January 30, 2018

How can you use promotions to improve company culture?


Yes, we all know the value of company culture. It improves engagement (80 per cent of employees who are inspired by their company culture are engaged at work, according to Virgin Pulse), as well as turnover (the same survey reports companies with poor cultures are four times more likely to experience a loss in talented workers).

But you don’t have to build a Google-esque office climbing wall just yet. In fact, a Harvard Business Review (HBR) study has found there’s something much simpler you can be doing to give your company culture a boost – ensure your promotions process is fair and transparent.

Improving your promotions process can have a huge impact on culture, and it involves spending much less than Google
You don’t have to spend as much money as Google to have a great culture – improving your promotions process is a great place to start.

Promotions and performance go hand-in-hand

In a survey of over 400,000 U.S. employees, the HBR found that when people believe promotions are managed effectively, they’re more than twice as likely to put in extra effort at work and plan a long-term future with their company. They’re also five times as likely to believe their leaders act with integrity.

However, even the best companies find it difficult to manage promotions in a way that is perceived to be fair. In a survey of the HBR’s 100 Best Companies to work for in America, 75 per cent of employees believe promotions go to the people who deserve them best. Although this sounds high, it actually ranks as the third-lowest of the 58 items the HBR uses to assess these organisations.

Improving your promotions process

So, given that promotions have such a clear impact on employee performance and company success, what can you do to ensure promotions are as fair as possible?

1) Get to know your employees’ aspirations from the get-go

When you take the helm of a new team, it’s best to sit down one-on-one with each staff member and find out what their career ambitions are. This should be their goals both at your company but also their much longer term aspirations.

You should also pin down team members’ current role, and what gaps in knowledge and responsibilities need to be filled before they can progress onto the next step in their career ambitions. Once you’ve worked this out, you can find training opportunities and extra responsibilities that will help them gain the experience necessary for promotion.

Key to fair promotions is showing your employees you're doing everything you can to support their career goals.
Sitting down with your team members and finding out what their career aspirations are early on will enable you to support them better.

2) Encourage people to apply

There is often a perception in businesses that the promotion’s been decided before the job is even advertised. This can stop people who you thought would be a great candidate from applying. So as soon as a new position becomes available, encourage team members to apply, and give the ones that do decide to go for it advice on applications and training.

3) Focus on why, not who

When you do come to announce the promotion, ensure you focus on why the person was successful, citing real stories about how they’ve helped the company in the past and shown they have the skills necessary for the job.

4) Touch base with the rest of the team

It’s important to talk to those that were unsuccessful and even those that didn’t apply. For those that applied but weren’t ready for the role, decide together what you can both do to make sure they do have the necessary experience next time around.

If someone didn’t apply because they don’t see themselves at your company long-term, try and understand why they feel this way, and what you can do to help them feel more supported and happier in your company in future.

Are you ready for a promotion? Perhaps you want to move into the C-suite? The executive recruitment specialists at JacksonStone have years of experience finding the right people to take the helm at New Zealand’s best companies. For more information, contact us today.