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Promotions Decision Making Fairness

I plan to promote one of my employees to a new position in my department. I have one individual who has been here for four years, and she expects the promotion. I have another employee who has been here for one year but is more qualified and does better work. The longer-term employee will be very upset if she does not get the promotion, and she can create many problems throughout the department. Who do you suggest I promote?

A. If you promote the longer term individual, take a look at what else you are promoting. First, you will be promoting a value system that places primary emphasis on loyalty and dedication, rather than productivity and performance.

Secondly, there is a less obvious factor that you will be promoting if you go with the longer-term employee. You are concerned that she will be upset and disruptive if she is not promoted. If this is part of your rationale for promoting her, you are essentially rewarding this threat. If you do so, you can expect other employees to use her strategy when they seek promotions.

It can be helpful to take a look at your focal point as a manager. Managers who focus on the past are more likely to rely on how long an employee has been with the company. At the same time, managers who focus on the future are likely to rely on how effective an employee has been with the company.

This raises one overarching question: how important is it for you to promote excellence? Most successful managers today have an excellent answer.

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