Improving Customer Service

Issue # 62 of 70 

John T. Self, Ph.D.
By: Dr. John T. Self

The Morale of the Story: Smooth Promotion Transitions

Out of the blue the boss approaches me to ask me to lunch. "Strange," I think, "I haven't been asked to lunch in months. I wonder what's up?"

As we sit down in a very nice restaurant--and since we didn't go to a burger place--I feel it's safe to assume that the purpose of the lunch is not to fire me.

"As you may be aware, our company is starting to expand and we're going to need some strong people to help in this expansion," he says.

I nod knowingly while looking concerned yet thoughtful.

"To make a long story short, we'd like you to be our new director of sales. We think you're ready and we've always liked your energy and knowledge."

I know that this is a new position that they are creating for me. I am thrilled--perks, raise, travel, prestige. How can I say no?

"Great," I say. "I'm ready!" As we get in the car to go back to work, I ask when we will talk about the details of the new position. He gives me some vague "Don't worry, we'll get back to you" kind of line and that is that.

Later that week, I go into the boss's office and ask if it is a good time to discuss the details of the new job. "No, see me sometime next week," he says. When I persist by asking what my new title will be, he answers: "I don't know. You make it up."

What is happening here?

What is happening is that this employee, who was promoted because of his/her knowledge, energy and skills, has gone from being an excited, appreciative and dedicated manager to one who is angry and frustrated. And all for no reason--unless ignorance of good personnel skills can be considered a reason.

The moral to this story is actually some very important advice: BEFORE you tell someone they have been promoted, have all your facts together:

  • The exact start date of the new position
  • New title
  • New job description
  • Salary increase
  • Perks

Don't waste a wonderful opportunity to build loyalty and trust in your employees by not being prepared. It is much better to wait till you can address all issues that the new person would logically need to know when promoted. Don't be the cause of turning a great employee into a disgruntled one.

As a boss, think about the next few "bossisms." Are they being used by your employees about you?

SELF-MOTIVATED: Management won't answer questions.

MUST BE DEADLINE-ORIENTED: You'll be six months behind schedule on your first day.

SOME OVERTIME REQUIRED: Some time each night and some time each weekend.

WHERE EMPLOYEES FEEL VALUED: Those who missed the last round of layoffs, that is.

PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS A MUST: You're walking into a company in perpetual chaos.

REQUIRES TEAM LEADERSHIP SKILLS: You'll have the responsibilities of a manager, without the pay or respect.

GOOD COMMUNICATION SKILLS: Management communicates. You listen, figure out what they want, and do it.

ABILITY TO HANDLE A HEAVY WORKLOAD: If you whine, you're fired.

WILLING TO RELOCATE: As I'm leaving San Quentin, anywhere's better.


HIGHLY MOTIVATED TO SUCCEED: The minute I find a better job, I'm out of here.

John T. Self is a lecturer at The Collins School of Hospitality Management at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona). Prior to entering academia, Dr. Self spent fifteen years in the restaurant industry. While in the corporate world, he worked for several chains including Chili's and Steak and Ale, and as vice president of a regional restaurant chain overseeing six restaurants with sales of over twenty million dollars. He has also owned three independent restaurants, including a comedy club.
Dr. Self has also been involved in the development of international hospitality programs. While at Golden Gate University, he started the partnership with Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China and is continuing in that involvement at Cal Poly.

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Text © Dr. John T. Self, 1997,1998. Part of the original Sideroad.