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Human Resources Management - Career Development

Promotions, Demotions and Transfers - Career Development

   Posted On :  13.06.2018 09:40 pm

Promotion is the movement of an employee from current job to another that is higher in pay, perquisites, prestige, privileges, authority and power, wider in jurisdiction and responsibility with a likelihood of increase in the level a person is occupying presently in the organizational hierarchy.

Promotions, Demotions and Transfers

Promotion is the movement of an employee from current job to another that is higher in pay, perquisites, prestige, privileges, authority and power, wider in jurisdiction and responsibility with a likelihood of increase in the level a person is occupying presently in the organizational hierarchy. A mere shifting of an employee to a different job which has better working hours, better office space or more pleasant location would not be called promotion. A promotion process begins with the screening of a number of possible candidates for promotion and culminates in the official notification of the elevation of an employee to a higher rank within the establishment. Promotions could be used as a motivational tool as it brings enhanced working conditions for the promoted persons. Promotions that merely increase job complexity without any real improvement in jurisdiction could be called as Pseudo-promotions and are resented by employees. Decisions to promote might be based on 360 degree appraisals of performance and potentials. Job Knowledge tests could also be applied for promotions.
 
Promotion may be based on seniority or merit. Using merit as the sole basis for promotion is subject to criticism because determining merit criteria often lacks reliability and objectivity. Most organizations try to combine seniority and merit in a formula called seniority-cum-merit. Under this formula, a certain number of years of service is taken as the cut-off level initially. Then, if there are more persons than required for promotion in that level, merit is given consideration. Some organizations are engaged in promotion forecasts that allow them to identify people with high advancement potential. The high-potential employees are then given special kinds of developmental experiences.
 
While filling vacancies in managerial positions, promotion from within an organization is to be preferred to recruitment from outside because merit-based promotion is generally viewed as a reward for excellent services rendered by an employee. If seniority were not the sole criterion for promotions, employees at all levels would be encouraged to show initiative and assume greater responsibility in their work. At the same time, it could be imprudent to pick up the top performer in any area for a bigger job where the demands are quite different. Promotions should not be decided upon parameters like college degree, intelligence and popularity of a person. Not all people would desire to get added burdens and shoulder additional responsibilities. Hence a person’s willingness is to be considered thoroughly before taking any decisions on promotion.

Performance factors like ability to develop good subordinates, operating with minimum direction and having a record of accomplishments are found to be extremely helpful characteristics for a person to be eligible for promotion. Personality characteristics like openness to accept criticism, ability to communicate effectively and respect for fellow human beings tend to make the person survive after the promotion. However the socio-environmental factors surrounding employees like their personal life, family unity, superior’s reputation and promotional prospects and connections with power centres, are also given importance in practice, even though they are not concerned with the individual’s effort.

People desirous of promotion might be adopting many of the tactics to acquire greater power. Exuding confidence, progressing one step at a time, making one’s activities central and non-substitutable to the organization, developing expertise, committing the rare and uncommitted feats, engaging in rational persuasion of others, upward appeals quoting consent of higher ups, pressure tactics like using demands and threats, image building through attention-seeking activities, regulating information flow upward and downward, networking with people and other such types of behavior that are political in nature.
 
If a person is denied promotion or overlooked upon at discussions for promotions, he or she might feel severely frustrated. The frustration would be particularly high if the candidate has nurtured deep desire for the promotion and had been sure of reaching it. Frustration would be heightened if the person had taken a lot of efforts to be eligible for promotion and if the next chance for promotion is remote. Being scheduled for promotion and getting dropped from the list would lead most people to feel the urge to quit their jobs.
 
For example, when the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a large renowned multinational corporation reached his retirement stage, the organization had arrived at three names in its shortlist of candidates one of whom would be chosen to succeed the present CEO. Since the three names were already discussed openly in the media, they were well known to the public. Before choosing one from the three, the selectors raised the issue of how they would react if they were not selected as the CEO. All of them replied that it would be a loss of face to them in that case and hence they would resign and quit the organization. Taking cues from this feedback, the organization realized that they would have to find three successors to the positions occupied the candidates for CEO and that an increasing number of successors would have to be found to fit the lower levels.

Awarding promotions are the most significant forms of recognizing superior performance. Therefore, it is extremely important that promotions be fair and based on merit and untainted by favouritism. Though many people accept the obligation to avoid racial, sexual, age and religious discrimination in recruitment, very little attention is paid to discrimination against the disadvantaged groups during promotion.

Affirmative action is to be taken to specially train the traditionally marginalized groups to face the challenges of a competitive and potentially hostile environment. When promotion occurs in the same category like clerical, manual or managerial groups, within one grade to another, it is called as lateral promotions. When employees are shifted from a lower category to a higher category, such promotions are called vertical promotion. During times of monetary crisis, the management can grant promotions without any rise in pay, benefits and allowances. Such promotions are known as dry promotions and the promoted employees would not be paid the increased wages when they are promoted.
 
The merits of promotion are encouragement of efficiency, retention of competent people with an ambition for vertical growth upwards and increase in productivity. The disadvantages of promotion from internal sources could be discontentment among other contenders for the same position and scope for lobbying, bickering, frustration, unhealthy competition and alienation from erstwhile peers and the possibility of favoritism. Neglect of length of service and loyalty could be the result of promotions not based upon seniority and they could attract resistance from employee associations and trade unions. Promotion policy should make it clear whether to promote employees against existing vacancies alone or it is permissible to promote a person even if there is no real vacancy just for the sake of rewarding a person’s performance.
 
a. Demotion is the diametric opposite process of promotion. It is a course of action by which an employee is assigned a downward assignment in the organizational hierarchy to a different job with lesser pay, inferior designation, lower category, reduced status and responsibility. An organization uses demotion less frequently than the other aspects of mobility, primarily because of its serious negative implications on the employee’s career and morale. An employee is likely to accept a demotion rather than lose the job altogether if the employment opportunities in the job market outside are less.
 
Every manager is said to rise to his or her level of incompetence. In that case, demotion would be one of the consequences arising out of an employee’s inability to match the requirements of the present job, or when a promotion has been made provisionally. Demotion may also occur as a disciplinary measure owing to the acts of commission of malpractice by the employees. In the context when employee turnover is high and organizational structures are flattering, demotion could be losing its significance and impact. Demotion would be less frustrating to an employee if the placement in a particular position had been notified as temporary and revocable.
 
b. Transfer is reshuffling of human resources from one unit of work place to another. It involves lateral mobility of employees from one post to another within an organization. Through transfers, people are shifted to a job that is comparatively equivalent in pay, responsibility and organizational level. Transfers may be voluntarily sought by employees or may be used as the sole prerogative of the managements. They could be occurring on a mutual basis between two employees or as a sequence of transfers. Transfers may occur within or outside functions, departments, units or divisions.
 
Transfers serve a number of purposes. They may be carried out to enhance efficiency in the utilization of human resources through the redistribution of work force’s size and strength according to changing needs. A transfer is said to be a replacement transfer if it is caused due to the displacement of an existing incumbent in a job. It is called remedial transfer if it is initiated to correct a previous incorrect placement. Transfers might also be ordered to satisfy the requirements of employee to work under a better superior or to move into a job with brighter career prospects or be in a more convenient location.
 
Transfers are also at times used to keep promotion ladders open to keep individuals not having growth opportunities in their own department, continued to be interested in their work. Some times, transfers are also effected to stall layoff. Since transfers expose employees to others’ jobs, work can continue even during periods of emergency such as accidents or strike, when some employees are unavailable to work. An employee may be transferred because management feels that crucial forms of competence could be put to use in another deserving place. Thus it becomes an employee assistance measure. Transfer may be a developmental device to provide more exposure to the employees and make them more versatile. Transfers may at times be necessary to diminish conflicts between colleagues. Transfers may be used as a disciplinary measure to punish employees indulging in any acts of misconduct. In this case, they are called penal transfers.

Transfers help reducing monotony and boredom felt by employees and thereby enhance their satisfaction on job and the morale of their groups. They can also prepare an employee for challenging assignments in the future. The intervening authorities from above could shift over-dominating employees. Better employer-employee relations and stabilization of changing work requirements in different departments or locations are the other beneficial outcomes of transfers. On the negative side, transfers might be viewed as an inconvenience to those who are reluctant to move. Managers might feel that they are unfairly made to move away from their pet projects and supportive superiors. Some employees may feel it uncomfortable when they have to separate from their affiliates at work and might have to adapt to a more demanding work schedule. Shifting of experienced hands and minds may affect productivity in the department from which a person is transferred. Dual career couples might have objections when only one of them is transferred. Arbitrary and discriminatory transfers can affect the employees’ morale.
 
In order to make transfers more pleasant and less troublesome, employees must be explained the circumstances under which the transfer was initiated and the reason for choosing this particular employee for the transfer. It is also important on the part of the organization to provide appropriate support in the form of facilities like orientation regarding the new place, days of leave, adequate manpower, allowances and material assistance to the transferee for packaging luggage, transportation, re-registrations and shifting of families and taking care of avoiding disruptions in the lives and careers of employees’ spouses. Transfers should be spaced out by years of gap and should have employee development-orientation.

Transfer opportunities could also be used adeptly to get vital clues into organizational problems. This could be illustrated with the help of a case described by Akio Morita of Sony Corporation in Japan when he introduced a scheme by which employees could apply for transfers outside their departments, when there is an internal job posting. The scheme proved to bring in multiple benefits. People who wanted to move out of Sony could be retained within the company by this scheme. The scheme had yet another benefit of identifying the departments from which request for transfer appears in large numbers. Large numbers of these applicants were actually sending signals of some underlying anomaly like an autocratic or nagging boss. The top management could sense this problem and sort it out with the heads of these departments and avert large-scale turnover of skilled human power. The organization also got valuable insights into the needs and aspirations of its employees, and thereafter began its plan for further human resource planning.

Vacancies arise due to a variety of reasons like growth, diversification, turnover of employees and organizational restructuring. While training interspersed with transfers and promotions could occur as intermittent or discontinuous events that serve to provide a plethora of opportunities to experiment, learn and perform in new ways, they are still not likely to be adequate to maximize employee development. In this regard, there should also be ongoing efforts from the organizations to enable an employee to become involved actively, contribute his mettle and help taking the whole firm or even an entire industry to new heights. These continuous efforts may take forms called as Empowerment and Delegation.
Tags : Human Resources Management - Career Development
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