How to Promote Your Employees: Do's and Don'ts for Managers

Posted by Melissa Tham on 24-Apr-2018 00:00:00

The traditional time to promote employees is during the annual performance review, but a promotion can and should happen when it is most appropriate.  When a key management position is coming up and an internal promotion seems obvious, the office comes abuzz with colleagues championing their peers and the managers already having a candidate in mind. There will be resentment from those who missed out. So what is the best way to handle a promotion?

Here are some do's and don'ts of how to promote at work:


Do promote from within.

Experts estimate that it costs $4,000 to recruit, hire, and train a new employee, according to Entrepreneur magazine. It is definitely less expensive to promote someone from within the company and reduce the uncertainty that comes with bringing in new hires. Promoting from within the company can also drive business performance upwards. This is because employees are already familiar with business processes and culture within the company. They are more likely to have peak performances compared to outside recruits and stick around. 

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 Ask a colleague

If you involve other people in the selection process, you will get a broad range of perceptions of the attitude and capability of the selected individual. To help you better evaluate your decision on who should be promoted, discuss the potential of those employees you have in mind with other supervisors or fellow colleagues. They will be able to give you valuable feedback based on their interactions and experiences with the employee. While most bosses may share the same sentiments as you, you may be surprised to hear a different story from peers.

Do be ready for a variety of reactions. 

There will be people who may be upset that they were passed over for a promotion and there will be those who agree with your promotion decision. You will not please everyone, but always be prepared to justify your decision to the higher-ups. If you know of individuals who will be disappointed not to get the promotion, talk to them personally. Use this as an opportunity to discuss their aspirations and developmental needs and what can be done to meet them.

Do promote an employee who is ready to supervise others. 
A promotion is not merely an acknowledgement of the skills and knowledge of the job, but the ability to lead others. Managing others require a different skill set than those of a mere technical role. Potential managers will have to take on more responsibility and thrive on additional load. To make sure you are making the right choice, keep an open line of communication between employees and managers and keep stock of the talent you have in the organization.


Don’t use a promotion as a reward for a one-time achievement. 

This is especially so when the employee display mediocre performance for the rest of the year and only have one major achievement. While it is important to recognize achievements, a promotion should be earned by sustained effort over time. The rest of the employees will see what it takes to be promoted and if you use promotion as a reward for one-time strong performances, it sends the wrong message to the masses.

Do not promote an employee just to prevent them from resigning. 

Resignations from top performers may be disturbing news to you and your employees. However, using promotions as a counter-offer might create resentment among others and compromise your company by advancing an employee too soon. When employees tender their resignation, it is often due to something they are unhappy about. Unhappy employees can be tough to manage and disrupts the work effectiveness and morale of others in the organization. Accept that people have different goals and despite your best efforts, your employees will move on.

We hope that this article is helpful. Do you have any tips you would like to add?

Let us know in the comments and please share this post with a friend/colleague if you enjoyed it!



Topics: Performance Management

Written by Melissa Tham