Boost Productivity by Promoting the Right Employees

Helping your most able employees take the next step up the ladder benefits everyone.

Especially given the labor shortage in construction, if you have good workers, you want to make sure they stay. Mentoring programs can help you attract and retain talent, but at some point, to keep your best employees satisfied and working hard for you, you’ll need to give them a pathway for advancement within the company.

Grooming talented employees for promotion can also help ensure your company is ready to grow and meet future challenges.

Employers can expect to see increased employee productivity and enthusiasm if the processes for determining who is eligible for a promotion are transparent and fair. That means "yes" to merit-based advancement and "no" to nepotism, at least when the relatives of company owners or upper management have not proven themselves as their peers have.

But how else should managers go about evaluating employees to see who’s ripe for advancement?

Know what the job requires. For each leadership position, whether it’s foreman, supervisor or project manager, document all aspects of the job, and also write down the key job requirements. Use them as guidelines to help you determine which employees will be best suited when the time comes to fill the position.

Don't always reward the loudest voice in the room. Sometimes the hardworking people who aren’t noticeably jockeying for promotion deserve it the most. Enthusiasm is a good quality in a future leader, but potential supervisors and managers should bring more to the table than that. Choosing to promote the best qualified candidate will also boost morale among others who hope to move up in the company one day.

Consult trusted employees who aren't looking for a promotion. Not every smart, qualified worker wants a leadership position. Turn to these employees for their insights into what qualities are most important in the person who will be leading them and who might be best suited for the position from their perspective.

Have a sit-down with promotion candidates. Once future leaders are identified, management should sit down with each one and find out if he or she plans to stay with the company and wants to move up.

Give them a job assignment from the potential new role. Instead of throwing an employee into a new, higher-level position to see if the person sinks or swims, carve out an assignment from the new role to see how he or she handles it. Try the person out on different types of assignments to let strengths (and weaknesses) relevant to different roles emerge.

Give constructive feedback. No one is perfect, and even topnotch candidates will make mistakes. For employees being groomed for higher-level positions, managers should provide construction critiques that help the employee grow. Offering positive feedback as appropriate is equally important.

Provide opportunities for professional development. Employees who are aiming for leadership jobs should jump at the chance to better themselves, and employers should provide those opportunities. Seminars or other training vehicles that build leadership, technical and management skills make for a better future manager.

Successful companies must always look ahead and figure out how they will survive long-term. A consistent, fair system of promotion is one way to keep employees productive and reward the best and brightest among them to the benefit of all.