Many companies adopt a 'promote from within' approach, striving to offer progression opportunities to internal candidates before looking externally to source talent. This can bring about a number of benefits, including improved engagement and longevity of employees, and reduced recruitment costs.
However, it also risks upsetting some employees if they are overlooked - it may be once, it may be repeatedly - for opportunities that their workplace peers manage to secure. If left unchecked, these bad feelings can grow and become a serious issue within the team, leading to entrenched resentment and jealously.
As the manager, it is your job to ensure that any promotions within a team - especially if an employee is being promoted to a position where they manage people who were previously their peers - are handled with sensitivity, respect and transparency.
Here's our advice to ensure your team doesn't fall apart if you promote from within:

Start planning for any fallout before you make a final decision

When evaluating candidates, you should also take into consideration how they will make the transition from team member to manager. Does your preferred candidate have close friends within the team? How will those relationships be affected by a promotion? Do they naturally take the lead on team projects already, and so the team already defers to them?
Take some time to think about how you will make the announcement. It's good idea to brief the successful candidate on how you envision them making the transition to manager, and to offer your support. They are likely to find the shift challenging and will need you in their corner to provide advice, guidance and support.

Be as transparent as possible, and communicate with all involved

Once you've made your decision and the successful candidate has accepted, be sure to speak one-on-one with the candidates who weren't successful. Be prepared to be honest with them about why they weren't selected, and recognize their ambition to move up the ladder. Give it a day or so to all sink in before making a wider announcement - this means that the unsuccessful candidates will have time to process the news before everyone starts congratulating the person who got promoted.

Check-in regularly with your newly promoted employee, and keep an eye on your team

Especially if the newly-promoted employee is taking their first step into management. Ensure you have regular catch-ups to see how they're finding the transition and uncover any challenges they're facing and share this article on tips for moving into management.
Also keep an eye out for any simmering resentment or unhappiness amongst the employee/s who weren't promoted. If their engagement or enthusiasm takes a dive, have an honest chat with them about the shift in their attitude and performance. It's understandable they may feel a bit deflated, but if their disappointment has eroded their enthusiasm for the job you need to address this early on.
Be sure to check out our advice for using behavioural-based interviewing to help you select the best talent and ensure you make the right decision.

Summary

When promoting from within your own team, you need to take steps to ensure that employees who miss out don't feel overlooked or resentful:

  • Plan in advance. Consider how your preferred candidate will transition to manager and how you'll announce your choice. 
  • Be transparent with those involved. Explain to any unsuccessful candidates why they missed out and what they can do to improve their chances next time.
  • Check-in regularly and be on the lookout for any resentment or unhappiness.
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