Managing Promotions in an organization

Promotions and transfers are integral parts of most people’s careers. Promotions traditionally refer to advancements to positions of increased responsibility; transfers are reassignments to similar positions in other parts of the firm.

Making Promotion Decisions:

Most working people look forward to promotions, which usually mean more pay, responsibility, and (often) job satisfaction. For employers, promotions can provide opportunities to reward exceptional performance, and fill open position with tested and loyal employees. Yet the promotion process isn’t always appositive experience for either employee or employer. Unfairness, arbitrariness, or secrecy can diminish the effectiveness of the process for all concerned. Several decisions, therefore, loom large in any firm’s promotion process.

Is Seniority or Competence the Rule?

Probably the most important decision is whether to base promotion on seniority or competence, or some combination of the two.

Today’s focus on competitiveness favors competence, as does the fact that promotion based on competence is the superior motivator. However, a company’s ability to use competence as the criterion depends on several things, most notably whether or not union agreements or civil service requirement governs promotions. Union agreements sometimes contain clauses that emphasize seniority, such as: In the advancement of employees to higher paid jobs when ability, merit, and capacity are equal, employees with the highest seniority will be given preference. And civil service regulations that stress seniority rather than competence often govern promotion in many public sector organizations.

How should Competence be measured?

If the firm opts for competence, how should it define and measure competence? Defining and measuring past performance is relatively straight forwards: Define the job, set standards, and use one or more appraisal tools to record performance. But promotions require something more: You also need a valid procedure for predicting a candidate’s future performance.

Most employers use prior performance as a guide, and assume that (based on his or her prior performance) the person will do well on the new job. This is the simplest procedure. Other use tests or assessment centers to evaluate employees who can be considered for promotion and to identify those with executive potential.

An increasing number of employees take amore comprehensive approach. For example (particularly given the public safety issues involved), police departments have traditionally taken a relatively systematic approach when evaluating candidates for promotion to command positions. Traditional promotional reviews include a written knowledge test, an assessment center, credit for seniority, and a score based on recent performance appraisal ratings. Other departments are adding personal records review. This includes evaluation of job-related dimensions such as supervisory-related education and experience, ratings from multiple sources, and systematic evaluation of behavioral evidence.

Is the process Formal or Informal?

Many firms have informal promotion processes. They may or may not post open positions, and key managers may use their own “unpublished” criteria to make decisions. Here employees may (reasonably) conclude that factors like “who you know” are more important than performance, and that working hard to get ahead at least in this firm is futile.

Promotion policy may contain the following in general:

The basis of promotion can be merit seniority or merit cum seniority. Merit can be judged by tests to be used to measure merit and potentiality, norms to measure the seniority on the job in the department, in the organization etc. Clear guidelines should also be framed for computing overall seniority.

Consideration must also be given when the employees work in different jobs, departments, organizations on deputation etc. Seniority should be clearly specified whether it is job seniority, departmental seniority, zonal seniority or organizational seniority.

The weight ages to be given for merit and seniority if the basis of merit-cum-seniority will be followed for promotion. Other criteria to be taken into consideration in case two or more employees are assigned the same rank.

Promotion policy should contain the groups of jobs with same job requirements, class of the jobs based on the level of skill requirements. Establishment of clear cut promotional channels from one level of job to another, from one department to another, one unit to another and from one region to another.

Necessary qualifications, level of performance on the present job, level of potentialities to be possessed by employees to be considered for promotion.

Promotion policy should also contain alternatives to promotion when deserving candidates are not promoted due to lack of vacancies at higher level. These alternatives include up gradation, re- designation, sanctioning of higher pay or increments or allowances assigning new and varied responsibilities to the employee by enriching the job or enlarging job.

Provision should be made for immediate relief of the promoted candidates by their present superiors or heads of the departments.

Many employers establish formal, published promotion polices and procedures. These have several components. Employees get a formal promotion policy describing the criteria by which the firm awards promotions. A job posting policy states the firm will post open positions and their requirements, and circulate these to all employees. Many employers also maintain employee qualification briefs, and use replacement charts and computerized employee information systems.

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