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Is Promotion Always the Best Solution?

Most people would think that a promotion from area supervisor to regional director on a partnership track would be the epitome of corporate ladder climbing. I only dreamed of such an accomplishment — then learned to be careful of what I yearn for.

It all began in multi-family housing management where my talent for smooth resident relations prompted a promotion to assistant manager then property manager and finally area supervisor. I enjoyed being in management because it was like my leasing position but with less paperwork and added decision-making power.

Proving effortless advancement transitions, a promotion to regional director was next, with a partnership with the organization on the horizon — the final level before property management nirvana. But there was one hitch. One year into my new position I realized that I was not happy. Feelings of not being “me” at work, of being a professional “brownnoser,” struck hard. Burned out and worn out, I wanted out.

What happened?

Given my ambition to reach this level, why didn’t this promotion feel right for me?

Unfortunately, this happens quite often. Employers promote “star players” to a position in which they may not be intrinsically attracted, leading to burn out and loss of interest.

As a team leader, I learned that the best reward for great employee performance is not always promotion. It is unreasonable for an employer to expect an employee to change or alter his or her natural gifts and strengths — that which excited us about the employee in the first place.

John C. Maxwell wrote in his book Put your Dream to the Test that the Law of Least Effort means that our success is greatly influenced by our natural talents and strengths.

When I made a list of actions that came easily to me, I learned that my new position as a regional director could not support my natural talents and strengths. I had to work hard at every aspect of the position, which changed my personality. This was a blessing in disguise — my success would not be found in a partnership with this organization. My success was in what I loved — speaking to people about leasing, marketing and management.

Employers who find themselves in a position where they want to promote an employee should ask, “What natural talents does this person have, and how can I enhance those talents so this person can do his or her best to achieve success?” Sometimes, success is not in a position, title or prestige but in the love of the art. In my case, the art is property management and multi-family housing, and my natural talent is getting others to understand it.

To promote or not to promote, consider these tips:

  • Prior to promotion, do a compare-and-contrast analysis of the two positions and be honest with the employees involved as to how their career (and life) will change.
  • Ask the promotion-potential employees for their vision of where they belong within the organization. Have an open and honest conversation about the pros and cons of their ambitions.
  • Often, employees will accept a promotion (even when they do not feel confident about being able to do the job) because they need, want and deserve the increase in pay. Reward
  • “star players” financially
  • even if they turn down your
  • promotion.

Want to learn more lessons from the trenches? Join Caprice at the 2019 Imagine Your Workplace Conference where she will discuss the parts of our culture that we misrepresent, either accidentally or on purpose.

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Caprice Stokes
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Is Promotion Always the Best Solution?

Most people would think that a promotion from area supervisor to regional director on a partnership track would be the epitome of corporate ladder climbing.