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Managing Promotions Effectively


Each year, when employee reviews come around, managers determine who will be promoted. This decision involves several considerations.


A survey of 400,000 U.S. workers found that when they think that promotions are well managed, they are twice as likely to put extra effort into their work and commit to the organization long term. Promotions are indicators of how well managers’ actions line up with the company’s values.


If promotions are not managed well, one employee’s success can result in others’ feelings of resentment and frustration. They may perceive that managers are exhibiting favoritism, which can be demoralizing to a team.


Here are some tips for managers when promoting employees who report to them.


Consider business growth contributions

When employees are up for a potential promotion, look at contributions they have made beyond the scope of their job requirements and length of service. Another dimension to consider is what they have contributed to the business and its growth. What new responsibilities have they taken on? How well have they built client relationships? Who have they recommended as additional resources to the organization? What new revenue streams have they initiated? Business goals are driven by employees; therefore, those who advance these are promising candidates for promotion.


Continuous learning

Another point when considering whether to promote employees is their commitment to learning and growth. When employees view promotion opportunities as continuous development, this demonstrates dedication to excellence. Aspects of employees deserving promotion are deeper and broader than traditional criteria of tenure and meeting basic requirements; they are more holistic in scope.


Manager-employee dialogue

When managing promotions, inquire about employees’ goals and what promotion means to them. From here you can discuss growth paths and career direction. It is also important to clarify what the company can offer, such as training, learning opportunities, etc.


The dialogue also includes understanding employees’ personal goals and discerning how they align with the company’s goals. This alignment lends itself to promotion opportunities that benefit the employee and the company; thus, it is a win for all.


Discerning capabilities

Identify employees who have about ¾ of the capabilities you seek and create a development plan to enable them to obtain the additional ¼. There is always room for employees to develop and improve. Communicating regularly with employees is important in determining alignment of their development needs and the skills required for the team to carry out the goals for the year. Closely collaborating with the Human Resource business partners and Learning and Development helps ensure the alignment between and support of the company’s needs and the needs of the employees.


Development opportunities

View promotions as part of employees’ development journey. A promotion is the sum total of all that goes into this journey. It is contingent on managers to partner with employees to include action plans as part of the development path. Identifying the best path to support employee development is key to promotion success and ongoing growth.


Start early

Don’t wait until close to review time to decide on and process promotions. It is often too late to discuss promotion goals and expectations at the time of the annual review. Promotion decisions happen over time; you need to be able to observe employees demonstrating expected performance over several months. Get started early in discussing expectations for promotions, plans to attain these, and doing the work.


Get others’ feedback

Promoting an employee is not a unilateral decision; get feedback about them from their colleagues. Also consider the impact of promoting an employee on the other team members’ performance, especially in cases where competition for the promotion occurs. It is important to be aware of how decisions around promotion can affect the whole team dynamic.


Consider upskilling

When assessing promotions, identify employees who contribute new knowledge to your business. Skills and knowledge improvement are crucial in hiring, retention, and promoting talent, which can be game changers in a competitive market.


Stabilize pay increases

Think outside the box when managing promotions. You might consider early promotions, so that employees don’t leave to attain salary increases and promotions elsewhere. This approach also solves challenges around retention. Replacing talent, onboarding, and training is very costly, and the money might be saved by promoting strong existing talent before the annual review cycle.


Position promotions

When promoting an employee, position it as a win for the team and encourage acknowledgement and celebration as a team. This helps everyone feel included and valued. Emphasize that helping colleagues succeed in the new position reflects positively on the team and advances the company’s values and mission. When companies are doing well, there is greater opportunity of advancement of its employees.


Be transparent

Share promotion policies and processes with the team. Ensure that this policy is equitable. Focus on needed skill set, performance, and complementary skills when determining promotions, so that diverse talent has equal opportunity. Be transparent with employees throughout the year and engage in regular conversations about expectations, goals, and accomplishments.


Training for Managing Promotions

Learning about how to manage employee promotions through training is another way you can assess and implement it. The Karen Natasha Coaching training program offers workshops on tools and practices. See https://www.karenatashacoaching.com/ for more details.


What to do TODAY?

Karen Natasha Coaching helps many people access awareness about themselves. We help people shift their energy, so that they can move forward with assurance, confidence, and renewed energy to achieve their goals and bring their best selves to any situation. We can help you gain a sense of empowerment and control by understanding and managing promotions of your employees. Contact Karen Natasha Coaching for a consultation to experience how we can help.



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