In summary, here are the main reasons why automatically promoting your best employee is the wrong thing to do:
– your best employee is delivering great results in the role they are in. This means that the employee is happy, proficient, performing and is an asset to your business. Promoting that employee will place him/her in a new and unfamiliar role where performance is likely to drop – at least initially
– promoting assumes that the employee wants more money or more responsibility or a change in what they do. This may not be the case – they may have exactly the right level of responsibility and expectation for them
– an offer of promotion is a compliment and can be quite flattering. People rarely make their best decisions when they are being flattered, or feel that the offer is seductive (we could make some analogies to dating and romance however we won’t :-))
– the skills and experience that make that employee great in their current role are unlikely to be a perfect and full match for the new role. What training and support and development will they need to have before they are ready to step into that role?
– is there someone else ready and willing to step into the role that they are about to vacate? Many times people who are promoted find themselves still trying to do at least part of their previous role at the same time as entering a new role
Now that I have hopefully shifted you from thinking that a promotion is automatically the best and right thing to do for an employee, let me offer some suggestions for what else you can do to reward and recognise your good people.
– Engage with the person before you want to promote them to understand what it is that motivates them and what that would consider to be a reward. Many people take immense pride and personal satisfaction from doing their job well and thus the best thing to to is to leave them there and provide a reward and recognition in another way – such as a paid dinner for two, tickets to their favourite sporting event, a night accommodation at a nice hotel or spa resort. Get creative with their input!
– Clarify what skills and attributes are needed for roles within your team and organisation. How much emphasis is placed on technical ability as opposed to leadership ability in different roles? Your technical expert will not automatically have the ability to manage and lead others.
– say thank you. So many of my coaching and leadership training clients comment about the power that a simple thank you has for them. In fact one business owner client who had been experiencing high turnover because staff were disgruntled saw an almost total turnaround merely from implementing a personal program of genuinely and personally thanking those staff who had done something notable well – think about the person who can solve a problem with a key customer, or the team member who has the gift of being able to train new staff in your key systems.
Wishing you well in the process of leading, encouraging and developing your team and business.