You've just been promoted? Great... now what are you going to do about all those co-workers you left behind who are now visualizing daggers plunging into your unprotected spine?
According to a recent study of more than 50,000 employees from U.S.-based service and manufacturing organizations, three out of five employees don’t think their company promotes the most competent people. Or, to put it another way, if you manage a staff of 10 people, six of them are looking at you and wondering how you ever got that job in the first place.
Bruce Katcher, who conducted the study for Discovery Surveys, admits that some of this disgruntlement can be attributed to a “sour grapes” reaction from employees who were passed over for promotions. "Many, however, perceive that management plays favorites and does not base their promotion decisions on objective criteria."
So what do you do to minimize employee disgruntlement, while ensuring that your company is moving forward? Klatcher offers a few tips:
Make certain you promote the right people. That sounds easier said than done, but Klatcher elaborates by noting that promotion decisions in your company should be “based on factors that have been well communicated in advance to all employees.” If everybody knows ahead of time, for instance, that the job requires somebody fluent in Mandarin, then the amount of sour-grapes-ing should be next to none.
Communicate the promotion news carefully. Your employees definitely will not appreciate hearing about it through the grapevine. “Managers should meet individually with those who are not promoted to tell them (if it is true) that they are still valued by the organization,” Klatcher advises.
Recognize the difficulty of the transition for those you promote. Sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at how little thought is given to helping those newly promoted in adjusting to their new boss, responsibilities and direct reports. In short, Klatcher advises, “Spend the time and effort to counsel those who are promoted.”
Consider staying flat. Sometimes the best promotions are the ones you don’t make. Ask yourself if the promotion is really necessary within your group. “Many organizations remain flat to avoid the problems that often accompany promotions. Instead, they pay more to their most valuable employees,” Klatcher notes. “Pay increases are less public than promotions and often accomplish the same goal (i.e., rewarding good performers).”