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Why to Promote

Mar 03, 2021

Sometimes we promote an employee for all the wrong reasons.

Other times, we get it just right.

To pull apart the difference, I consulted a pair of talent optimization experts.

Shawna Reed, Principal Partner at EmFluent, cites a common promotion pitfall.

“Tenure alone should never be a reason to promote an employee.”

While promoting a longstanding contributor—even if they’re crushing their current role—may seem natural, it can be a mistake if the individual isn’t ready for the next level.

Andreas Dankelmann, CEO of FifthAscent agrees and adds that a promotion shouldn’t be used as a reward or recognition of prior high performance.

Promoting an employee for the wrong reason is lose-lose—the business needs go unmet and the former high flyer is now set up to fail.

So how can we get it right?

Shawna urges leaders to be objective.

“Create a job target first”—identify required behaviors, attitudes, and abilities—”then let the data guide you.”

Andreas counsels leaders to confirm a YES answer to three critical questions.

Does the employee:

Get it? - do they understand what’s required
Want it? - are they motivated to take the next step
Have it? - do they possess the needed capabilities

Thank you both for helping us make the right decision!