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Ask Amy | The One About The Impromptu Promotion

Every Wednesday I give advice to an anonymous reader about a sticky professional situation they're currently in.

Do you need advice from Amy? Submit using the button below!

This week we have a distressed reader who feels their team is receiving unequal treatment.

"We found out as a team that one of our team members had gotten a promotion, but this position had not been posted, nor was it offered to the rest of us on the team. Apparently, my colleague was wanting to leave the company and they offered this to her ONLY so she wouldn’t leave as we are short staffed already. This was very upsetting to all of us as a team because we are all looking to move up."

Let's break this down:

Someone on the team felt dissatisfied with their job.

They told management, and that they want to leave.

Management promoted them to keep them in the company because the company is understaffed.

The rest of the team found out about the impromptu promotion and now they're upset.


There are a couple options I see here for what to do next. I'll start with the more tame one.

The team requests a meeting with management or HR (both might be good) and hashes this out. Explain that everyone wants a promotion and you're upset the opportunity was only presented to one person.

What will happen in the end if you go this route?

At the very least this gives management a chance to realize placating one employee who wants to leave is going to disrupt (in a bad way) the whole team.

At most maybe you'll all get a raise to placate the rest of the team, at least temporarily.

What won't happen: the whole team getting the promotion they also want.

There is no way this will actually solve the root problem.

The second option: RUN

Start applying to new jobs and get out of this company as soon as you can.

On your departure let them know it's because of this whole situation.

Teams can't thrive in this environment, and you'll never be happy (which is what's most important for you).

What's important for management is to know that they can not promote an employee who wants to leave AND have it work out well in any way:

  1. The employee will likely still want to leave.

  2. Now the rest of the team is unhappy and thinking about leaving too.

  3. While this is a bandaid for being understaffed, it won't last long and they'll likely be even more understaffed soon.

If your company is headed in this direction the absolute best thing you can do before it comes to this is partner with a Recruiting Agency that specializes in your industry. Recruiting Agencies have a pipeline and large networks to pull qualified passive candidates from.

Being understaffed WILL create high tension and bad situations for you and your employees.

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This is an opinion piece and not legal advice.

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