The Managing Promotion Requests Approach

Imagine you are a manager and a team member is pressing you about their promotion prospects. The person may have certain strengths that mean they are a good candidate for a role. There may be other times when a person needs to up their game.

The ‘In Order To Be
Considered’ Approach

When appropriate, one approach is to describe what a person needs to do in order to be considered for a particular role. This does not, of course, guarantee they will get the role.

One manager I worked with used this approach after feeling under pressure from a particularly challenging team member. They explained this in the following way.

“The person is ambitious and at time does good work. But they can also cause problems. They are not good at managing upwards and they sometimes upset their colleagues.

“They keep asking about when they can get promoted. Sometimes they refer to how their friends in the same age group are getting promoted in other companies.

“The company is going through challenging times and I can’t guarantee that anybody will get promoted. In the past I have also been caught out by people thinking they will get promotion if they achieve certain things.”

Bearing these things in mind, we focused on the kind of script the manager could use to in the situation. Whilst the manager adapted this in their own way, here are the main messages they gave to the person.

“It is good that you are ambitious. In order to be considered for such a position, however, a person would need to do the following things.

“First, they would be good at managing their key stakeholders in the company – such as their manager and other senior managers. These stakeholders would be saying some of the following things.

‘The person demonstrates strategic thinking. They see things from the company’s point of view rather than just their own. They also proactively keep us informed about their progress towards achieving their part of the company’s goals.’

“Second, they would be good at helping their customers to achieve success. These customers would be saying some of the following things.

‘The person acts as a true partner and understands our business goals. They provide great service and practical help that enables us to achieve success.’

“Third, they would be well regarded by their colleagues in the company. These colleagues would be saying some of the following things.

‘The person is positive and encourages other people in the company. They are good at helping their colleagues and the whole team to achieve success.’

Let me know if you would like to work towards demonstrating some of these things. This would increase the chances of at some point being considered for such a role.”

This is an approach that aims to give a person clear messages about what they need to do to be considered for promotion. There can be several outcomes.

The person reflects and decides to work
towards demonstrating these qualities.

If appropriate, the manager and others can help them to work towards achieving these aims. As mentioned, however, this does not guarantee they will get promotion.

The person may choose not to work
towards demonstrating these qualities.

It may well be that they choose to make a good contribution in their present role. If they do not perform, however, then there may be the need for another type of conversation.

Another Use Of The ‘In Order
To Be Considered’ Approach

One person applied elements of this approach in reverse. They did this when exploring what they would need to do to be considered for promotion.

At the time they were delivering great work and also doing elements of a more senior role. They wanted to explore the future possibilities.

At the same time, they did not want to back their boss into a corner. Bearing this in mind, they said something along the following lines.

“Looking ahead, I wonder if at some point we could have a chat about my future contribution to the company. As you know, I want to continue to contribute to help us to achieve success.

“Whilst you may not be able to answer, I would like to explore the specific things I need to do to be considered for a particular role in the future.

“Again, this may not be the opportune time. But, if possible, I would like to explore this sometime in the future.”

Different people would obviously position such a conversation in different ways. If possible, however, the aim would be to get some indication of the desired behaviours but not to back the boss into a corner.

Let’s return to your own work. Looking ahead, can you think of a specific situation where you may want to use elements of the managing promotion requests approach?

What may be the specific situation? How can you follow this approach in your own way in the situation? What may happen as a result of taking these steps?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

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