Jessica Powell, the former Google vice president who wrote The Big Disruption and told you how to quit your job, is here to answer your common but tricky work questions. Check back every other week for more management advice with a tech inflection.
As a manager, I occasionally find myself dealing with a direct report who is fixated on making more money and/or getting promoted as quickly as possible. How do I help them understand that it’s just going to take time?
Oh, those pesky employees who want money and promotions!
By the way, that’s pretty much all of us, and probably even you, too. Remembering that is key to handling this well.
I’m going to assume that you are primarily talking about people who are performing well in their roles. If they’re not, you have a different managerial problem on your hands, one that needs to shift the focus of any conversation away from promotion and onto the reality that these employees are underperforming.
But let’s assume that Jana and Kwame are solid performers who are on the right trajectory. In fact, this is probably part of the problem — they are doing well and have received positive feedback, and so they’re impatient or don’t understand why they have yet to be rewarded.
As their manager, you have a different point of view. Jana and Kwame are on their journey toward the next level but aren’t there yet. They need to hit other milestones before they’ll be ready for a promotion and/or raise — for example, an increased scope of role, greater autonomy, being more of a team player, hitting a particular sales or product target, etc.
The keys to managing their expectations are empathy and planning.
First, try to have a bit of compassion. As I wrote earlier, you were probably once fixated on these things yourself — maybe you still are! And really, isn’t it super normal to be obsessed with something that has a huge impact on your life and future?
Second, turn the wishy-washy “you have a bit further to go” rationale into something more concrete. You need to be…