How to make promotions without stress talks

Promotion conversations might be one of the toughest challenges for managers and employees. They led to unnecessary disputes between teammates and managers and even conflicts.

There are two main reasons why promotion conversations become challenging:

  • Lack of transparency in career opportunities and requirements to achieve them
  • Lack of understanding in employee skills development, achievements, and impact on business growth

Opportunity to grow in a company and clear career opportunities in №1 reason to stay in a company. Simultaneously, the uncertainty of a future career can be overwhelming for employees and led to leaving a job.

In such a situation, providing transparency, regular feedback, and the game's clear rules become the key responsibility for a manager.

The best way to live up to your commitments and get rid of career drama is to build trust and systematic process, not put out fires.

Build a process that drives employee-manager mutual trust

Just as in any relationship, to build trust between employee and manager, you need to:

  • сommunicate your expectations
  • consider the interests of others
  • give and receive regular feedback

Here we prepared 5 practices you need to implement in your team.

The skills or career matrix is an HR tool that every manager should adapt. It is an easy way to communicate what skills a company needs to grow the business and how employees can impact this.

But a career matrix is not just a list of skills. Each skill on a career matrix should have levels and requirements to achieve them.

It’s important to set clear requirements for every position in a company. Whether it’s junior, middle, or executive position, employees need to know where to head. As far as you implement the skills matrices for each position, you can use leveling system to make fair promotion and firing decisions.

And what more important employees can choose their own career path in a company, that fits with their interests and match with skills.

Phase 1 — ‘Transperant career opportunities’ is completed 🎉
Now everyone in your team have the common understanding on what positions they can take, and requirements to meet this. Now it’s easier for you to discuss whether a person is ready for a promotion or not.

An annual review is a great practice but enough. Especially wan average employees’ tenure in IT is 1,5 years. You need to build a feedback culture where everyone has regular reviews and an opportunity to ask for feedback at any time.

A review cycle helps you to keep up with employees’ skills and their personal development. Conducting such reviews regularly helps to have precise analytics on the team’s capacity and can plan promotions and hiring processes to close your team's skill gaps.

Employees get the feedback they need to understand how well they fit the position they want to take and adjust their development and performance to get a promotion or change career vector.

One of the common review problems is the lack of action after review and feedback. So your goal as a manager — make feedback actionable to develop skills effectively and manage growth expectations for every team member.

Set Personal Development Plan (PDP) for each employee with ambitious, meaningful goals to grow skills and performance required for the desired position.

Also, don’t forget to align company goals or OKR’s with employees’ personal development plans to help people understand the business impact.

Phase 2: ‘Growth loop’ is completed 🌱
Now your employees see their strengths and weaknesses, can fill skill gaps and achieve goals faster with clear steps.

The last step but not least is regular 1-on-1 meetings with your employees. Have 30-minutes meetings once a week to check on daily tasks, discuss challenges and achievements. And 1-hour monthly meetings to discuss review results and goals and personal development plan progress.

A 1:1 meeting should be an employee’s safe place to discuss their achievements and failures or ask for help to reach greater results.

Meetings help managers to build mutual trust between you and team members and make career growth predictable and transparent to everyone.

Phase 3: ‘Reflect and Communicate’ never stops 💫
Now your honest communication with your team is a habbit.

Now you might question yourself — does it worth the effort? Sure, it does. When your whole growth process is set, step by step, you will notice the following improvements:

  • Open and honest communication that enables understanding and mutual trust between managers and employees
  • Consistent and regular growth process that prevents employees and managers from unexpected leave, burnout, and lack of recognition
  • Confident and engaged employees who understand their roles and impact their career path
Oh, and check out Ted Lasso if you still haven’t seen it.

Co-founder & CEO Vectorly