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5 Things To Do When An Employee Asks For A Promotion

By Amy @BubbleJobs

At the start of every year, it goes without saying that pretty much every employee in every industry will be considering the future of their career and what the next 12 months has in store – and with that in mind, it’s no surprise that for some, there will be a realisation that they’re just not happy where they are.

If you’re a manager or run your own business, in addition to bracing yourself for a potential resignation or two this month, you’ll probably also need to prepare yourself for the possibility of a number of promotion or pay rise requests over the coming weeks as your employees look to take the future of their careers into their own hands.

Now, we’ve covered what to do if an employee resigns and what to do if an employee asks for a pay rise before on this blog – so today I thought I’d tackle the tricky issue of a promotion request and what you should (and shouldn’t do!) when this situation crops up.


1. Resist Saying ‘No’ Straight Away:

OK, so budgets might be tight and there might just not be room in your business right now to promote someone but you need to resist saying ‘no’ straight away. Why? Because by immediately refusing the request, you run the risk of belittling the employee and making them feel like you just don’t value them in your business.

Even if you know you can’t say ‘yes’, it’s important to still go through the processes so the employee feels like you value them and that you’re taking the request seriously – this way, even when you do say ‘no’ at the end, there’s a chance they’ll still want to continue working at your business.

2. Consider If There’s Room For Them To Be Promoted:

Before saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a promotion, you need to consider whether there’s actually room for them to be promoted in your current business. For example, if you only have 12 employees and you’ve already got eight managers, creating a ninth manager probably wouldn’t make sense.

That said; at this point in the year, it’s probably worth considering the structure of your whole business and seeing whether a complete shake-up is needed – for example, do you need to promote some of your management team to more senior positions and promote some of your executives to management positions?

3. Ask Them What A Promotion Means To Them & Why They Think They Deserve It:

When an employee asks for a promotion, it’s worth having a chat with them to see what this promotion would actually mean to them and why they think they deserve it. Does it mean more money? A better job title? More privileges?

A lot of the time an employee wants to feel like they’re progressing and they’re not stagnant in their career – and a promotion can be a great milestone, especially if this employee has been with your business for a long time. That said; while the majority of promotions do come with a hefty pay rise, for some, a small rise and more responsibility can be much more appealing.

It’s also important to ask your employee why they think they deserve the promotion because they might come up with a reason that you would have never thought of but which is a really valid reason.

4. Consider Their Performance & If You See Them In Your Business Moving Forwards:

When an employee asks for a promotion it’s a great excuse to give them a bit of a performance review and to consider their future at your business. Obviously you need to think about things such as their attitude, their performance and their commitment to their role and your business overall. If they’re under-performing in their current role, it goes without saying that a promotion probably isn’t the right solution!

When considering their performance and commitment, you also need to think about what they bring to your business – and how important they are to your company moving forwards. For example, if you don’t give them this promotion, would you be happy if they walked away and went to work elsewhere?

5. Consider What Effect A Promotion Would Have On The Rest Of Your Workforce: 

In addition to considering what effect giving or not giving a promotion would have on the employee themselves, you also need to consider what effect this promotion might have on the rest of your workforce moving forwards. If you granted this promotion, would you risk upsetting the rest of the team? And would it lead to an onslaught of promotion requests from the rest of your team?

Obviously, if you feel the employer deserves a promotion, it shouldn’t matter what the rest of the business thinks – however if you work in/run a small business, it’s definitely worth considering the repercussions, particularly if there’s a chance it could have an effect on your business and its output in the future.

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