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  • Writer's pictureActagan

Secret to getting your promotions approved

How to debunk the "No business need for the promotion"?

It's performance review time. Three of my team members have been punching above their weight and are deserving of promotions. They are all high performers of my team, and are already executing at the next level. I agree their promotions have strong merit. My goal is to make sure that my employees are recognized for their contributions and not look for other opportunities.

Now I have to scramble and find my notes, dig up the work they have done, create a portfolio of proof points for each of them, and get ready to present my case upwards.

2 weeks later I received the feedback that there isn't budget for all my 3 promotion requests. I did get 2 approved (by that I mean that I got the budget to promote 2 employees), but I did not get them all. I feel good because more than 50% of my request get approved. I chose the employee who didn't get a promotion, communicate the performance reviews, and move on.

1 month later, the employee I didn't promote sent in his resignation saying they were moving on to other opportunities. One of the employee I promoted also found a new job in a different company now that they achieved a new phase in their career. And now I only have 1 high performer left in my team.

Exit interview from the promoted individual said the promotion was great but not fair. All 3 of them should get the promotions. The BS lacking business reasons created strong mis-trust with the management.

Most of you must have experienced the first section of my story, and hopefully never have to deal with the last part.


There could be a better story:

It's performance review time. I have to write 8 reviews and give 360 feedback to another 10 employees. Busy time.

My boss came to me and asked, "Hey, are we still on track to promote the 3 team members of yours? I know they have been growing well in your team. And we have allocated budget for them."

And it's so simple, the 3 team member got promoted - becoming ever more motivated and engaged in the organization.


In most companies, promotion budgets are allocated by the CFO based on revenue and expense. While there are business models to predict revenue and expenses with data coming from the front line teams, human personnel costs are mostly allocated as a "best practiced" fixed percentage without much data from the teams.

Wouldn't it be nice if there is a dashboard that can predict personnel cost just like a revenue dashboard? So decisions are not purely top down?


You goal here is to communicate a dashboard up to your management chain so team's effort on career growth is highly visible, and promotions are expected. Additionally, enough dollar is included in a budget that you influenced.

Here is a framework that help you take back control:

1. Baseline where you are

  • Create a framework of growth and establish a blueprint for what scope and responsibility means at different job levels.

  • You and your directs individually evaluate performance against this blueprint and compare notes.

Note: These honest and open discussions are a key step to building trust between you and the direct reports.

2. Establish growth plans

Based on the previous conversation, and together with your business goals, you and your direct reports can create an employee growth plan that can advance business goals and meet the professional needs of your employee.

3. Periodic check-in

A growth plan remains only a plan if you don't take actions on it. The best way is to include a growth plans check-in into your 1:1 meeting agenda. So the direct report can share the progress and ask for help, and you can provide assistance to unblock and discuss opportunities.

4. Organization growth overview and dashboard

Once you formed a baseline and growth plans you now have a clear picture where each employee stands in relation to their professional goals. You also know who is working on which areas. This is where you can create your dashboard showing the career progression of your employees to meet business needs.

The dashboard can have the following information:

  • Who has reached a particular level of career growth and how it maps to business deliverables.

  • Who has an active growth plan and working towards the next level, or looking to grow in scope?

  • As an aggregate, surface the team's set of competencies.

This is the dashboard you can share with your CFO regularly so they can visualize the growth trends, and have the data to allocate promotion budget besides the general percentage.

5. Personalized proof points

The last step leads you to compile proof points during performance review or promotion approval cycle. This shouldn't be a memory mastermind effort. Compiling performance review proof points is an activity anchored in reviewing the growth plans and extracting proof points associated to the employee's growth. You are already doing all this work with your employee already. So your work here should minimal - like a press of a button.

These steps provide you with a comprehensive promotion request package that cannot be denied.


The steps in the framework may look like daunting and cumbersome to do manually. And yes, the process requires work. Actagan is built specifically to facilitate this framework. It's simple to use and follows each step in this process. With Actagan you put most of the work in the hands of the individual contributors and make it easier for them to focus on the right things in their career development. So you can build motivated and engaged team, and up level your team with ease. Schedule a demo of Actagan now.

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