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Should an extra working employee be promoted first?

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

One of the most ethical dilemmas in any corporate appraisal process is about promoting people who work beyond general norms. There are a lot of ways by which the manager, the HR, and the team members perceive the work behavior of an employee. And this affects the overall decision making of promotion and appraisals.

In a general scenario, employees are allotted various tasks to be completed with good quality within the stipulated time. Although a few people can be slow in their execution and have to work for more than the time allotted. In order to complete the task allotted as per the deadlines decided, this extra time can be churned out of their personal time only. In an ideal case, if some person is working extra on this basis will not be concerned talented, despite putting extra effort, especially when compared with others who can complete the same tasks within the general office hours.

But, when it comes to startups and sometimes in the well-established companies, many employees are ambitious, want to grow at a rapid pace, and spend extra time beyond the general office hour limits, deliver extra than what is expected, and then expect themselves to be promoted faster (category 1). On the contrary, another person with the same capabilities but putting efforts effectively for general office hours only has a problem (category 2).

The actual incident can be described by considering two employees A and B, wherein A falls under 1st category whereas B falls under the 2nd category, assuming that they are equally capable in every aspect. The difference is that employee A works for 12 hours effectively - even though office hours are generally considered 9 hours - and delivers more amount of work than expected. Whereas employee B works effectively for 9 hrs and delivers the work as expected and maintains a better work-life balance. Finally, if employee A is promoted sooner than employee B, the latter has an issue about the promotion of employee A, considering he did nothing wrong for not getting a promotion.

Objectively, employee A delivers more work, thus reaping in more benefits for the company, and benefitting himself too. Even though the employee A is putting extra effort for his own benefit, this is considered even more valuable, when the company is also in crunch situation - a common thing in start ups and rapidly growing companies. One of the major issues to be handled by the companies after every appraisal is this issue.

It is generally one of the misconceptions that employee B is having a setback. When we translate this situation into an analogy, it will look very clear.

Let us consider, our learning is a journey of 1000 km, and getting a promotion is like reaching the destination after the journey. Assuming that both the employees are equally capable and can walk 4 km an hour, I deduce that employee A (who works effectively for 12 hrs a day) walks for 48 Kms in a day, whereas employee B (who works effectively for 9 hrs a day) walks for 36 Kms. Overall employee A reaches the destination approx. In 21 days and employee B in 28 days. So, employee A is promoted after 21 days and employee B after 28 days.

In short, we need to consider that employee B is promoted as per the usual standards, whereas employee A is promoted faster. If this interpretation is understood clearly, there would not be an issue between them. Moreover, it is also apt as per the Universal laws. Employee A gained promotion faster at the expense of some of his personal benefits.

As a company, however, you should make sure the employees are achieving work-life balance. Crunch situations for a year or two can be accommodated. In the long run, a well-balanced team and work will keep the employees happy and stay with companies for longer time.

PS: This article is written considering both the employees are working with the right spirit. If the employee is working more with some wrong intentions, indulged in politics, and affecting the company the onus is on the seniors to understand it and take necessary steps.

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