Don’t Celebrate Promotions

An all too common mistake businesses make when promoting employees is this:

Promotions are celebrated.

man and woman shaking hands

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Actually, a promotion should be the opposite; not a reward, but instead positioned as a massive challenge, opportunity, substantially increased responsibility and – consequently – a job with significantly higher expectations.

The fact is if you position a promotion as a reward without adding additional responsibility and expectations, then you’re just paying somebody more money without getting anything more in return. When you give, you must always ask for – and expect – more.

When I hear CEOs and business owners complain that their managers and executives aren’t giving them what they need, I tell them to look in the mirror. Did they clearly set out increased goals, objectives and expectations? Do these newly promoted employees understand their newly established responsibility for excellence?

If a promotion is merely a reward for a job well done, then we’ve defined insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

That’s why merely doing a great job is not reason enough for promotion. (It may be reason enough for a larger bonus, or a higher salary level next year, but not a promotion).

This is where selection of new employees and continual identification of high potentials becomes critical.  You’re not looking merely to promote a competent employee; you’re looking for the people with an aptitude and ability to lead and take everything they do to the next level.  There’s always a higher level of expectation and demand on management that’s simply not there for the average employee.

Those expectations and demands are why newly promoted employees get the fancy title and corner office.  And that’s why the expectations are higher and the consequences must be both substantial and immediate.

When you promote an employee, congratulate them and then remind them – it’s a new world of increased expectations.  What got that person to this point is not what will get them to the next.

So the correct attitude for businesses when promotion an employee is

Promotions are celebrated.

Promotions should be positioned as a challenge with increased expectations.

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