Promoting Someone? Here’s How to Manage it with Your Team

Promotions are a time for celebration. They mark a significant milestone in an individual’s career and tend to be the culmination of hard work and exceptional performance.

However, beyond the individual’s success, promotions also signal significant changes to a team’s dynamics. Did another coworker get passed over for this promotion opportunity? Does the rest of the team have clear paths to promotion? How are workers being shown their contributions are appreciated outside of promotions?

When someone transitions from a team member to a position of leadership, it can introduce unexpected challenges or growing pains throughout the organization. As a manager, maintaining positive team dynamics during times of transition is a delicate and essential task.

This article will look at common mistakes and successful strategies for managing promotions while keeping the team’s spirits high and working toward common goals. It will also focus on how to build a culture of excellence that recognizes contributions without focusing solely on promotions.

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Common Mistakes When Managing Promotions

When promotions take place, they give managers a chance to recognize an individual’s achievements.

Promotions, however, can adversely affect workplace morale and employee relationships if not handled delicately. Unlike hiring externally, internal promotions change the dynamic between individuals as a team member transitions into a leadership role.

Some common mistakes leaders make when managing internal promotions include:

  • They put all their eggs in one basket: Some managers save up all performance ratings or their biggest bonuses for individuals on a path to promotion, which can feel unfair to other team members without a clear promotion path.
  • They don’t consider the team’s reaction: Some promotions occur at the expense of other team members. If managers don’t consider how a promotion can impact the rest of the team, who may have been passed over for the same opportunity, they run the risk of deepening wounds or distrust.
  • They can go too big: Managers want to highlight their employee’s success and may use the promotion to make a big public display. Promotions are already a big deal and tend to come accompanied by a raise, a title change, and potentially other benefits such as stocks or additional vacation days. Employees definitely deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated publicly! But keep in mind that an overt celebration, while also not taking aforementioned mistakes into account, can lead to a negative impact on team members.

Related: 10 Leadership Behaviors to Be a Better Boss

Steps to Manage Promotions and Career Development Within a Team

To successfully manage promotions of internal staff while keeping others’ interests and feelings in mind, leaders should take steps to foster development and celebrate successes in other meaningful ways.

Let’s take a look at some ways this can be done!

Transparent Paths to Promotion

When one member of the team gets promoted, it’s natural for the remaining team members to reflect on their career development. Although not every job offers upward mobility, there should still be clear opportunities for development and growth.

Managers should make efforts throughout the year to communicate each team member’s path to promotion or career development opportunities. By being transparent about each individual’s areas for growth, they can focus on working towards their own goals and milestones instead of comparing to the individual being promoted.

Create Individual Development Plans

Go a step beyond verbal conversations. Managers should outline individual development plans stating what each team member needs to achieve their career goals.

Clearly outlining their steps for success and tailoring them to the individual will help make their goals tangible and accessible.

To develop individualized plans, start by assessing employees’ current skills, strengths, and areas for improvement. Then, help employees define specific, measurable, and achievable work objectives that align with their career goals (both short- and long-term) and feature diversified learning opportunities such as mentorship, upskilling, or online courses.

Tie their goals to a specific timeline and ensure resources and appropriate staff are allocated to help them achieve their goals.

Offer Mentorship and Coaching Opportunities

Pair employees with mentors or business leaders who can offer guidance and support as they work on their career growth. Mentors can help employees acquire and hone specific leadership or industry-specific skills that are valuable not only for career advancement but also for personal and professional growth.

Mentoring shows employees that they are valued and worth investing in. It also provides a safe and supportive environment for employees to seek career guidance, gain constructive feedback, and get valuable knowledge transfers that help them develop their skills in tangible ways other than through promotions.

Learn how to maximize your impact as a business mentor in our recent article.

Routine Reviews and Feedback Loops

When employees know where they stand, they are less likely to be surprised or unexpectedly upset about another team member’s promotion. Managers are encouraged to conduct regular performance reviews throughout the year to give employees transparent feedback on their work progress and discuss career advancement opportunities.

These reviews should be consistent and offer a two-way conversation where managers can help remove any development roadblocks or identify new growth opportunities.

Recognize Everyday Excellence

Make a concerted effort to recognize and reward outstanding contributions, not just with promotions, but through other avenues as well.

Praise (both public and private), excellence awards, and performance bonuses are alternative ways to recognize a team member’s success by highlighting the value of excellence in and of itself beyond its relation to promotions. Learn how to design a reward program with clear objectives and successful outcomes as part of creating a culture of recognition.

Celebrate Team Achievements

In addition to highlighting individual contributions, take time to celebrate team accomplishments, as well. Teams are composed of employees in various stages of career development, and it can be beneficial for all members to collectively celebrate their wins. Publicly recognizing team efforts, celebrating with team dinners, or organizing gifts of appreciation can help communicate that team successes are as valued as individual successes.

Related: 10 Reasons Why Celebrating Success (And Failure) Is So Important

Focus on Progress Over Promotions

Promotions are a big accomplishment and deserve to be properly celebrated. However, promotions are not the only ways teams and individuals can celebrate their successes.

If you’re interested in learning how to build a better connected team, we’re happy to invite you to sign up for our free workshop, Anatomy of a Connected Team, through Compass, our culture consulting division.