What? Fast track a new grad to the C-suite in 5 years? Are you crazy?”
Promoting a new grad to the C-suite in 5 years likely is crazy. I get it. But asking a new grad to wait 5-7 years for a promotion is just as crazy.
Promotions bring internal and external affirmation that we are doing good work and that the company values us. Even for the more shy and reserved employees, activities like calling our family to share the news and posting our new job title on LinkedIn are just plain FUN.
When was the last time you had a promotion? What kind of boost did that give you? Did you give yourself a chance to bask in it, at least a little? (I hope so!)
Our historic model of giving promotions was that they were sparse. An employee received a handful of promotions during their career and often even one-step promotions came with notable increases in responsibility and compensation. This was the model everyone has known. If you wanted to climb the career ladder, you may have to get the promotions by taking a new job with a new employer because there weren’t many opportunities for promotion in your company. So, some employees left in order to get the promotion elsewhere, but the risk of loosing seniority, retirement benefits and more were powerful to keep people where they were.
That was then. Today, it’s a different game.
Employees today see many more opportunities thanks to the Internet. Companies don’t provide as much financial incentive like pensions to keep employees tied to them. Younger employees especially do not give loyalty a lot of value. After all, where did loyalty get their family members and parents of friends recently? Many Millennials had close ties with people who lost jobs, homes, retirements and more during the turbulence of the past 15 years. Understandably, Millennials are not interested in loyalty for the sake of loyalty. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, younger employees (20-34 years old) have average tenure of 2.3 years, which is half of the average tenure of the total workforce (4.6 years).
Millennials are especially sensitive to needing demonstrations from their company that they are valued. Promotions can help demonstrate this. You can achieve delivering more promotions by looking at the natural growth of employees and assigning titles, performance requirements, and promotion opportunities that support more frequent promotion.
Here is an example. Let’s say that you run an accounting firm and you hire a couple of new grads every summer. The current standard progression is Staff Accountant for 5-7 years, Senior Accountant (managing projects) for 3-5 years, Manager, Director and perhaps Partner. Thinking about this career path for a new hire, they’re looking at 5-7 years before a promotion? That likely feels like a lifetime to them. How does that influence motivation and enthusiasm?
It may be perfectly reasonable that someone needs 5-7 years to be ready to manage projects. But how could those 5-7 years be subdivided in authentic ways that reflect that natural growth of people during this time?
This won’t work necessarily for every role in your company, but start with the positions where you most frequently hire and grow employees. See how you can subdivide those roles and show the career path that you likely know in your head. And watch your new hires work with higher commitment and enthusiasm, and watch them stay and bring other great hires to your door.