Promoting from within can be a great career progression incentive – it’s incredibly motivating for an employee to know that if they meet all their targets they are in line for a promotion and often means people stay at the company longer.
But… it can be tricky to announce a promotion to the wider team who might feel they’ve been overlooked for their colleague’s new job title, particularly for members of staff who have seen multiple team promotions but not received one themselves. Resentment can breed all too easily and teams can fall apart if this isn’t dealt with swiftly and suitable.
As the manager, it is your job to ensure that any promotions within a team - especially if an employee is being promoted to a position where they manage people who were previously their peers - are handled with sensitivity, respect and transparency.
Here are my three pieces of advice for announcing promotions without rocking the boat:
Plan ahead – don’t wait for things to fall apart
When evaluating all your candidates for the promotion, look at the team relationships closely – does your preferred candidate have a close friendship with any of their peers that might be affected? Not to say that you shouldn’t promote someone who has a friend on the team, but you both need to be prepared to deal with the potential fallout. Or do they already take the lead on team projects, in which case the wider team may already have guessed they are in line for a promotion?
Take some time to think about how you will make the announcement – you know your team best and should be able to decide whether anyone needs to be given a heads up in private instead of reading it in a group email. Brief the successful candidate on how you envision them making the transition to their new role and offer them your support before you make the announcement. They are likely to find the shift challenging and will need you in their corner to provide advice, guidance and support, particularly if they have to deal with team resentment.
Transparency and communication are key
Once you've made your decision and informed the successful candidate, inform the unsuccessful team members face-to-face. Be honest but constructive with them about why they weren't selected and give praise where it’s due if you think they have potential for a promotion in the coming months or year. Judge how long you need to wait to make an announcement based on their reactions – if anyone is really devastated it can be helpful to give them a day or two to settle.
Pay attention to the team – they might need more support than usual
This means the newly promoted employee as well as the wider team, who might take some time to get used to the change. If you don’t already have them, organise regular catch-ups to see how they're finding the transition and uncover any challenges they're facing. Be patient with frustrated members of staff but try and remember the reasons you chose the successful candidate and stick by your decision.
If anyone’s engagement or enthusiasm takes a dive, have an honest chat with them about the shift in their attitude and performance. It's understandable they may feel a bit deflated, but if their disappointment has eroded their enthusiasm for the job you need to address this early on. Stay positive in your feedback to them and do what you can to motivate them on an individual level.
Accept that some may choose to move on though – this is a natural reaction and can be a positive move for the employee and a chance to bring fresh talent to the team.
Have you been overlooked for a promotion before? Or have you had to deal with team fallout after you’ve announced a promotion? How did you deal with the situation? Let us know in the comments section below.
Remember the three most important aspects of announcing promotions without rocking the boat are:
- Plan ahead so you're prepared for any potential fallout
- Be transparent and communicate with all involved
- Pay attention to the whole team and support them when they need you most