Namely, they can lead to significant turnover. So what’s an HR pro to do?
Not promoting your workers is unfair to them and infeasible for your business. But it’s not about who or when you promote – it comes down to how you promote.
The right promotion process can ensure that your promoted workers are retained and engaged. Here’s how.
Promotion game plan: Before, during and after
Promotions can be a lot for an employee. Besides the benefits, like an increased salary, they can come with a lot of new responsibilities, like a bigger team to manage and new duties that can take a lot of time to get a handle on. If leaders aren’t privy to what promoted employees need, that’s where turnover can happen.
And the cost of turnover for these types of workers is more significant than you may think. These roles are usually higher-level, meaning that qualified talent may be even harder to find and keep, and salary expectations will be higher, too.
The best way to ensure that you’re promoting workers in the most effective way possible is to come up with a game plan before you begin the promotion process. Amy Leschke-Kahle, VP of Talent Insights and Innovation at ADP, lays out some steps to make sure you’re doing promotions right from beginning to end.
Supporting promoted employees starts long before the actual promotion takes place. The definition of a promotion – and what it entails – should be established and documented somewhere, such as an employee handbook, so that everyone is on the same page.
“Before promotions, organizations need to clearly define ‘promotion’ and its related processes and then adhere to them,” says Leschke-Kahle. “Too often, promotions are used as one-offs, which can leave other employees wondering why they didn’t get a pay increase or new job title and understandably questioning what their future with the organization could be.”
Along with company-wide processes, you also need to consider the individual employee. “It’s easy to assume that everyone wants to be promoted but that’s not always the case,” says Leschke-Kahle. “An employee may want to stay in their current position, advance but in an individual contributor role. The most effective way to find out is to ask, being mindful to leave space for an open and honest conversation.”
During the promotion, it’s essential to have an interactive conversation with the employee about how they feel and what they need. “Providing training necessary for the new role before the employee is promoted … will better prepare them and highlight how important their success is to the business,” says Leschke-Kahle. “Waiting weeks or months to provide training often results in the newly promoted employee having to unlearn and then relearn.”
After the promotion
The most important time to support promoted employees can be after the transition has been made. Employees are often left to their own devices, learning the ropes for the first time and trying to do it all without complaint.
That can make them hesitant to reach out for help, making it essential to be proactive during this time. Here are three action steps that Leschke-Kahle recommends after an employee has been promoted.
- Establish an onboarding period. “It’s tempting to have the newly promoted employee jump right into their new role. Unfortunately, this can result in the employee having to make hasty decisions, setting a tone that might not be in alignment with the team, and feeling as if they’re not prepared for the new role,” says Leschke-Kahle. Instead, allowing employees an in-between period to let them get to know their new team, new work and new manager can make a significant difference.
“HR needs to hold firm to giving newly promoted employees a window of time to ramp up and settle in, even if that means having the hiring manager do some of the work for a period of time,” says Leschke-Kahle.
- Increase the frequency of check-ins. “The manager should be having intentional check-ins at least once a week with the newly promoted employee,” says Leschke-Kahle. “These check-ins don’t need to be long, but they do need to be intentional and focused on near-term priorities and any support the employee might need.” That way, managers can catch any concerns that an employee may have with their new role and provide guidance to mitigate them.
- Give them space to make the role their own. With all the guidance and check-ins, managers also need to find a balance to give the promoted employee some room to breathe. “Give the promoted person the time, space and flexibility to make the new position their own,” says Leschke-Kahle. “Their best work will look different, sound different and feel different than the predecessors. Helping them be their unique best is the most impactful work you can do as a leader.”