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Staff Promotion & Transfer

Instructor: Dr. Douglas Hawks

Douglas has two master's degrees (MPA & MBA) and a PhD in Higher Education Administration.

Recruiting employees from within an organization can improve employee motivation and morale and be cheaper than recruiting externally. Staff promotions and transfers are two methods of internal recruiting we will discuss in this lesson.

What Is a Staff Promotion?

The reporting hierarchy of most organizations can be viewed as a pyramid with an executive leader or president at the top along with a handful of staff, usually vice presidents. Those vice presidents, in turn, have staff with specific responsibilities and departmental oversight. Depending on the size of the organization, this general structure can exist for many layers.

As supervisors and managers leave their positions, the organization is faced with the decision of how to replace that individual. One common practice is a staff promotion, which occurs when an employee that already works in the organization is recruited into a position 'up the ladder' from his or her existing job. A promotion like this generally includes new responsibilities, new expectations, and often an increase in authority and compensation.

Promotion Methods

Promotions may be given based on seniority or ability. Each strategy is different, and each has different benefits and costs.

Promotion Based on Seniority

When a promotion is granted on seniority, it means it is given to the longest-serving employee out of the eligible pool. For example, in a human resources office, there may be a staff of HR generalists. The title of senior generalist may include more complex and involved work, and a successful senior generalist could best be identified by how long the person has been with the organization and has seen different scenarios. So, of all the eligible employees that are interested in the promotion, whoever has worked at the company the longest would get the promotion.

Promotion Based on Ability

Promotions may also be given based on ability, or the knowledge and skills necessary to perform job functions in a quality and efficient manner. In this case, seniority may not be an important consideration. For example, if the open position is for a machine tech that works with newer models of equipment, an employee who has more recently finished school and completed training may have the skills and knowledge already in place; the most senior existing machine tech may be more comfortable working on older machines. If the newer employee received the promotion, it would be based on ability.

Choosing a Promotion Method

One type of promotion is not inherently better than another type; it just depends on the situation and the needs of the organization. Each can motivate employees, either to learn new skills or to stay with the company and earn seniority. However, both can also cause problems, either because a more senior staff member may feel like a newer employee was unfairly promoted above them, or in the case of a seniority promotion, a hard-working newer employee may not feel motivated to excel at their work because they see rewards, such as promotions, being based solely on longevity with the organization.

What Is a Staff Transfer?

In addition to staff promotions, internal recruiting can also include staff transfers. Staff transfers take place when an employee that works for the company accepts a job elsewhere in the same company, either at a different location or performing a different kind of work. Depending on the type of organization, a transfer could have many different looks.

Types of Transfers

At a company that has several physical, geographic locations, a transfer may be geographic. For example, a large retail store may identify a store manager that is particularly effective at increasing sales. If there is a larger store that is lagging in sales, that manager may be asked to transfer to the larger store, specifically with the intention of utilizing his or her skills to help that store increase its sales.

A transfer may also be a complete change in responsibilities. Perhaps a large business-to-business wholesaler of office supplies has a warehouse manager who is very knowledgeable about the company's products. Sometimes, employees start feeling burnt out with their current jobs and need a change to stay motivated. In a case like this, that warehouse manager may want to make a move over to the sales team. With her knowledge of the company's products and perhaps some familiarity with large customers, she might be an outstanding sales person.

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