How to Give a Promotion to the Right Person


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It’s time to give someone a promotion. Your organization is growing, someone moved on, you’re changing the company structure; whatever it is, you have to make one of the most crucial decisions in leadership: promoting the right person.

How do you decide who you are going to promote?

Sometimes the decision seems easy and other times it can be quite difficult. Whether the candidate stands out or you have to scour the ranks, we recommend that you take your time with promotions because selecting the wrong person can be detrimental to your organization.

How to recognize the right person for a promotion

One of the best ways to promote the right person is to observe your employees. This can’t be done in one day, rather you need to dedicate a week at the absolutely bare minimum. For best results, you need to allocate at least a month. Here’s why: you are looking for the person that your employees turn to when there is an issue (other than you). Who is the guy that gets the questions no one else can answer? Who is the gal that people rely on when they need help? To whom do people call when their plates are overflowing?

The person that receives these questions is a strong candidate for promotion because his or her coworkers value their input. Your employees are telling you “hey, we trust this person to help us and respect this person’s decision-making skills”.

Be careful that you’re not looking for someone that can answer all of your questions. You may have a stellar employee that is great at schmoozing you, but she may treat her fellow co-workers poorly. This is absolutely the wrong person to promote as she will drive away your best employees.

Promote Stress Management

People that know how to manage stress and thrive under pressure are people you want to reward.

Now, you need to look for other characteristics to make sure the problem solver person aforementioned is the right candidate for promotion.How does this person react under stress? Does he explode? Does he shut down? Does he rise to the occasion? Does he do his best work? You know quite well that a position of leadership means constantly solving problems. The higher the responsibilities, the more frequent and more complex the issues become. Look for someone that isn’t averse to change; someone that can pivot when there is a crisis and come up with a solution quickly without losing his cool.

Promote Culture

You also want someone demonstrates the character qualities that you want other in your organization to emulate. The old “do what I say and not what I do” adage doesn’t work when it comes to leading a team. Just as kids mimic their parents, employees will follow the lead of their managers. If you have a pessimist leading your team, you’re sure to breed a culture of “I can’t,” “we can never,”and  “that’s not a good idea”. Putting an optimist in the leadership chair can yield the opposite effect; your office will be more inclined towards the “let’s give it a try,” “we’re reaching for the stars,” and “we’re going to do great things here” mantras.

Promote Integrity

The same goes for integrity. When you interview for a promotion, look for employees that act with honor. If your employees see a coworker cheating clients, they will assume that person is doing the same to them when you promote the deceiver to management. How would you like working for someone that was only out for numero uno?  You likely wouldn’t do your best work for that person, nor would you be inclined to jump in to help him or her if the ball was being dropped. That’s not the culture you want for your team. You want people to lend a hand to one another so that the company is continuously improving.

Promote Confidence

Confident, natural leaders are always good choices to move up the chain of command.

Ok, this one is a bit tricky. You want someone with a bit of confidence. Don’t confuse confidence with cockiness. A cocky person will not take correction nor direction from you.  Likewise, you want to avoid large egos which result in power-trips and micromanagement.

On the flip side, fragile egos don’t entertain ideas from fellow employees. This is a travesty because some of the best ideas come from team members that are low on the totem pole.

You want an employee that is confident enough to stand behind hard decisions and one that is humble enough to collaborate with employees both above and below them.

Promote Quiet

Don’t overlook the quiet people. Often the more charismatic folks win the attention of the boss, but pay attention to the more reserved individuals and see if they don’t exert the character qualities that you are looking for and that others admire. Leaders like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, and Steve Wozniak are all introverted leaders that have accomplished great things with their companies.

Promote Collaboration

Lastly, look for someone that you can collaborate with. You’ll be spending time with your management team – or should be if you aren’t already. So this person needs to be an individual that you can work well with. That means you need to know your own strengths and weaknesses and be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your employees. If you make quick changes, maybe you want someone who is adaptable to that instead of someone who is slow to change. On the other hand, maybe you want someone who is opposite you to balance you out. Either way, be ready to coach that person and our into them, after all,  leadership incredibly difficult and often lonely. If you need more resources on coaching your team, our HR team at PayTech is full of great resources.


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