Friday, 14.10.2022

Promotion by… acquisitive prescription is a common mistake of employers

While I have been observing the labour market for years – both small and medium-sized companies - I have been noticing, time and again, a phenomenon that I have called ’promotion by seniority'. Why is this a mistake and what are the consequences? If you think that the promotion of a senior employee is always a motive for further development, you might be surprised.

Imagine an employee who has been with the company for many years. He or she is often poorly or moderately efficient and has had the same or similar responsibilities for a long time. Frequently, such a worker has symptoms of reduced commitment and sometimes even burnout. When it comes to skills, they have usually been at a similar level for years, so due to lack of development such an employee is basically falling back. I can’t judge why because usually it’s complex situations.

The fact is, however, that the employee I am describing is often an employee who is entranched in the company, who knows the other employees and the rules of the organisation well. The problem, however, is that this person often does not have a specific idea for advancement and the employer sees giving him or her a promotion as the only way to reward them for long-term commitment and motivate to further involvement. That is what I call promotion by seniority.

Career advancement should be a reward for results, achievements, growth and added value for the company. Long-term employees are valuable, often rooted in the company’s DNA but their seniority and loyalty cannot be the main reasons for getting promoted. Promotion by seniority leads to . . . inertia and even deeper “planting” in your comfort zone.

This action does not result in the employee suddenly getting wings, absorbing knowledge and becoming the employee of the year. There may be exceptions but more often than not this type of promotion does not change anything.

In addition, the employee is taught that going outside the box is a situation that is not rewarded in the organisation and also affects their comfort zone.

What is the solution?

Each situation is individual but the principle of rewarding employees for results, not just for seniority must be applied consistently by employers. For employees, this is a clear signal that growth is necessary and that they either decide to acquire new skills in the existing company or try out a new job elsewhere.

One thing is certain, without changes there is no development. If you are thinking of new challenges as a specialist or manager or are looking for new employees for your company, please do not hesitate to contact our consultants.