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Business Coaching and Promotions

When Should a Manager Promote a Staff Member?
A female employee being told about a promotion at work

The subject of promotions is often a tricky one for managers to deal with. Sometimes they will feel pressured by employees to promote someone simply for the sake of it, or use the promotion as a carrot and a reward for a good performance in a project. Sometimes managers feel that they ought to promote someone just because of the amount of time that they have been working for the business.

Rather than a reward for loyalty/endurance or a prize for a one-off performance, a promotion should only be offered when the business case demands it and the person has earned the right to it through consistently high performance levels and achievement with the company.

As far as the business case is concerned, promotions should only be made when there is a need to do so, such as a requirement to replace a manager who has left the company or to fill a position that has been created through a change in strategy or new sales channel being opened. Employees who are promoted to a higher level expect and almost demand a higher salary or rewards to accompany their elevated status, which will obviously increase the financial burden upon the business. If the promotion is not justified in terms of benefiting the business and being necessary for the accomplishment of its goals then it will ultimately be detrimental for the company.

How can Business Coaching Help With Regards to Promotions?

Making use of business coaching sessions can help in a couple of different ways regarding promotions. Firstly it can provide an opportunity to discuss with any employee who is becoming unhappy at a lack of promotion as to why it has not been forthcoming and may not be anytime soon. Discussing situations with employees rather than keeping them in the dark over decisions can significantly improve their acceptance of circumstances and can prevent a severe decline in motivation and output from them.

A female manager and female employee shaking hands

Secondly, a manager can get a far greater understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of an individual does not actually want to be promoted because they are quite happy doing the job role which they currently have.

Thirdly, for those who do desire promotion and have a manager who is receptive to the idea, business coaching can be utilised to create an action plan for certain objectives and criteria to be fulfilled in order for the employee to reach a level where they are ready to be promoted to the position. This can include additional training and development courses such as a management course, or taking on responsibility for a particular department or operation for a short period of time to see how they cope with it before being given the task properly.

Preparing Employees to be Ready for Promotion

Preparing for Change in Business

The business environment is constantly changing, with new developments and opportunities opening (and closing) all of the time. Factors such as consumer buying habits, advances in technology and government legislation can quickly change and catch unprepared companies out, resulting in a drop in sales and revenue.

To both respond to this change and, more preferably, see it coming and pre-empt potential problems before they arise, a company can position itself in a much stronger position than its competitors with regards to dealing with a changing business landscape.

Change Can Lead to Opportunities

A business attempting to prepare and position itself for adapting to changing conditions needs to ensure that its employees are ready for any promotion opportunities which come their way. Rather than a reward for longevity or simply as a result of persistent nagging, promotions should only be proffered when there is a genuine business need for a person to fill a particular job role or responsibility.

Training and Business Coaching Needs to be Provided in Plenty of Time for Any Major Upheaval

External factors can change remarkably quickly in the commercial world which means it is essential that management prepares its staff for these changes, as well as drawing up contingency plans for alternatives and possibilities which may never materialise.

A female worker feeling stressed sat on a train

One area which needs attention is in the preparation of certain staff members for the potential promotion that may come with a change of business activities or employee structure. It is imperative that they have received suitable coaching and relevant training courses in order to provide them with the skills they will need to fulfil the new role to a suitable standard. Any failure to provide them with these skills beforehand will meant that they can be thrust into a new role and be unprepared or ill-equipped with the required skills demanded by the position.

In this situation they can not only fail in carrying out the work sufficiently, but can also become overwhelmed which leads to unhappiness, demotivation and even possible health issues such as stress in some cases as they struggle to cope with the situation.

Managers Need to Look Forward and Try to Anticipate Changes Before They Happen

Despite the importance of preparing employees for potential promotion, many managers and directors fail to do this.

The two main reasons for not preparing staff members for promotion are either a shortsightedness in failing to foresee a future requirement for that staff member to be promoted into a higher role, or because there is so little spare capacity or the employee is so vital to the current function of the business that they simply cannot afford to have them take time out in order to attend a training course or business coaching.

Whilst concentrating on the present may be necessary in order to maintain production levels and bring in vital revenue, it is important that management tries as hard as possible to accommodate the training and development of even the most important staff members in terms of the functioning of the business in order to prepare them for any changes to their role and responsibilities within the organisation at a future point in time.

A failure to keep one eye on the future and the possible challenges and potential opportunities for the business can ultimately lead to problems occurring one day and missed opportunities for extra sales and revenue growth.

Business Coaching for Promotions Which May Never Occur

Business Coaching and Preparing a Worker for Promotion

Business coaching is important for preparing employees for promotions, in terms of outlining the requirements of what is expected of them and how actions often speak louder than words.

As mentioned in some of the other coaching articles on this site, the best employees to promote are the ones who already display the skills that will be needed to perform well and produce the results expected of a person in the elevated job role, as opposed to people who simply ask for a promotion without showing any of these abilities or attributes.

Training Courses are Likely to be Required

There will be some employees though who do not either have a natural aptitude for these skills, or have not had any experience during the past in applying them at work. It may therefore be necessary for them to receive training in certain interpersonal skills in order to both understand their importance and effectiveness for achieving success, along with how to effectively apply them in workplace situations.

For those who will be managing people for the first time, a first line manager training course will provide attendees with the tools and information needed to begin their journey as a new manager.

Even With Staff Development, a Promotion May Not Be Forthcoming

Whilst it is important for managers to develop the skills of their employees through training, development and coaching in order to benefit the company as a whole in terms of helping it achieve its' goals and objectives, it is also necessary to prepare them for future advancement by giving them the skillsets which they may need for career progression. However it is also necessary for them to convey to employees that whilst they are learning skills which they may need should they be promoted, this promotion will only come if it will be of benefit to the business and they have shown themselves to be the right person for the position.

This can be done through business coaching meetings in which the manager explains that although they are receiving training and development to increase their skills and ability in areas which may be used should they get promoted, this does by no means guarantee them a promotion and to understand that it may never actually occur.

Why Managers Should Not Promise Promotions

Why is it Important for a Business to Develop Its Employees?
A stressed employee drinking on the job and shouting on the phone

The development of employees and staff members is important for any business. Not only will it help to increase their proficiency in their current job role, but training courses will provide them with new skills which they will utilise should they be given a promotion at some point in the future.

By failing to provide these training and development opportunities, managers may discover that if and when the need arises for an internal staff member to step up and take on the responsibilities of a new position within the company the individual will be unprepared to deal with the new demands.

Managers would then have to either put up with an underperforming staff member and department, or would have to seek out an external candidate who does have the necessary skills which would be time-consuming and expensive in terms of the required recruitment process.

Promising Promotions Can Lead to Trouble Later On Down the Line

Whilst managers need to provide training and development for their employees in order to furnish them with the skills needed to function in a new job role, it is also important that they do not promise the employee a promotion at the end of the training process. This development should be provided not only to increase their current abilities in the job role they are already doing, but also to prepare them for any possible promotion which may arise.

By promising a promotion to an employee, the manager can find themselves in one of the following awkward situations:

  • Circumstances change and there is no longer the requirement for a person to fill a new position within the company. The manager will have to backtrack on their decision to promote the employee, which will cause disappointment, anger, resentment, demotivation, and a breakdown of trust between the manager and their employee.
  • After or during the course of the training it becomes apparent that the individual is not suitable for implementing the skills and ideas taught on the training sessions, and that in all honesty they would not be suitable for the new position. Again, the manager will be forced to renege on their promise, resulting in all of the possible negatives mentioned in the first point above.

Training and Development Should be Provided to All Employees

Promotions should not be promised by managers, nor should they be expected by employees. Instead, training and development should be provided as a matter of course to expand the knowledge and capabilities of employees so that not only will they become more proficient at the current job role, but will be able to step up and fulfil the criteria and demands of any promotion which arises as a result of changing circumstances within the business.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words for Promotion

Consistently Good Performance is a Key Factor in Promotion Potential

Part of a manager's business coaching discussions with their staff members and employees should convey the message over to them that, when it comes to promotion potential, actions speak louder than words.

Rather than a person constantly badgering their employer to be promoted to an elevated position, they will more often than not stand a greater chance of success if they focus their efforts on producing good work rather than on simply talking and asking the question.

The Step Up to Management

Promotions will almost always be to some form of managerial or supervisory level where the person will be responsible for looking after others in a particular team, project or department. This means in their new managerial position that they will be putting into effect particular skills such as:

  • Self-discipline and self-motivation
  • Organisational skills
  • Time management skills
  • Using and taking initiative and responsibility
  • Leadership
  • Developing strong working relations with others both above and below them in the corporate hierarchy

Promote on Ability, Not Length of Service to the Company

Promotions should be given in response to a business requirement and that employee's ability to fit that need, rather than in response to requests from individuals or as a right or reward for long service. Just because the employee has been with the company for a long time does not mean that they will be suitable or effective in a management, supervisor or team leader role.

Who Should be Promoted to a Management or Supervisor Position?

The most obvious candidates for any promotion opportunities which may come up will be the ones who are already demonstrating an aptitude for fulfilling the requirements of the elevated position; specifically the skills listed in the bullet points above.

When an employee is already putting into practice these abilities and showing a talent for them, promoting them is an easy and logical step for a manager to take when it would make good business sense and be of a benefit to the business to do so. By conveying this information to employees during a business coaching meeting it should not only prevent them from asking for a promotion because they feel it is owed to them, but will hopefully get them to put into practice some or all of the interpersonal skills listed above which will have the effect of benefiting the business with regards to achieving its goals.

Business Coaching and Development - Does the Employee Want to Advance?

Some Employees are Happy With the Status Quo
An unmotivated worker wanting more money

In order for business coaching and training to be truly effective at developing an employee, it is necessary for that individual to actually want to further and advance their career and personal development.

Whilst for some the progression of their career will be of paramount importance and their number one objective, other members of staff will be perfectly content with the current status quo and will not be interested in taking on additional responsibilities or other tasks to those which they are currently doing.

If this is the case, then these employees are likely to be extremely reluctant to take part in receiving business coaching or attend training courses with the intention of increasing their skills and abilities at work so that they can move into a different role.

The Willingness of Employees Has a Big Effect on the Effectiveness of Coaching

So not only will some be apathetic to the efforts of management to provide them with training and support, there will be many who in this situation will be actively resistant to these plans. For these employees, the effectiveness of any training or business coaching provided will be limited as the individual will not come with an attitude to learn or implement changes to their current workplace activities.

Managers Ultimately Have the Final Say On The Matter

Of course, managers are the ones who make the decisions on the direction of the company and which staff should be working in which departments and on which tasks.

Employees who refuse to do what they are instructed to do, either surreptitiously or openly, run the risk of losing their job. Whilst they may enjoy the current way of things, it is a fact of life that nothing remains the same forever and that change at some point is inevitable.

Whilst an employee may not want to advance their career or do different tasks within the company, they may find themselves facing the choice of either complying or leaving, either of their own accord or being made redundant.

Business Coaching for Change Management

Along with career and personal development, business coaching can be a great tool to assist with change management and the transition from one job role to another.

The sessions may also prove to be surprisingly beneficial for the employee, as they will be able to openly discuss their apprehensions and worries with the manager or business coach, and may go some way to changing their way of thinking regarding alterations to their work duties.

About Us

The BCF Group have evolved from the Business Coaching Foundation, which was established in 2001. We have leadership development and business coaching at our core. Having representation from global learning leads, executive coaches and talent development specialists, we deliver accredited people development programs.

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