Promotions come with several changes many employees don’t consider until they’re in their new role.
Every year when companies schedule their annual performance reviews, there are discussions about promotions. Promotions come with several changes many employees don’t consider until they’re in their new role. In my work with CEOs, one of the most common and disturbing trends in today’s workforce is the attitude of entitlement.
Employers and employees perpetuate an attitude of entitlement. Employers want to demonstrate their loyalty, and often one of the most common ways to do this is to promote an employee that has been with the company for a long time. While well-meaning, this often results in the activation of “The Peter Principle” in which companies promote employees to the highest levels of incompetence.
This ultimately leads to termination, and initiates a painfully slow unravelling of an employee’s confidence, engagement, and ability to perform.
Employees in turn perpetuate an attitude of entitlement, by getting themselves into a corner that has no escape, by telling themselves, “I deserve a promotion.” They allow their egos to drive their career advancement. They are often drawn to the idea of a higher-ranking title and a higher rung on the career ladder.
The Fallout of Unwarranted Promotions
Promotions come with significant changes that both employers and employees overlook until it’s too late, and staff have been moved around.
Two current clients are dealing with the fallout of promotions that should have never been granted and promises that should have never been made. We’re working diligently to:
- minimize/contain further damage,
- shift the culture from high entitlement/low accountability to low entitlement/high accountability, and
- save a valuable, loyal, long-term employee with vital institutional knowledge from walking out the door.
Changes That Accompany Promotions
Promotions are not just about rewarding loyalty, and moving employees up a ladder. To set up everyone for success, employees must think about the following criteria prior to accepting a promotion position:
New job requirements
Do YOU (the employee) pass the “GWC Test?”
Do you Get it: Do they truly understand their role, the culture, the processes and systems, the pace of the organization, and how all of these elements come together to form a well-oiled machine?
Do you Want it: Do they genuinely like their job? Do they believe in what they are doing? Are they excited about coming to work to see the progress that is occurring? Do they want to use their experience, talents, and ideas to further the organization?
Do you have the Capacity to do it? Capacity is a multi-pronged word. It applies to mental, physical, emotional, spiritual (in some cases), and intellectual capacity, as well as having the capacity of time to do a job well.
Integrating the demands of the new position into your personal life
It’s likely that the new position will require additional travel either locally and or Internationally and very possibly longer hours. Employees must consider this carefully. They should also have these conversations with their “significant other” who may need to pick up the slack in their absence.
Giving up responsibilities you really enjoy
Promotions often involve movement from a hands-on practitioner role to a management/supervisory role that takes employees out of the trenches where they are doing what they love. Leaving behind the work they love doing may sound glamorous initially however, not doing what you love doing permanently can be a source of significant stress and unhappiness.
Learning tasks and responsibilities you may not enjoy
Conversely, you will likely have to become knowledgeable in areas you may not have naturally pursued. This is common when companies promote rock-star sales employees to a sales leadership position. They move from being in the field responsible for themselves, to being in a corner office responsible for others. Being a team leader may not have been something you would ordinarily have wanted to do however the promotion position requires that you manage a team. Now you have to learn how to do that.
Changing the dynamics of office friendships
This is one of the most surprising and difficult challenges that accompany promotions.
With any promotion comes a very real change in dynamics and relationships with colleagues. Where once you were able to sit and bemoan manager with your colleagues because you were one-of-team(us) and shared many of the same frustrations – that is now different. You are one of “them”. The guys you once believed didn’t “understand” or was “divorced from what was happening on the floor.” You may have developed good friendships along the way and now that you have moved up the ladder the line has to be drawn in the sand. As a member of the management team, you may well be privy to many sensitive and confidential conversations about your friends that you will not be able to share. Be sure you are willing to establish the boundary and change the dynamics of your friendships? This is a question only the employee can answer for themselves.
Promoting Strategically and Effectively
Ambitious employees can do many things to set themselves up for successful promotions, including:
- Leading or engaging in initiatives outside of their traditional roles
- Being coach-able and open to feedback
- Mentoring others
- Delivering on what is expected of them and being known as someone reliable
- Engaging in professional development and sharing this knowledge with others
Employers must think about career trajectories and organizational impact far in advance of scheduled performance reviews. Consider why you are offering the promotion- Is it a loyalty decision? Is it a competency based decision – remember the higher up the ladder you go these less technical skill is needed and the more strategic skills ( e.g. soft skills- people skills, negotiation skills) are required.
Perhaps an employee is a good promotion candidate, but requires some coaching and training to step into the new role. This training is often not about how well the person can do the job – because lets face it; the reason the promotion discussion is even on the table is because the person has already proved their technical competence. So what else does the person need to be set up for success? These steps must be executed in advance of the promotion so that business proceeds with minimal disruption..
Unsuccessful promotions leave a trail of disappointment, broken trust, and failed executions. These can also be a costly exercise both financially and reputation-wise for the company.
When thoughtfully executed, however, successful promotions yield tremendous benefits for everyone involved, empower the company to attract & retain great talent, and propel and promote continued growth.