For growing firms, the onset of a new year brings a new slate of goals to work towards, and challenges to overcome for you and your team. The beginning of the year is also a great time to promote people on your team who are performing exceptionally, so they can start the year off in the right position and mindset.
This month, we will look at how to identify candidates for promotion. Here are three signs to look for:
- They are already taking it to the next level.
- This one is straightforward and can easily be evaluated by comparing what your team member is doing, versus the written job descriptions that you have in place for each position within your firm. For example, if your Associate Financial Planner (AFP) is doing such a good job that most clients are reaching out to him/her first with their questions, and the AFP is delivering most of the advice to clients in response, they are already functioning in a Lead Advisor capacity, and perhaps it’s time to simply make it “official” and recognize their new role (and start transitioning some clients to them more formally!).
- They’re making valuable contributions to the organization beyond financial components.
- When someone brings in clients, increases revenue, assets under management, profitability, etc., it’s often a fairly clear-cut financial decision to move them up. However, consider these other valuable contributions and attributes outside of financial metrics only.
- Team Player – does the person come across as more concerned about everyone else’s wellbeing and success than their own? Are they seemingly always stepping up and taking on more work and responsibility than is required? Does he/she take constructive criticism without getting defensive, own up to their mistakes, and share the credit for a successful project?
- Positive Attitude – does the person express gratitude when things are not going their way, and/or the firm is going through tough times? Are they accepting and not complaining when asked to train the new hire, or take on existing work even when their plate is already full because it needs to be done? During peak times or when working on a major project, do they stay late or come in early without doing it begrudgingly and invigorate others to elevate their contributions as well?
- Innovative – Does the person challenge the status quo by bringing unsolicited ideas to improve the business. Are they overall spurring out-of-the-box thinking and embracing change?
- Skills Development – Does the person have an above-average level of conscientiousness, possess self-awareness of where their skills are lacking, and take necessary steps to shore up the appropriate areas without being told? Do they seek to understand the strategic parts of the business, and ask to be involved in the strategic planning and big picture items solidifying their ability to be long-term thinkers?
- They have asked for it.
- While some business owners find it awkward when team members ask for promotions, generally it is a good thing if people on your team are asking for new opportunities, as it’s a signal both of their own drive and aspirations and shows an intent to continue to grow with your company instead of leaving it. Of course, how they ask for the promotion matters, too. No business owner likes an entitlement mentality, when employees state “Last week was my work anniversary and I am ready for my promotion.” But pay attention to the mindset and attitude as they come to you with the request, and focus on someone who has a professional, humble and conscientious approach, such as asking: “I would like to move up, what do I need to be working on and how can I improve to move up here?” Versus an entitlement mentality like this “Last week was my work anniversary and I am ready for my promotion.”
The flip side to promotions, though, is that sometimes an employee asks for the opportunity… and you must deliver the news that they fell short in some areas. When you talk to them, strive for the in-person conversation like this:
- Team member (TM) – I think I am ready to be promoted to (insert position title) or I have been here for (insert number of years) so I am supposed to move into (insert position title) …
- Firm Owner (FO) - Thank you for coming to us with this. We really appreciate the initiative, and like the fact that you are interested in moving up and developing your career further here. As you know, success in the (insert position) requires mastery of (list items you each discussed on the Expectations Document). Based upon the last two quarters’ reviews, you have met the goals for promotion in (list the areas from Expectations Document), which is a great start. However, there are (list # of items that have not been mastered). Based on the Expectations Document, and notes from your supervisor, it looks like you discussed your game plan for full achievement of these items this last year, which are the prerequisites for promotion. What progress have you made on your development plan?
To recognize a team member for a promotion is a big deal and reaffirms to the team member that their hard work is not going unnoticed, thus strengthening their loyalty to your firm. Treat it as the momentous occasion that it is, no matter how small it might seem to you. And it also shows your other