Motivation without Promotion

This HBR article discusses the situation in which we can’t always promote someone just because they ask—even if they’re a top performer. So, they suggest ways that we can engage and retain talent when we’re unable to offer them immediate career advancement.

  1. First, let them know that there’s nothing wrong with asking for a promotion.
  2. Then offer our sincere feedback. What skills or experience do they need to acquire to be qualified for a promotion? How can they address and remedy these gaps?
  3. Share our thoughts candidly and make some suggestions. Next, ask them what’s behind their desire for advancement: Are they hungry for more status and responsibility, an opportunity to manage people, or just a bigger paycheck?
  4. By better understanding what’s driving their ambition, we can come up with a tailored solution that can help relieve some of their anxieties in the short term (for example, new stretch assignments, the chance to manage an intern, or a raise).
  5. This approach will position us as an active partner to our employee, rather than a gatekeeper to their success.

What have you found successful in retaining aspiring employees when promotion is not an immediate possibility?

February 15, 2023