Is Performance Alone Enough to Get You a Promotion? | TechWell

Is Performance Alone Enough to Get You a Promotion?

Is it time to scrap performance appraisals? This question is making the rounds in HR circles of some IT companies. Although it is debatable whether it is really possible to do away with all the shortcomings of the traditional ways of conducting appraisals, employees often voice their dissatisfaction in employee surveys about the process of promoting employees.

In the absence of good recognition systems, promotions are often seen as the ultimate form of employee recognition. So if someone doesn’t get the promotion he thinks he deserves, it often leads to questioning the fairness of the system.

One of the common observations that employees have about the promotion system is that their performance alone is the factor in deciding promotions. More often, the bone of contention between employees and managers during the performance discussions revolve around the answer to this question—"What factors are considered when deciding promotions?”

In his book Empowering Yourself, The Organizational Game Revealed, Harvey Coleman provides a unique perspective on this question. Coleman asserts that career success is based on three key elements—Performance, Image, and Exposure (PIE).

Performance: This is about the day-to-day work you’re tasked with and the quality of the results you deliver.

Image: This is what other people think of you. Your personal brand. Do you lead with solutions to issues, or are you the person that solely offers roadblocks when others suggest changes or alternatives?

Exposure: Who knows about you and what you do? Do others inside and outside your organization know anything about you? 

Coleman then makes a remark that many might find unsettling at first. Performance is just 10 percent of the reason for success in a career, image 30 percent, and exposure 60 percent. It might help to add that you wouldn’t even be a candidate for promotion without adequate performance, but when you become the candidate, the factors of image and exposure contribute to the final decision.

The importance of exposure in employee success is further explained by a comment in Utkarsh Rai’s book, 101 Myths & Realities @ The Office: "Promotions usually takes place when two or more levels of managers are of the same opinion. While the immediate manager has more say in promotion, he or she is not the lone decision maker." Though unsaid, this is a fact in most organizations.

One can always argue that in core research and development jobs, achieving targets and performing well are of great importance. While this notion cannot really be challenged, the importance of social skills such as image and exposure in an organizational context can be tracked back to the definition of organization as a social entity.

The next time you are tempted to make your case for a promotion, take good stock of the PIE factor!

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