improvement. Not being open to bettering themselves as employees is a reason to hold back on promotion.
Not being open to learning is a sign that they are not open to growth, and promotion and growth are in a way simultaneous. The best promotion candidates will not only wait for feedback, they will seek it out and apply the feedback that is given.
Just because your employee might not be suited for a promotion at this point in the game, as a manager, you still want them to be able to get there because it’s a reflection of your own performance.
If an employee didn’t receive the promotion that they wanted, it’s important to help them set professional goals for themselves using the OKRs. Letting them know what they need to do to earn a promotion and providing them with a clear path to get there will give them hope.
To let your employee know that you are still invested in their growth within the company, offer to support their professional development outside of work. Help them find lectures to attend, programs to take or certificates to earn that will push them in the right direction.
This seems obvious, but it’s really important to remember to give feedback to your employees, in the form of weekly check-ins or monthly one on ones. Days get busy and then weeks go by quickly before you might realize that you haven’t had a sit down with your employee. If your employee was hoping for a promotion that they didn’t receive but you believe that they can eventually get there, it’s important to recognize their drive and sit down with them often to go over their work, answer questions and check in on progress. Essentially, be their mentor.
On the other end of the spectrum of employees not being ready to be promoted, are employees that are but can’t be. Often there is nowhere to promote them to and no openings to fill. However, to keep them engaged, it’s essential to find a way to compensate them in other ways to keep them eager to improve and grow.
Imagine what it would do for a person’s drive knowing that there was no more chance for growth.
Money is by no means the most important element of work to an employee, but a bonus and/or a raise to acknowledge their hard work would not go unnoticed and would offer them the consolation that there is at least room for movement up the pay scale, despite
Allowing your employee the option to work remotely is a great perk that lets them know how much you trust them completely. Giving them this advantage is a way of showing appreciation and will make your employee feel recognized.
We said this above as a means to help your employees grow, but it is also a great way to keep them motivated. Ask your employee if there are any development opportunities they would like to pursue, be it a course, or a conference abroad. Let your employee know that can dream big and that you are willing to help fund their goal.
Let your employees spearhead work-related side projects and initiatives that they’ve been wanting to explore. Select companies offer their employees 20% of their time to focus on their own creative initiatives. Giving this opportunity demonstrates trust and the extra responsibility will empower your employees.
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