How to Recognise that an Employee is Ready for Promotion


It’s important that employees are rewarded for their efforts. Nothing is as demotivating as not being acknowledged for a job well-done. If work isn’t appreciated, it could lead to a decrease in job performance, or even losing employees all together.

An important way to reward good work is though promotion. However, while doing a good job is a key reason for promotion, it’s not the only requirement. It would be a big mistake to promote someone before they’re ready. Here’s how you know it’s time.

They consistently do a good job

Yes, you want to be on the lookout for someone who does a good job. But you want to see someone who displays consistently commendable behaviour. Do they always put their best foot forward, or are they only now and then worthy of more? What’s more, they should be performing well even when no one is looking. Even when they aren’t being patted on the back every step of the way.

If not, they might need some more time to mature. Take the candidate aside and let them know that you’ve noticed their good work, and that if they continue doing well there will be good things ahead. This could encourage them to always try their best. 

They can be trusted with the responsibilities they currently have

Remember the parable about the talents?

A rich man was going way and so decided to entrust his property to his servants in his absence. One servant received five talents (a talent was a unit of money, not a special skill), the second two talents, and the third only one talent. When their master returned, he checked up on how they handled their responsibilities.

The first two servants explained that they had each put their money to work and increased its value. The last servant, however, who only received one talent, said he only kept it hidden safe somewhere, without doing anything with it. The rich man was none too pleased with this though (actually, his words were “you wicked and slothful servant”), taking his meagre talent away and giving it to the servant who had originally been given the most.

The morale of the story – if someone can’t be trusted with even the small responsibilities they are given, how can they be given more responsibility?

If an employee wants a more important position, perhaps because they feel their skills are being wasted where they currently are, fair enough. But if they aren’t doing their best with the responsibilities they already have, you can’t really give them more.

Another way to interpret the morale is that you shouldn’t only evaluate what a candidate does with their main responsibilities. Also look at what they are doing with the small stuff.

They have the skills

This point is obvious, but it bears mentioning that there are two aspects to consider. Firstly, does the candidate have additional skills that over-qualify them for their current position or which are under utilised? Have they made an effort to increase their skill?

However, you should also consider if they have the necessary skills for the particular promotion in question. They may have additional skills, but that doesn’t mean that they’re ready for a specific promotion. If they want to upskill themselves, try guiding them in the right direction. For instance, taking supervisory training courses to get ready for management.

In summary: it’s about not only doing a good job but consistently doing a good job, even when no one is looking; proving to be trustworthy with current responsibilities, even the small stuff; and having the right skills for the job.

Then it might be a good time for a promotion. 

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