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  • Writer's pictureAnna Conrad

How to Make Sure Promotions Don’t Ignite Conflict


Promotions, while ostensibly a cause for celebration, can inadvertently sow seeds of discord within a team if not handled with utmost care and strategic foresight. The elevation of one team member over others can stir emotions, breed jealousy, and potentially disrupt the harmonious flow of the workplace. This article delves into the intricate dynamics of promotions. It provides a roadmap to ensure they are executed without sparking detrimental conflicts.


Why Promotions Create Conflict

  • Perception of Injustice: When a team member perceives a promotion as unjust, it can breed resentment and negatively impact their performance and interpersonal relationships.

  • Threat to Self-Identity: Employees may feel their skills and contributions are undervalued when overlooked for a promotion.

  • Disrupted Team Dynamics: Promoting one member can alter existing team hierarchies and dynamics, potentially leading to friction.

64% of workers have experienced favoritism in the workplace

According to a survey by Robert Half, 64% of workers have experienced favoritism in the workplace, highlighting the prevalence of perceived injustice related to promotions.


How to Mitigate Potential Conflicts

  • Transparent Communication: Communicate the criteria and decision-making process behind promotions to dispel notions of favoritism and ensure all team members understand the rationale behind the decision.

  • Inclusive Decision-Making: Involve team members in decision-making when possible, ensuring their voices and perspectives are considered and valued.

  • Recognition of Efforts: Acknowledge the skills and contributions of all team members, ensuring they feel valued and appreciated, even if they were not promoted.

Google is an example of a company that incorporates all of above. The company employs a comprehensive and transparent promotion process that includes self-nominations and peer reviews, ensuring that promotions are perceived as fair and merit-based.


How to Foster a Healthy Environment After the Promotion is Announced

It is important to continue to monitor and work hard after the promotion is announced. Here are a few ways help with this:

  • Support for the Promoted: Provide adequate training and support to the promoted individual to ensure they transition smoothly into their new role.

  • Addressing the Team: Facilitate a team meeting to discuss the promotion, allowing team members to express their thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive environment.

  • Continuous Engagement: Regularly engage with the team to gauge the post-promotion atmosphere and promptly address any emerging issues.


Promotions, while inherently positive, can be a double-edged sword, potentially causing conflict and disruption within a team. By understanding the potential pitfalls and implementing strategic actions, leaders can navigate the delicate path of promotions, ensuring they bolster, rather than hinder, team cohesion and productivity. Through transparent communication, inclusive decision-making, and continuous engagement, leaders can foster a healthy, supportive, and harmonious workplace environment where every member feels valued and recognized.


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