The Promotion Game: Planning for the Win

When the calendar rolls over to a new year, a common and strategically wise practice for employers is to reflect on the past year: what worked or did not work so well on the human resources front? Too often this reflection focuses on the negatives rather than building on the positives. If you’ve had success on a specific HR initiative, consider how can you capitalize on it to strengthen your overall HR objectives for the new year.

As an example, say you adopted a new approach to recruiting employees. It has paid dividends, with you having hired individuals who had the perfect blend of experience, attitude, and aptitude. First off, congratulations—by ensuring you are recruiting and hiring the right fit for the roles you are staffing, you’ve taken a critical first step to establishing an HR direction and practice that can be leveraged for further success. Next, you need to make sure you have a plan in place to keep and develop the top recruits you have attracted to your business.

Your past year’s hires have proven to be hard-working, motivated, skilled, and personable employees. Promoting them as reward for their talents, interests, and aptitudes seems like a natural retention move: demonstrate to these employees that you value their contributions to your establishment and they will in turn increase their commitment and help set high expectations for all employees.

However, your approach to promoting staff needs to be deftly managed, or you run the risk of losing the momentum you’ve established with your new recruitment and hiring practices. Without the right support, that promising employee may not be able to live up to your expectations.

Before you make a formal offer, ensure everything is in place for the staff member to succeed in the new role.

A promotion generally means increased responsibilities—these can be stressful for the employee, particularly if they include supervising other staff. This is even more of a transition if it will be the person’s first time supervising others. Meet with the individual you are considering promoting to discuss short-, medium-, and long-term career aspirations. Pay particular attention to areas where these goals dovetail with the needs of your business. Establish a training plan in partnership with the employee, considering both personal areas for growth as well as plans for the business.

Make sure you have easily available tools and resources to assist the employee in succeeding in the new role. If the promotion includes supervising others, make sure to provide resources that will assist in the development of communication, conflict management, and general people skills.

Find out how the potential manager would feel leading people who were once at the same job level. Some may find it too difficult to remonstrate a close colleague, while others may find the new “power” goes to their head; either situation may have you losing staff due to a good employee turned poor manager.

Also ascertain the person`s capacity to absorb new information and learn new tasks. New managers will be required to transition from an operational focus, such as serving meals, to a strategic focus, such as planning schedules based on expected guest numbers. Quick learners should be able to take their prior knowledge and use it as a base for their new duties.

Once the promotion has been offered and accepted, try to ease the employee into the new role as gradually as possible. The transition from staff member to supervisor or manager requires an employee to develop a new skill set, which should not be expected to materialize immediately upon promotion.

Continue to offer training and coaching as the individual acquires on-the-job knowledge. Keep an open door and regularly follow up on their progress. Make sure all aspects of the new position are properly understood and nothing has been overlooked. Without support, you may end up overwhelming an excellent employee and possibly losing them—or others.

Many advantages result from internal promotion. Former frontline workers can more easily empathize with the challenges faced by their team members and can readily relate to the day-to-day responsibilities undertaken by their staff. Managers promoted internally are also assets because they are the keepers of corporate memory, and can impart to new hires their in-depth understanding of company culture and values.

Your newly promoted employees will face many challenges in a new role, but you can play an integral part in their success by ensuring they have the tools and support to make informed, strategic decisions that ultimately benefit the business and their own career paths.

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