Six Smart Ways to Handle Promotions
By Mark Evans
When your company is growing, you have more opportunities to move people up the ladder. In theory, this is a feel-good opportunity for business owners.
In reality, however, promotions are a minefield. You need to promote the right person and offer the right training. You need to deal with the other disgruntled staffers who didn’t get the job. Here are some suggestions for getting it right:
Develop job descriptions. When you have a high-ranking position come open, know precisely what you’re looking for and let your team know. If you need management skills as well as technical ones, let it be known that’s what you’re looking for and objectively follow your own list of attributes when hiring.
A promotion is not a reward. If someone is a great salesperson or programmer, great. Reward that person for a job well done. But hiking them up the ladder for great work doesn’t always work: is that person truly a fit for the new job? The same goes for a staff member who is not thriving or is undergoing personal problems. A new job will probably not solve their woes and may cause more for your company.
Offer feedback. For those who do not get the job, offer honest but respectful feedback. If you’ve been clear about the job, it’ll be easier to explain why a certain person does not have the exact skill set needed to get the promotion. Make this a private conversation and offer suggestions for training opportunities if this person wants to move up in future.
Accept a “no.” Some staffers will reject promotions — often for good reason. Strong team members will know their limits and may want to avoid management jobs and the added hours and stress they bring. Meanwhile, the “no” could be for more personal reasons that they don’t disclose (and privacy laws dictate they don’t need to). Respect that person’s decision and support them in their existing job with no resentment.
Ease the transition. For the person you promote, some equals will suddenly become subordinates. There may be new management responsibilities. Offer support to help this person learn how to deal with changing roles and the new skills they’ll need to thrive in the new job.
Consider banishing titles. If you are running a small shop where everyone is pitching in, perhaps you don’t even need traditional job titles. You can give people increased responsibilities and raises without needing to adjust what they’re called. It can reduce tension at work and keep your team focused on where it should: the work and the overall success of projects and the company.