HR Ireland: Promoting Staff

Promotion of staff is an interesting and challenging issue for most managers. Sometimes, for some unusual reasons, the person who is good a doing the job (be they a chef or waiter or rooms assistant) may not necessarily be the right person to be in a supervisory or management position.

I like playing on words so I looked at the word promotion – it has a good resonance and is positive in its meaning and intention:

Predetermine (common mistake: make a snap decision by appointing a preferred person)

Review the requirements of the role; they may be different going forward

Organise the role for success; give support and encouragement

Manage the expectations; ensure the person knows there is a 90 day trial period

Organise clear goals and deliverables

Train person in new skills and management techniques

Inform the person regularly of their progress

Orchestrate structured tests and scenarios to help with ongoing success

Not successful? Try and facilitate the person’s reassignment to a suitable role without loss of face

Apologies to any acronym purists but I think this helps to illustrate the complexity of promotions. You also need to factor in the significance and positive energy if the right decision is made, or conversely the negative energy and staff turnover if the wrong person is chosen.

To draw an inference from the sporting world, the best player does not necessarily make the best manager. Managers need to be up to speed in the latest trends and also need to have an outgoing personality.

I have worked with a number of major US multinationals and several indigenous companies and in some cases I have seen the person promoted take on different personae and model themselves on some notional super manager – if this type of scenario happens, the person appointed needs to be properly trained in the job.

Preparing for promotion, like most things, is 90% of the task. If an opening arises, particularly after an incumbent has been in the role for a long time, this gives the chance to change the role to better suit the new appointee.

The job description should be rewritten and agreed so that clear expectations are met. From a HR point of view, if the person is an existing employee I recommend that they are given the role on a 90 day trial period. Within that time, either party may determine that the person may revert to their original position.

From a HR perspective, a newly promoted or appointed person needs to be very aware of their goals in the first 90 days of their role. Research shows that a lot of people fail, and remember there are challenges for new people in any organisation.

We can get help in such hiring processes; these need to be considered for more senior or critical hires. The use of psychometric tests and assessment centre approaches can help take some of the subjectivity out of the process. You can get advice on this from HR consultancy companies.

In summary, hire the best person for the job, bearing in mind that clear objectives help the person make the transition, be they internal or external to the organisation. Remember that this person will be a key player in your business, so it is important to take the time to interview a number of suitably qualified candidates.

In terms of salary you should assume that the new person will be successful and should get a reasonable starter rate. Sometimes if it is a new appointee it should be no more than 15% less than the starter range for an experienced person, and there should be an incremental system to get them on to the 100% starter rate of the experienced person within 12 to 18 months.

This also rewards the newly appointed person, thus motivating them and consolidating their commitment to the role and the company. Below is an example for illustrative purposes – ranges normally go from 85% for starter without previous experience, to 110% for the person walking in competent to do the job, with an incremental scale up to about 140% where someone is at that top of their scale and may only get CPI (Consumer Price Index) increases in line with inflation.

As we emerge from recession these are the ways that remuneration will be dealt with, so even if you don’t have scales or advocate scales these are often reflective of what happens.


Possible managerial range for illustrative purposes
% 85 95 100 110 120 140
Rate €25,500.00 €28,500.00 €30,000.00 €33,000.00 €36,000.00 €42,000.00
Market rate Max 10 yrs +


You may opt for a bonus or service driven approach, but you should get advice on the best way for your business. Individual bonuses can cause discontent and group bonuses can cause people to be frustrated that poor performers get equal pay, particularly if it’s a universal trigger such as service charge or sales tec.

Caesar Augustus had a motto ‘Festine Lente’ – hasten slowly. Good advice in promoting people and also in giving the person a chance to get to grips with their promotion and helping them grow. Not sure how good Caesar would have been in the hospitality industry but good advice nonetheless!



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