Promotions That Change Lives


A close colleague recently received a well-deserved promotion, and I am thrilled for her and her manager.  I believe that this sort of thing – “promotion” in the very best sense of the word – has the power to change careers … and lives.

Why Promotions Matter

It’s always nice to get a raise (more money) or a promotion (a loftier title and/or higher-level job responsibilities), of course.  But I find that when done thoughtfully and purposefully, it can be much more than a “nice to have” or a brief shot-in-the-arm for morale purposes.  In my friend’s case, the promotion:

  • Showed her that she and her contributions were valued by the organization
  • Gave her increased standing and confidence to interact with clients, colleagues, and vendors on a more equal footing as professional peers
  • Changed her own thinking about what future steps her career might hold in store —what possibilities could become realities for her
  • Increased her already strong appreciation for her manager, knowing that he had gone to bat for her when he didn’t have to
  • And, in part that she’s not aware of yet, the promotion sets her up for other jobs (inside and outside the company) for which holding her new title/level is an unstated (but very real) requirement.

In the manager’s case, the promotion demonstrated:

  • The type of leader he is and strives to be – someone who recognizes the good work of his team members in meaningful ways
  • He is someone who promotes and advocates for (rather than is threatened by) his team members
  • He is someone worthy of his team member’s trust.

A Counter-Example

Unfortunately, I’ve seen many managers who’ve taken the opposite tack – who are threatened by their employees’ success, or who are sadly unaware of their employees’ needs, and who place promotion and employee advocacy as one of the lowest of priorities.  As one example:

I once supported a senior manager who could never be persuaded that a hard-working analyst rightfully deserved a promotion from “Analyst I” to “Analyst II” (a very minor promotion in our compensation and title system at the time).  Her reasoning was, “If I give her that promotion, she’s just going to take the higher salary and stop producing.”  She was going to stop working hard because of a $2,000 raise and a title change from a “I” to a “II” – really?  Not surprisingly, when the promotion didn’t happen, the analyst kept doing good work … and two months later left for a company that seemed more likely to value and appreciate her efforts – costing us much more than $2,000 in lost productivity, to say the very least, in addition to the negative morale created when her colleagues saw that she was poorly treated.

How Promotions Change Lives

Well-deserved promotions change how people see themselves (as people and professionals), how they feel about their relationship with their boss and their company, and the confidence with which they take on new challenges in the future.  In many ways, a promotion says as much – if not more – about the company and the boss making the promotion as it does about the individual being promoted.  In the end, it says “We lift people up” – and that can never do anything but increase and empower all concerned.  Promotions: good for people … good for companies.

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