Most companies believe they have a fair system for promotion. Most companies appear to be wrong. Not only that, but most systems for appraising employees for promotion seem to be a waste of time.
In a study conducted by Georgetown University, researchers analyzed 303 online interviews of managers who had hiring/firing and promotion responsibilities. Here’s what came out of the analysis:
- Most bosses said they already know who they wanted to promote before any process took place. At least 56% said they had pretty much made up their minds before reviewing the candidates and their qualifications. And the bosses added that the “favorite” person ends up with the promotion 96% of the time.
- Favoritism is widespread — and misunderstood. In direct responses, only 23% admitting to practicing “favoritism” — even though more than half said they chose people without reviewing qualifications. And 83% said this sort of favoritism leads to worse decisions in promoting people. In other words, many practice favoritism but don’t call it that and don’t consider how their actions lead to bad decisions. (Apparently, the decisions are bad only when they’re made by others.)
- HR people tend to believe they’re addressing the problem. Over 90% said their company has procedures in place to prevent favoritism in promotions.
Sidebar note: Women pay more attention to the fairness issue than men do. When asked to name the top 10 qualities of a good manager, 55% of women cited fairness, as compared to 38% of men.