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Promotions Self-Insight Pestering

One of the people who report to me constantly asks me when he is going to get promoted. I don't know when or if he is going to get a promotion, and I have told him to stop asking, but he still persists. How do I get him to stop?

Your employee is operating under the erroneous assumption that the more you hear his promotional message, the more likely you are to buy it. This constant barrage may sell hamburgers, but it does not sell employees.

In fact, the irony is that his non-stop questions are an indicator that he is probably not ready for promotion. They tell you that he does not have much insight into the impact he has on others, and they raise questions about his communication skills and ability to listen.

While he earns high scores on the persistence scale, it is important to remember that a strength, when pushed to an extreme, can become a weakness. In his case, persistence has transformed into annoyance.

Although employees are well-advised to let management know they are interested in being promoted, they do not need to do so several times a day. Rather, they should clearly express their interest, particularly during feedback sessions, and then let their performance demonstrate that they are ready.

The next time your employee approaches you with his favorite question, you should simply tell him the truth. You are uncertain as to when a position will open up, you appreciate his interest in being promoted, and you have taken note of it. At the same time, tell him that he is undermining his chances for promotion by his incessant questions.

On a broader basis, it may be helpful for you to consider working with him and with your other employees to create some specific performance development plans that will help them in their current positions and increase their likelihood for personal and career growth in the future.

If he still persists with his questions about being promoted, then it is important to recognize that you are dealing less with the issue of promotion, and more with the issue of an employee who is asking the same question over and over again. And, this is less of a coaching issue and more of a disciplinary issue.

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