Plan and execute great job promotions with this guide
Are you getting ready to promote your high performing staff member?
Job promotions can seem like an exciting thing: there’s lots to prepare for and celebrate. But when 40% of job promotions end with failure after only a year and a half, it’s also a critical time for the long-term success of your business and the happiness of your employee.
It’s a sad fact that what makes someone great at doing a job doesn’t necessarily make them great at managing a team or projects. So when most promotions come with management-level responsibilities, a mismatch can easily happen.
Management is a discipline in itself – leadership, planning, organising, communication being key skills within it.
So how can you make sure that your promotions stick? The last thing you want to do is take a happy top-performer and promote them into an unhappy, failing manager.
1 – Mentoring
Mentoring is crucial for planning a great promotion, especially when the new title comes with management responsibilities.
Few people are natural managers, so to ensure that your employee transitions well and builds the skills they need to survive in their role, give them a mentor. This person will be there to give advice and navigate tricky situations.
This could be a senior team member within the company or an external coach.
2 – Training
Within small companies, it’s rare for someone to be given formal training with their promotion.
New management responsibilities are often learnt by trial and error on the job which continues throughout their career. But you don’t want to leave your employee out to dry.
There are some courses that you can invest in to help your employees properly scale their skills and give them the tools to do well.
3 – Alternative progression
When we think of career progression, we usually think about taking on more and more management responsibilities. We think about managing a team, a bigger budget or a key project.
But when this is the only option for progression, it risks moving people away from their strengths and what they enjoy about their role.
If you have a great Account Executive and promote them to a manager-level position where they’re coordinating a team, they will spend less time liaising with clients and working on projects, which could be the very thing they love and excel at!
So offering alternative paths for progression may help to retain your best people.
For example, you could promote people into other functions. Subject matter experts focus on technical leadership, so this role type is great for someone looking to manage employees in their career. But team lead roles are great for people that already love their jobs! Team leads tend to do some management of employees but still focus on plenty of “doing”.
4 – Responsibility and authority
Perhaps the steepest learning curve is to do with authority. How can you tell the people who used to be at your level what to do? Will they respect you or dislike you for changing?
New managers can struggle to set the tone properly. They can under or over-exert their authority over people they manage, damaging morale or discipline. They can act too early or too late, losing credibility.
Some support and guidance goes a long way in these situations.
5 – Be gradual
One of the upsides of internal promotions is that you already know your candidate. But does your candidate know if the role is for them?
We recommend taking your time with the transition of responsibilities and testing them out before committing to a final decision on whether a promotion is on the cards.
Let your candidate take on one new responsibility at a time and really get a feel for it.
6 – Set them up to succeed
When a senior employee hands in their notice or a problem arises on a project, leaders jump into action and try to find a solution.
Quite often, these crunch times are when people are promoted: when the company needs to fix something.
Leaders appoint someone new to champion or solve the issue but in reality, this often means that the promoted employee is starting on the back foot. They have to deal with a problem that more experienced managers have either failed to solve or didn’t want to solve.
Someone in this position often won’t have proper support or guidance, so it’s far better to give promotions in well-established areas of the business. This frees up the more experienced managers to deal with difficult or emerging areas.