One-Size-Fits-All Promotions a Thing of the Past

Posted By Terri Williams on January 11, 2017 at 2:42 pm
One-Size-Fits-All Promotions a Thing of the Past

What should be the most important criterion when determining how workers receive promotions and raises? The answer may vary by workforce generation. Millennials have already expressed less desire in obtaining a management position than previous generations. Also, millennials appear to be less happy at work than other age groups.

Now, according to a new survey by Clutch, the workforce generations don’t agree on how employees should be evaluated for promotions and other career advancement opportunities.

When asked what they thought should be the highest-ranked factor when being considered for a raise, the responses were as follows:

18-34 years old 35-54 years old 55-64 years old 65+ years old
Behaviors/attitude 45% 35% 45% 33%
Measurable outputs 30% 43% 33% 38%
Certifications/education 15% 11% 12% 10%
Tenure/seniority 10% 12% 11% 19%

What accounts for the differences on promotions and raises?

Measurable output has traditionally been the standard for evaluating workers, and both Gen Xers and those closest to retirement still consider this the hallmark of evaluations. Also, it should be expected that employees would favor the factor that is most advantageous to them. For example, a higher percentage of those 65 and over thought tenure and seniority should be important. On the other hand, millennials and Gen Zers, many of whom may be currently attending or have recently finished school, tend to place more emphasis on certifications and education than any other group.

Laura Poisson, president of ClearRock, Inc., a Boston-based career transition, outplacement, leadership development, and executive coaching firm, believes that behaviors and attitudes are the preferred measurement by some generations for one simple reason: a shift in values. “Over the last 10 years, there’s been a great number of global studies conducted and widely accepted conclusions regarding the importance of interpersonal skills to the success of an individual, its leaders, and ultimately the business.”

While performance is important, the many company scandals in the news, as well as the unscrupulous activities that don’t garner headlines, help to shape the view that employees should be rewarded for good behavior and punished for misbehavior. “Fewer companies are willing to ‘look the other way’ when either an employee or a leader is behaving badly in spite of business results because it’s too risky and will diminish the output of employees and business results,” Poisson explains.

While baby boomers and millennials want to improve the workplace, those headed to retirement see the workplace differently as a result of their experiences. Andre Lavoie, CEO and co-founder of ClearCompany, a talent management company that helps clients identify, hire, and retain more A Players, tells GoodCall, “Those who are 65 and older come from a goal-oriented culture of workers, where all that mattered was hitting your sales numbers every quarter.”

Are those beliefs out of step with today’s workforce?

Amelia Peacock, content developer and marketer at Clutch, tells GoodCall, “I think the modern employee is looking for a lot more than a cubicle in a massive corporate office where 10 people know their name and all that matters at the end of the year is how much revenue they’ve generated.”

She believes these workers want to be valued as people as much as they want to be valued as employees. “In a way, asking to be assessed based on behaviors and attitudes over other factors is also asking managers to be more attentive of, and afford more validation to, those workers who are actually trying,” Peacock says.

Since Gen Xers are in-between millennials and baby boomers, why do they relate more closely to those about to retire, instead of to the generations they’re sandwiched in between? “Gen-Xers were raised by veterans and global turmoil, and they were promised a future of stability, compared to millennials, whose parents achieve that stability through working for big corporations, and were promised a future of fulfillment,” Peacock explains.

And she believes that’s why Gen-Xers prefer the type of objective, stable career path in which hard work leads to promotion.

What should be the main factor for promotions?

There’s not a right or wrong answer, and Lavoie recommends that companies factor in both performance and the behavioral component.

But realistically speaking, the best attitude in the world doesn’t count for much without competence. “Companies should conduct 360 reviews on a regular basis, where they track performance and share goal-related updates with employees to keep them focused on hitting their objectives,” Lavoie says.

By conducting the reviews on a regular basis, he believes that employees of all ages will be able to make any necessary adjustments to advance their career.

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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