wall art about communication on how to get a promotion

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Recently, Dell made news headlines by saying that remote employees can stay remote but they’re not going to be considered for promotional opportunities. I’m not here today to talk about whether this is the right decision. I’d like to think that Dell has done their homework and understands the potential consequences. But the article did remind me that organizations need to tell employees what it takes to get promoted. 

Often when a new employee arrives, we’re so focused on training them for the job they were just hired for that we don’t think about when to begin conversations about the future. I’ve said before that I believe a manager’s job is to hire and train their replacement. This doesn’t happen overnight. And not every employee wants a promotion. Managers need to think about how they can talk with employees about their current performance and the future at the same time. 

The reason that managers need to think about their replacement is because they will not be able to get promoted themselves if they don’t have someone to replace them in the pipeline. Oh sure, the company can promote them without a replacement identified but we all know what that means. The manager will do their new job plus their old job until the replacement is found, hired, and onboarded. So, during a time when the manager should be focused on learning their new role, they will be pulled in multiple directions. This doesn’t set someone up for success. 

So, managers need to talk with employees about the future. This conversation can start during one-on-one meetings. It doesn’t have to wait for the annual performance review. Find out if the employee even wants a promotion. Some employees don’t and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean they won’t work hard and produce quality. Some employees do want a promotion and the manager needs to explain what it takes – both the technical requirements and the non-technical ones. 

The technical requirements are specific to the job. An employee might need to demonstrate proficiencies in project management, decision making, communications, etc. Sometimes these proficiencies happen as part of doing the work. Or they might happen because the employee received training. Or maybe the employee was selected for a special assignment that helped them learn new skills

The non-technical piece can be more difficult to explain, and it could be related to organizational culture. In my career, I’ve heard it described in terms of building relationships, working extra hours, volunteering for assignments … you get the point. Honestly, I’ve seen very technically qualified people turn down promotions because they weren’t on board with the non-technical requirements. That’s why it’s important to know both.

Managers should openly and honestly share what it takes to get promoted with employees and let them decide for themselves. And if employees choose not to pursue a promotion, that should be okay. Maybe an employee isn’t ready, and they will be later. Employees should not be penalized for not wanting a promotion. And organizations need to know what an employee is thinking so they can prepare for their future talent needs. 

Organizations have a great talent pipeline already in their organization – their current employees. Telling employees what it takes to get promoted and then supporting their decision is about building and maintaining that pipeline. It’s time to start communicating what it takes to get a promotion in your organization.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Boston, MA

The post Tell Employees What It Takes to Get a Promotion appeared first on hr bartender.

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