How Favoritism Impacts Promotions

Meeting Overhead

Proteges and LeaderFavoritism plays a key role in deciding who gets promoted, though most executives say it’s the other guy who does it. In other words, although most companies have policies designed to focus decisions on measurable criteria, they’re not particularly effective. Indeed, many executives say they already know who they want to promote or hire before they begin a search.

Still, those favored have to demonstrate a fair degree of solid performance and potential, especially in terms of communications.

“This study confirms what many have suspected – that favoritism plays a much greater role in employee advancement than companies normally portray,” said Jonathan Gardner an executive at research firm Penn Schoen Berland. He conducted the study while attending a leadership program at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

Gardner’s research shows how common it is for managers to know in advance who they want to promote. Twenty nine percent said their most recent promotion considered only a single candidate. If more than one candidate was being considered, 56 percent already knew who they wanted. Of that group, nearly all — 96 percent — promoted the preferred individual.

On the other hand, performance plays a strong part in promotion decisions, favoritism or not. Among the factors weighed in promotion decisions are “has excelled in current position,” “leadership potential,” “job-related skills,” “strong interpersonal skills,” and “history of strong performance reviews.”

You can see a summary of the survey here. (PDF)

Source: McDonough School of Business

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

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