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Responsibility and reward: how to judge whether your employees are ready


On the HBR.org 'Best Practices' blog, Amy Gallo outlines when you should reward employees with more responsibility and money.

Gallo observes: "Managers who want to recognise employees for good work have many tools at their disposal. One of the more traditional ways to reward a top performer is to give them a promotion or raise or both."

However, she asks: "How can you know whether someone is truly ready for the next challenge or deserving of that bump up in pay?"


Gallo says managers should be aware that who they reward sends a message to everyone in the company and so they must ensure that they are endorsing behaviour that fits in with the values of the organisation.

With that in mind, the author outlines some principles for deciding whether to recognise performance with promotion or a pay rise.

• Consider the 'competence-challenge balance'. Gallo says: "You need to always be assessing your people and be sure they are working at the edges of their abilities. If they are performing well but not learning anything new, a promotion or an alternative assignment may be best for both the individual and the organisation."

• Ensure there is a match. Just because someone is good at a job, it doesn't mean they will enjoy it, so have an honest conversation with the employee before deciding on the promotion.

• Experiment before making the new job permanent. Sometimes you might need time to judge the employee's suitability to the role, in which case you could design an assignment to test their skills. You should be transparent and outline a timeline and success criteria.

• Reward to fit the role. Consider all the duties of the role and try to benchmark them against other jobs within the organisation and in the broader market.

• Be clear when you say no. If the employee is not ready for promotion, have an open discussion about your concerns. Gallo says: "Be clear about what competencies or experiences he needs to gain in order to be promoted and create an action plan for how he can do that."

When To Reward Employees With More Responsibility And Money
Amy Gallo