Hiring decisions are among the most difficult managerial duties business leaders will face. It’s hard enough to break the bad news to rejected prospects after an interview, and these are people you’re unlikely to see again.
How do you maintain a positive work environment when promoting from within?
After all, your staff comprises people you’ll see and interact with regularly. You’ve undoubtedly spent countless hours with team building and collaboration. It would be a shame to see all that hard work disappear due to hard feelings.
Even when the promotion decision is solid and supported by the rest of your staff, the transition period can be awkward. One day Joe is a colleague, and the next, he’s the boss.
It changes the dynamic in the best co-working relationships.
So, how do you support cohesion when other team members are unhappy with your decision? What is the best way to soothe workers who were passed over in favor of one of their peers?
The Benefits of Internal Promotion
As a recruitment and retention tool, it’s tough to beat internal mobility. After all, opportunities for career advancement are one of the main reasons professionals cite for choosing a specific company or staying with their current employer.
From a business standpoint, internal promotions make sense.
First and foremost, they save time and money. Outside recruitment can be costly, and it’s often a gamble. What if the new manager doesn’t quite jibe with the corporate culture? Someone who knows your company and already has skin in the game will be ready to onboard to a managerial role in a shorter time and already have a relationship with the customers and team.
Internal mobility inspires the rest of your staff to step up their game. When workers see that their efforts will be rewarded, it empowers them to do better.
A promotion should be a cause for celebration all around, right?
When Staff Promotions Adversely Affect Workplace Morale
According to the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management (VDHRM), up to 80% of all workplace conflict stems from animosity between co-workers. This is especially true in a highly competitive field, such as sales. Still, it can creep into even the most seemingly harmonious work environment if not handled with care and consideration.
Effective leaders know how to avoid such situations and create a healthy, productive work environment.
5 Ways to Avoid Conflict After Promoting a Staff Member
One unhappy employee may be a matter of conflicting personalities or a difference of opinion. Several disgruntled workers can derail your company, impact productivity, and affect your bottom line.
Promoting staff members is yet another instance where taking a proactive approach is your best line of defense. If your workplace is generally happy and harmonious, major business decisions like a staff promotion will only increase workplace morale and incentivize other employees to realize their potential.
Here are five tips to help you do it right.
1. Position the Promotion as a Win for the Team
Involved, observant managers and business owners sometimes benefit from objectivity when identifying natural leaders among their staff. Many times. It’s also apparent to team members.
Who’s the person they turn to when they need to raise a point or demand action from the boss?
Which co-worker keeps everyone organized and on-point?
However, there will always be one or two dissatisfied workers who feel that they work as hard or accomplish just as much and never get noticed for their efforts. When they are constantly passed over for promotions or feel that their work goes unrecognized and unrewarded, dissatisfaction and employee turnover are the results.
When you position the advancement of one employee as a win for the team, it helps them to feel included and valued.
Encourage them to join you in congratulating the recipient of the promotion. Highlight how success is a team effort supported by exemplary leadership within the group. Emphasize that helping their coworker succeed in the new position reflects positively on the team and furthers the company’s mission.
Thriving companies poised for growth and expansion also mean further opportunities for advancement among staff members.
2. Maintain an Open Door Policy
Effective leaders always keep the door open to staff members. If the new position was down to more than one candidate or you notice that news of the promotion was less than favorably received, schedule a private sit down with each affected employee.
Don’t beat around the bush. Get straight to the heart of the matter immediately by stating why you called the meeting. Then, let them know that you understand their disappointment. Provide a full picture of why the person who received the promotion was chosen and offer specific reasons why they were not.
Try to be as diplomatic and straightforward as possible. Offer encouragement and concrete suggestions that will help them advance in the future.
3. Help Staff Members Develop a Career Planning Strategy
Don’t pay lip service to vague assurances of future promotions. Actively work with staff who have been passed over for advancement to plan a career advancement strategy. Address specific reasons why they were not selected at this time and offer remedies.
For example, it could be that the employee lacks experience. This is something that time can take care of. Perhaps they’re unsure of their capabilities, and that’s what’s holding them back from reaching their potential.
Help set your staff up for success by offering encouragement and support. Provide opportunities to build confidence and take on more responsibility, such as putting them in charge of a project.
Above all, don’t give false hope if there is no chance for that employee to advance. There’s nothing worse for morale than a leader who dangles promises with no plan for a payoff in the future. Never mention a specific future salary increase or job title.
If an employee is truly better remaining in a support position than rising to a leadership role, outline why you value their unique skills and abilities in their current role.
4. Help Your Rising Star Make the Transition
Don’t forget to support and empower the person receiving the promotion. It will take some time for them to adjust to their new role, and their ability to step up with confidence will impact how the rest of the team responds.
5. Be Transparent
We’ve all been there at one time or another. A less capable co-worker, a friend of the family, or the boss’s niece gets the best leads, first pick of vacation days, or the promotion you’ve been working toward for years.
I’m not saying that any of these choices couldn’t be the right person for the job. It’s just that, in my experience, such promotions or hires rarely work out. They also lead to staff dissatisfaction and lack of trust, especially when they’re based on anything less than merit and experience.
When considering which staff members to elevate to a higher position, it’s best to avoid even the appearance of favoritism. Try to keep irrelevant factors out of the equation. Set personal feelings, relationships, and other factors aside and consider who is the best person to lead your team or help your company stay on track to fulfill its mission and goals.
If that person is also the owner’s nephew, you should be able to lay out the reason for that decision with concrete facts.
You don’t necessarily need to break out the presentation software and create a point-by-point outline of your managerial decisions or process. But, transparency is always a solid best practice when managing your most important asset, your team.
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. An effective leader doesn’t need to justify their decisions, but the process should be transparent.
Larger companies can consider announcing the move via a press release on their website and social media. However, this should not be how the rest of your staff hears the news.
Word of the promotion can be delivered via email and in a company newsletter. Still, you should also announce the decision to your staff, such as during a weekly staff meeting or corporate event. Other candidates under consideration should hear the news first, in private.
Whatever the delivery method, highlight the qualifications, contributions, and successes of the promoted staff member. You should always stand firmly by your decision, but it doesn’t hurt to inform your staff how and why the decision was made.
Managing human resources isn’t for the faint of heart. You must keep the staff happy and engaged while keeping your eye on what’s best for the business.
Whether in a leadership position at a large multinational corporation or a small business owner positioning key staff members to help you scale, internal mobility can be tricky to navigate if handled badly.
About the Author:
Uday Tank is a serial entrepreneur and content marketing leader who serves the international community at Rankwisely. He enjoys writing, including marketing, productivity, business, health, diversity, and management.