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Does Your Employee Really Want That Job Promotion?

Written by Don Tinney on November 21, 2016

People Employees

hawk soaring with mountains in the background“I really want the promotion. I’d love to take on that manager position,” Fred says enthusiastically. Fred has been on your team for several years now and he knows your business well. He’s proven himself to be reliable and professional.

But why does he want the position? His enthusiasm reminds you of a kid in a candy store repeating I want it, I want it! But just like that kid in the candy store, does he actually want it? Is he about to bite off more than he can chew?

Why Does Fred Really Want That Promotion?

In EOS® terms as quoted in the book Traction, to want it means the person genuinely likes doing what the position requires. “They understand the role, and they want to do it based on fair compensation and the responsibility.”

In Fred’s case, he could want the position for reasons that could make him ineffective:

  • Money drivenseeking the pay increase
  • Control drivenwanting to have control over others
  • Ego drivenwanting the recognition or status of the job title
  • Entitlement drivenbelieving he deserves it
  • Socially drivenwanting to work with friends
  • Ignorancenot understanding the entire scope of the seat

Filling a seat simply because someone says they want it can be dangerous for many reasons. Look and listen beyond those initial expressions of interest for indicators of the true want.

Should You Promote Your Employee?

From his words and past performance, have you observed that Fred:

  • Clearly understands the full 360° scope of the seat, along with the responsibility it brings, and wants to be accountable for delivering what the seat requires?
  • Has demonstrated a pattern of delivering under pressure—wanting, rather than avoiding, challenges?
  • Consistently exhibits wantleaning forward, arms uncrossed, attentive and engaged in discussions about the work he will be doing? Does he want team wins and the greater good more than personal status and career advancement, using “we”, “us” and “our” as much or more than “I”, “me” and “my”?
  • Is more driven by the value he can bring to the seat than the compensation he would get from the pay increase?

Money as a Motivator for Job Promotion

Fairly compensating your players for the value they deliver is very important. In a marketplace where businesses are competing to fill their teams with the best players, the risk of losing under-compensated, under-appreciated players is high. That said, if you have to use money to motivate a person to take a position, you have the wrong person.

Rule: Never use money to lure someone into a seat they don’t really want.

Action Steps

Be slow to hire. Be as sure as you can be that a candidate wants the offered position for the right reasons.

In your next quarterly, one-on-one conversation with each of your direct reports:

  • Consider and talk through the validating signs for wanting the seat to make sure those signs are present.
  • Ask, "Do you still want to be accountable for delivering everything your seat requires?"
  • If necessary, move direct reports from a seat they don’t want to a seat they get, want and have the capacity to sit inor gracefully remove them from your team.

Next Steps

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More Blog Posts: ← What Happens When Your Company Leadership Doesn't Row Together | A Simple Habit for Greater Employee Accountability at Your Company