Internal promotion is something Michael Page is very familiar with. We’ve grown our business organically since 1976, with 88% of our leaders having progressed their careers within the company. In this article, we’ve put together our top tips on how to promote from within.

Why promote from within? 

When you promote existing employees, you’ll be familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. Having developed good working relationships with those employees is an advantage, as well as the fact that they already know the business and are familiar with its vision, processes and people. Plus, by giving opportunities to internal candidates, it inspires other people within the business by showing them that career growth is possible in your company. It’s still a good idea to conduct an interview with each candidate, as someone you might have previously discounted could end up surprising you.

Only promote from within if you’re going to provide them with structured support once they’re in the role. If you don’t already have  a mentor scheme, think about implementing one to give your new manager some guidance for their first few weeks. Helping them get to grips with the new role at that crucial time can do wonders for their long-term confidence.

Bear in mind that not all employees who excel at their job are suitable for a promotion into a managerial role. Consider external applicants too, in case there is a more appropriate candidate out there who can support your team and add value to your business.

The statistics around employee ambitions

In order for employees to stay motivated at work, they need to be challenged and see the potential for career progression. In our recent survey, we found that 30% of people consider a clear path to progression as being important.

Similarly, a quarter of people looking for a new role say they want different opportunities. So it’s crucial to give your staff the chance to prove themselves, monitoring people’s progress to see who is already going above and beyond in their work.

Skills and qualities to identify in your employees

You may have noticed that some of your team members have leadership qualities and could do well in a more senior role. Perhaps you’re a little unsure what to look for before recommending someone for a more senior position. If you’re looking to make an internal promotion, there are certain attributes you can look for in your next manager.

This is an essential quality for anyone in a managerial position. Look at the way people interact with others in their team, how proactive they are in their roles and who has marked themselves out as known experts in specific areas of the business. Good levels of confidence are essential. Perhaps a standout team member is already self-assured in everything they do and positive about the outcomes they are driving.

However, you can always provide extra support to people if you notice there are particular areas that they could be more confident in. If this is the only thing standing in the way of them being a great future leader, you can absolutely help them with that if they have all the other required skills to take that next step forward.

The nature of senior positions means that they must be able to clearly communicate objectives to their team, as well as acting as a trusted source of support. It might be apparent that some people are highly sociable in the office and talk to lots of different people, or are always vocal in meetings. They might take the lead on sending out emails and present their written communications well. You’ll know from your own interactions with people how well they communicate their ideas. This could include putting together effective presentations or making a positive impression with customers.

Our survey found that 22% of people looking for a new role want to leave as their working conditions have deteriorated. We also discovered that 18% state working too many hours as a reason for wanting to leave their roles. With better communication between employees and managers about workloads and any other issues affecting working life, employee retention can be significantly improved. So this is a vital skill for managers to hone.

Problem-solving abilities:

Managers must be able to look at issues objectively and decide on the best approach to resolving them. This requires critical thinking skills, which helps people to apply thorough analysis to any issue. In addition to this, team members who encounter problems should be able to approach their line manager for guidance.

Look for people who can confidently take on problems and come up with creative solutions. When it comes to leadership, giving other people the tools to solve problems is even better than simply being good at solving them alone.

Even with team members supporting them, it’s essential that anyone in a managerial position can keep projects on track and meet deadlines. Those who show strong organisation skills are clearly indicating that they will be able to cope with taking on more responsibilities.

The proof may lie in them not only getting their assigned work done, but going the extra mile to set their own goals and succeeding at meeting those too. Good time management and prioritisation skills are important for organising workloads, as well as checking in with other team members on the progress of their own contributions to projects.

Team members who thrive on working as part of a team will have the potential to succeed in management roles. Being able to delegate may be part of leadership, but great managers can inspire collaboration and facilitate teamwork in order to drive success together.

People who are good listeners function the most effectively in teams. They have to be willing to hear other people’s ideas and take on other points of view. It’s also crucial that people show honesty and empathy, to be able to work well with colleagues and earn their respect and trust.

Decision-making abilities:

If a manager can’t make the final call, then who will? Look for elements of strong decision-making skills in future leaders. This starts with being able to identify challenges, before coming up with a range of possible solutions. They should be able to assess the pros and cons of different options, before settling on one and communicating that to people.

Decision-making is important as managers may be responsible for recruiting the right people, managing budgets, expanding the business, growing the brand or launching new products and services.

If you already have someone in mind for a promotion, it’s important that you weigh up these skills before giving them a more senior role. A good test of someone’s managerial aptitude is trialling them with some of your responsibilities, to see how they cope. You can get feedback from them and the rest of the team afterwards, to see how they managed the challenge.

What’s next?

For more advice on how to promote from within and other areas of people management, take a look at the full range articles in our employer centre. You can also download our talent retention eBook for more tips on nurturing employee satisfaction.


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