Promoting a junior employee to a manager-level position

Hand moving wooden blocks on top of each other to look like a career ladder.

Is promoting your employee to a manager-level position a good idea?

Promoting your junior employee to a manager position can seem like a simple decision: if they can take on the responsibility, why not give their role an upgrade? But when nearly 40% of newly promoted employees fail within 18 months, it’s best to exercise some caution.

A poorly planned or undeserved promotion not only spells disaster for your employee but your wider team as well. Feelings of jealousy and resentment are sure to crop up once one employee seems to be prioritised over others.

But when promotions as essential for your hiring, retention and long-term business strategy, you can’t afford to be afraid of them.

Why should you promote your junior employees?

When you think of big life milestones, what images pop up?

Buying a house, having children and being promoted are common dreams for most people. These dreams are unnegotiable, meaning that we are willing to risk it all to make these things happen.

When it comes to promotions, lots of us are willing to risk starting a new job to climb the ladder.

This is especially true for junior employees: 49% of workers between 18 and 34 expect job advancements every year, but only 17% believe their company gives them a fair chance to grow.

If looking at training, salary and promotions isn’t part of your yearly review process, you might start seeing your junior employees hand in their notices far sooner than you first expected. And when investing in your current team is far cheaper than regularly re-hiring, it’s a no brainer!

When you promote your team members, you end up with loyal senior employees that truly care about the business and can be fully trusted.

Young professional employee smiling while on a phone call with her boss.

How to identify a high performer for promotion

If this is your first time thinking about offering a promotion, you can feel unsure about whether it’s the right decision.

We recommend asking yourself:

  • Has your employee has outgrown the responsibilities in their current role?
  • Are they capable of taking on new responsibilities right now?
  • Do you think they are dedicated to professional growth?
  • Can you trust them to take on more crictical projects or tasks?
  • Will they be able to tell you if they need help with their new workload?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, a promotion might not be the right next step.

We don’t recommend letting these factors take over when considering someone for a promotion:

  • How much you like your employee as a friend – this could create animosity within your wider team.
  • Fear that your employee will leave if they don’t get promoted – a promotion will rarely keep someone satisfied long-term.
  • Your need for someone to take on more responsibility – if you’re desperate and end up promoting someone too soon, you could end up making a poor decision.

Your employee promotion programme

The ideal candidate for promotion should stand out from the crowd, but it’s best to not wait until you’re wowed into giving out a promotion. Regular performance reviews can be a great way to stay on top of showing appreciation, but what if your newest hire impressed you so much in their first few months you consider promoting them?

When is the right time to consider a promotion?

There really is no one answer to this – promotions can happen at any stage in your employee’s time with you. I’ve heard of people being offered a promotion after a few weeks on the job!

A great way to see if a promotion is in the cards is to test it out. That’s the glory of considering an internal candidate for the role.

Consider giving your junior employees a few short-term responsibility increases before you make your final decision. Perhaps they take on and manage an intern for a few weeks? Or maybe they can take on a new responsibility for a month to see if they want it long-term?

Testing your current employees before making your final decision on promoting someone is a great way to minimise risk.

Once you test your employee you can come to a final decision. I’d always recommend talking to your employee about this in a performance review alongside their career aspirations, no matter if the news is good or bad.

If you decided against promoting them, come up with a plan to get them ready if it’s something they want to pursue. If you think promoting them is a great idea, bring it up and see if they would be open to the opportunity.

Young professional manager in an office.

Could your employee turn down a promotion?

It’s not unheard of for an employee to turn down a promotion, but it usually comes down to one key factor: salary. Most employees don’t dream of taking on more stress and responsibilities for nothing. They expect a generous raise to reflect their skills.

If you decide to go down the route of promoting junior employees to manager-level positions without increasing their salary, you might find that you end up paying much less than the market average and end up with a higher turnover rate.

Planning a promotion

If your employee agrees to the promotion, congratulations! Now it’s time to get planning.

When you work for a startup, you can’t really expect traditional promotions to work. The essence of a job at a startup will always be evolving as employees take on more responsibility while the company grows, so a traditional promotion might not be quite right.

You could consider offering a horizontal promotion, which is where your employee’s title and salary are raised but their responsibilities stay the same. So while you will be promoting an employee to a manager-level position, their day-to-day responsibilities might not change much at all.

If your employee will go on to manage other team members, it’s best to give them some training and guide them through the shift.

Announcing the promotion of your employee

Promoting one of your employees is excellent news! It means that you’re growing as a business and investing in your team. But the last thing you need is to spark jealousy or discontent from your other employees.

It’s a good idea to take a few minutes from your next full team meeting to announce the promotion.

  • Start by touching on your star employee’s recent acheivements and the value they bring.
  • Mention their new title and responsibilities, especially if they will impact your other employees.
  • And finally end by congratulating your promoted team member.

I hope this article helps you decide whether promoting your employee to a manager-level position is the right next step. If you need any help finding high-performing juniors to hire and eventually promote, look no further!

About post author

Hi, I'm Daisy. I'm using my passion for writing to work with DigitalGrads on their content and social media campaigns.
Posted in Managing Juniors