Appraisals are a time when every employee is waiting to hear the ‘good news’. Everybody thinks that they are getting a raise or promotion. Hopes are high. On such occasions it is tough to cut these hopes and say, ‘hey buddy, you could not be promoted.” These are occasions when pride, confidence and belief of people get shaken on knowing they are not on that list and hence it is important for bosses to know how they can gently get the message across.
It is important to be direct but not make it a nightmare occasion and to inform in such a way that the person takes it in the right spirit or rather tries to. Here’s how it can be tried out:
1. Call for a pep meeting before the announcements are made:
Before the results are out, call for a general meeting with all of the employees and tell them that the office will be soon releasing news about promotions. Use the meeting to tell everyone that just because someone is getting a promotion does not mean that they can afford to be laidback and not work hard, similarly, someone not getting the promotion does not mean the person is unfit or unskilled, it is just that he might require more preparation.
2. The news of not getting promoted should reach through rumours:
People will be people. There will be over-enthusiastic members who will leak information about promotions and pay raises even before the official announcement. This is a terrible way of knowing that they are not getting a promotion. Such leaked information is unethical, unhealthy and will boost negativity, making the situation more complicated. Ensure that promotion news remain confidential.
3. Spill the beans in private:
Not getting promoted means the person is not good enough for new responsibilities and this revelation can be pretty bad. Hence call them in the cabin for a one-to-one meeting and then tell them, rather than outside surrounded by others.
4. Prepare for the meeting with the employee:
Get the detailed report from the human resources department and list out the factors well. As a result when you meet with the employee, you are well prepared and will not hunt for explanations. Ready answers will also help put the employee at ease and clear his confusion.
5. Create a friendly environment:
6. The mornings are right:
Don’t wait till the end of the day to get the message across. Mornings have a positive energy about them, so try to tell them in the morning itself. This will also give them the remaining day to assess the situation.
7. It is better if the boss handles the situation:
Though a hiring manager or a Human Resources head might have a strategy to deal with the situation, it is better if it is the boss who will inform the employee about not getting the promotion. It is the boss who has been in direct contact with the employee’s work matters and it is best if he only tells them what worked and what didn’t.
8. Be direct:
Once the person is at ease, keep the conversation direct, instead of just harping on more unnecessary musings. Let the meeting be short so that the news can be delivered directly and quick.
9. Stress on the positive qualities:
Just because the employee did not get the promotion does not mean that he or she is just dull or dumb. May be it was because the new role required more experience. Reiterate that their professional attitude is what is required. Talk about their pluses.
10. Refrain from bringing other people in the conversation:
Don’t say how somebody else who did not get the promotion handled the news well or how you want this person to also look at the current situation thus. People are different and hence dealing with them also needs different attitudes.
11. Don’t talk about the person who got the promotion:
Talking about this person means you will have to explain why he deserved the promotion and that will be a little de-motivating for those who did not get the promotion. Talk about it only if the employee wishes to know the reasons for picking the other person.
12. Allow the person to talk:
Let the employee also express his opinions, suggestions and remarks if any. Even if its criticism, allow it. This is an emotional moment for him and he might talk a little more. Listen compassionately.
13. Listen to criticism:
When a person learns that he hasn’t got the promotion that he was so sure about, he might think there is something wrong with the whole process. He might also see faults in the person who actually got the promotion. There will be blames, on the system, on the company, on the person and if you are the boss, also you. Understand that the employee is in a vulnerable state and take the remarks positively. After all, a few offer constructive criticism.
14. Be ready for all types of questions:
The employee will have many questions and he even might be expecting the answers to be in his favour. Listen to his questions attentively and answer them honestly and don’t skip any questions. If you need time to answer any of the questions posed to you, tell them so and get back to them when you have the answer.
15. Give an honest feedback:
Tell them why they weren’t chosen in a positive way. Don’t say you were not good enough but tell them that the post needed additional skills or educational qualifications and that they should take this as an opportunity to work on their skills and get themselves updated.
16. Tell them how the company is going to help them:
At the same time, also tell them how the company will help them to update their skills and education. Most of the employees when they learn that they are getting a chance to learn further, take rejection news rather heartily, for them the chances will be better the next time.
17. Top the feedback with negative comments rather sparingly:
Now, this is also a time to tell the employees where they lack. So, approach this topic slowly and tell them, one point at a time, which areas need improvement.
18. Not getting a promotion is not the end of a career:
The promotion is just a factor in their career but it does not define their abilities. This moment is again going to come. It is thus necessary to check and move one with further resolve. This is something you have to reinforce in the employee.
19. Give the process a little time:
At the end of the day, the realisation that they were not up to the mark for the promotion is going to be tough. No matter what you say or offer, the disappointment is going to stay for some time. Don’t think the process is over once you told them. Be patient and let the person overcome the phase. Just be there when you are needed.
20. Dealing with an employee who takes the news negatively:
There will be some who will not take the news much favourably. He might start behaving oddly, may not be punctual, or may not be that enthusiastic as he was before. His though might be, ‘I gave too much of me to this job, and this is how I was treated, so why care?” Remember, this is just an outburst and help him to get over this phase by constant communication, attention, handing over a new responsibility and appreciation.
21. Know what the employee thinks about the situation:
Ask him how he felt about the situation and what he thinks right and wrong. Criticism is another point but at this juncture, the employee might want to share his thoughts on some job matters. Listening to him and sharing information can be soothing for him and a learning experience for you, as the boss.
22. Come up with some incentives for cheering up:
As a boss, you may not be able to please each and every one but for the employee who has been given the hard news, you can offer small incentives such as allowing some flexible hours if he wishes to take up some training or getting to hold some workshops or even celebrating the appraisal, by involving everyone. This sends out a message that each one is important and just because a person didn’t get the promotion does not mean he is not up to the mark.
Remember, that whatever you do or however you might try, the disappointment and the despair are not going to go away. The idea is to make the process easier both for you and the employee and to let him realize that the process was fair and that it was a decision that had to be taken. The objective of making the process smooth is to not lose the employee but make him better at his work in the process.