Promoting Staff within Small Business – How to Set Yourself Up for Success

Wednesday March 10, 2021

On the surface, staff promotion in a small business might seem like a straightforward process with few complications – an employee is performing well, therefore it’s only fair to reward their hard work, right? In doing so, your team member will be motivated to work even harder, helping your small business reach even greater successes.

Unfortunately, promotion within a small business isn’t quite as simple as all that. While the employee you’ve promoted may feel inspired to work harder for the business, their colleagues might not feel similarly motivated. They may feel overlooked, unappreciated and disappointed in your leadership skills. In fact, it’s been shown that 53% of employees believe promotions are unfair.

That’s why promotion in a small business needs to be handled by a skilled team leader who is sensitive and understanding of the needs of the workforce as a whole. At the heart of this promotion strategy is communication – maintaining an open, honest dialogue with your team.

Here’s a guide to a successful promotion strategy in a small business:

  1. Get to know your team before “promotion” is even an issue. As a small business leader, you’re in the privileged position of being able to get to know your employees individually. Don’t wait until you’re looking to promote to find out what each person’s strengths, weaknesses and passions are – take the time to find out early on!
  1. Share news of the promotion and the accompanying selection criteria with the team. You know a position is becoming available within the business, or you’ve seen the need to create a new position. Share this with the team. Discuss the possibilities with them – should a person be recruited from outside, or is a promotion from within more feasible? What skills and experience will this role require? How many hours per week? Be open and honest from the outset. By doing so, you’re opening the opportunity to everyone and helping them prepare their application.
  1. Schedule one-on-on meetings with prospective candidates. It doesn’t have to be a formal interview – it’s simply about giving each employee the opportunity to be heard and ask any questions they may have about the role. Be clear about the requirements of the role – that way, if an employee is unsuccessful, they’ll know why. Arrange meetings with individuals who haven’t put their hand up for the position – they may lack the confidence to put themselves forward.
  1. Avoid secrecy. When you’ve made a decision, share the news with the entire team. Don’t try and soften the blow – celebrate the person who has been promoted, providing examples of why they were successful. Explain how this person’s promotion benefits the entire team.
  1. Provide constructive feedback. After the announcement has been made, make time to talk to the unsuccessful employees. Explain why they weren’t selected for promotion and what they can do to achieve promotion in the future. Help the employee understand that they’re still valued within the company.
  1. Ensure that the person who has been promoted possesses the appropriate leadership skills, especially if they’re going from “colleague” to “boss”.

The HR Dept can help with this: we provide Leadership Training that’s proven to produce positive results.

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