According to research from Bersin by Deloitte, it costs about $4,000 to fill an open position in corporate America. Considering the cost of advertising vacancies, interviewing applicants, and training new hires, there is no question that promoting from within carries a clear advantage.

Promoting current employees also leads to better performance. A 2012 study found that external hires were 61 percent more likely to be fired than internal promotions — likely due to the latter’s deeper knowledge of operations and loyalty to the company. But beyond cost and efficiency, internal promotions also increase morale and help build a company culture in which employees feel valued and as a result, more engaged.

You have the right people. Here are four tips for pushing them into the right place so they’re ready for promotion at the next opportunity.

Goal Setting and Performance Development

Every manager’s dream is to hire the right person for the job and set them free to do it. While it’s true that you can select decisive, independent new hires, it’s unlikely that most of your employees will be prepared to move up the ladder without a heavier hand in their growth. A focus on performance development and facilitating of your team members’ growth for the next step will help make internal promotions more possible. You can use your performance management or employee engagement software to set and track goals without micromanaging. While managers should guide employee goal-setting, the process shouldn’t be a directive. Managers can work with employees to give direction on how employees can create individual goals that align to larger company objectives. When team members set their own goals, they’re much more likely to achieve them and down the road, they’ll be more prime candidates for internal promotions.

Transparency About Role Changes

It’s a common predicament: you can’t be what you can’t see. Just as having a more diverse team will help you build a more diverse candidate pool, creating a culture that practices upward mobility will make it more possible for your staff to see their own paths forward. Use your monthly or quarterly team meetings to celebrate team members who move up, and give them the opportunity to guide other employees from their own experience.

Also, make transparency about open (or soon-to-be-open) positions a priority. It’s critical that your team not only feels informed about what opportunities are available, but also encouraged to speak up about their interest in those opportunities.

Internal Mentoring Programs

Most organizations use a linear promotion strategy when hiring from within—the assistant manager becomes the manager, then the director, then the senior director, and so on. But smart organizations think outside the box, allowing staff to view themselves in a variety of positions that emphasize their skill sets.

One of the best ways to facilitate a more networked view of promotions is through mentorship. Give team members and chance to shadow the positions that interest them, and encourage mentor relationships that go beyond manager/direct report. This approach helps mentees become interested and capable in a wider variety of roles and gives the mentor more practice in coaching skills.

Kazoo gives employees an tool to initiative feedback and candid conversations with not only their managers, but colleagues across the organization. It also provides discussion guides to help managers hone their mentorship skills. Agile performance management and employee engagement software  is a great way to facilitate conversations and development opportunities in every department.

Access to Online Learning

Professional development opportunities at most organizations look like the occasional allowance for books or conferences directly related to an employee’s position. It’s important that your employees hone their current skills, but it’s also true that your most valuable team members often the switch hitters—those who can step up to bat when an urgent need arises that’s not necessarily in their job descriptions.

Online learning sites such as help employees seek development opportunities related to their current work, and in skill sets outside their job descriptions. Providing your people with access to these tools is a win-win—it conveys your commitment to and belief in them, while bringing more valuable and promotable skills into your organization.

Successful leaders don’t look at their company’s org chart and see names tethered to their seats—they look at an org chart and see untethered talent, fluid and capable of stepping in where and when needed. All it takes is a little push.

Today’s guest post was written by Karri Bishop is a marketing communications specialist at TechnologyAdvice, a B2B marketing firm that connects buyers and sellers of business technology. Karri manages social media strategy and covers various topics in the industry.

This blog series is to help employees make 2017 the best year yet. We spend 30% of our lives at work – this checklist will help employees get the most of their time and develop the skills that can turn jobs into something meaningful. If you missed it, check out our posts on embracing a growth mindset, proactively engaging your manager and expanding your feedback circle.

2017 Employee Checklist

hook-1727484_1280  Embrace a growth mindset

hook-1727484_1280 Start the conversation

hook-1727484_1280 Expand your feedback circle

hook-1727484_1280 Put your goals to work

Business is in a constant state of motion. New products are developed, new partnerships are formed and consumer trends are, well, trendy. For a company to be successful, it must constantly evolve and be innovative to its core. Employees must have the same mindset for their own work as well.

If the first three posts in this series were to give employees the tools to raise the bar on their own achievements in 2017, this post will help them become the best versions of themselves yet. Here are three key pieces of advice to bring it all together.

Consistency is key.

Embracing a growth mindset, forging a better employee-manager relationship and asking for feedback aren’t tasks to be checked off a to-do list. They should remain at the top until the day an employee retires.

Something can be learned at each stage of an employee’s career, whether it’s at entry level or from the corner office. One important trait of rising employees is the ability to recognize both their shortcomings and their potential. The same is true a great CEO. All aspects of a company – from its employees and culture to its products and services – are always evolving. To stay on top, everyone – even the CEO — must set new goals and gather feedback from all areas of the organization.

Failure and success are equally important.

While it’s a cliché to say that we all learn from our mistakes, it’s never been truer than in the context of not achieving professional goals. Employees should embrace failures as opportunities to re-examine both the goal itself and the path to get there. They may discover that there’s a better way to achieve their goals or that they should be after a different outcome entirely.

Employees often forget to go through the same reflective process when they achieve their goals. For example, an employee may set a goal to be promoted to their team’s director. As part of that process, they set a goal to become a manager on the team. After achieving it, they actually discover that they are miserable in that position and prefer to be more of a contributor to the team than leading its team members. If they take the time to process their successes, they’ll discover at this step that they need to adapt their original goal.

It’s okay to for the path to a dream career to look a bit jagged. That just means you’ve tried and failed, pushed yourself and grown along the way.


Acknowledging good work and little wins along the way serve as motivation to continue working toward larger, more long-term goals. Even some failures should be acknowledged – it means employees have stretched themselves instead of taking the safe and easy route. And, if failures are treated as opportunities for growth, they also mean employees have re-set their course and reprioritized their goals.

A key component of celebrating successes is to do so in a public way. Utilizing the power of the crowd to encourage and drive performance can be a great way to motivate and establish a strong between employees at the same time.

Want to have your best year yet? Put these initiatives at the top of your to-do list, and leave them there each day.

  1. Stretch yourself to make your goals count.
  2. Create a better, lasting relationship with your manager.
  3. Continuously gather feedback more broadly across your organization.
  4. Keep changing, growing and adapting your plans.

This blog series is to help employees make 2017 the best year yet. We spend 30% of our lives at work – this checklist will help employees get the most of their time and develop the skills that can turn jobs into something meaningful. If you missed it, check out our posts on embracing a growth mindset and proactively engaging your manager. This week’s post focuses on widening your “feedback net” to get a more comprehensive picture of performance.

2017 Employee Checklist

hook-1727484_1280 Embrace a growth mindset

hook-1727484_1280 Start the conversation

hook-1727484_1280 Expand your feedback circle

em-dash Put your goals to work

Walk into any newly designed office today and you’re bound to see fewer doors and cubicles and more group seating areas and conference rooms. This design trend supports the shift toward employee collaboration.

Organizations have found that breaking down barriers between employees, literally and figuratively, can lead to better solutions. It’s also the preferred work style for younger generations. A recent Deloitte study found that when Millennials worked in roles with a high level of cross-team collaboration, they were more than twice as satisfied.

For these reasons, it’s increasingly common to see cross-departmental teams brought together to solve a specific challenge or work on a short-term project. Yet, to assess performance, managers rarely look outside their team for feedback. And similarly, you won’t find many of those team members proactively telling a manager how they feel their performance.

Co-workers from other areas of the organization can bring a new perspective on an employee’s performance. They lack bias, judgment and history, all of which can significantly skew how an other team members might evaluate an employee. So, what can employees do to ensure that feedback is given and shared with managers? And how can they use that feedback to their full advantage?

Make it a habit to ask for it.

While it may take an employee out of their comfort zone, the reward far outweighs the risk. Employees should try to ask for feedback in a variety of situations – regardless of how long they’ve worked together (it only take a few minutes to make an impression) or how they feel they performed (we’re usually pretty tough on ourselves).

Share positive feedback with managers.

Positive reinforcement is great for personal morale, but it also bodes well for employees during review time. If employees receive a particularly glowing review, there’s no shame in sharing it with managers. It shows they’re engaged in their work and are actively promoting a positive team culture. When they share it themselves or ask the co-worker if they’d mind sharing it directly, a manager should factor that feedback into their performance activities.

Use constructive feedback to improve before it becomes a wider issue.

If an employee does receive some constructive criticism, it should be perceived as a learning opportunity. It may sting, but in the long run, that simple feedback could have a much greater impact on an employee’s career than a rave review.

How does your company collect feedback when employees collaborate across teams?

Taking the safe route in business is usually the easiest. But Patagonia is flipping a traditional, more conservative approach on its head. The sustainable clothing retailer proves that being a pioneer can land you at the top.

The company is becoming the gold standard for a forward-thinking, progressive approach to HR and business in general. In addition to their efforts to completely modernize their approach to performance management, they’ve made headlines several times over the past few months for (among other things) donating Black Friday sales to charity, providing on-site childcare at its headquarters, working toward fair trade in its factories around the world and actively listening to employee needs. In case you’ve missed it, here are some ways that Patagonia is taking chances that are paying off:

Customers Buy In To Values

While the company originally projected to make $2M on Black Friday, the retailer actually hauled in $10M in sales. Patagonia will donate profits to “hundreds of grassroots environmental organizations.” Its commitment to sustainability and transparency runs through many of its HR practices, which seems to be translating into increased sales.

Actually Providing a Work/Life Balance

Patagonia also made headlines recently for its longstanding practice of offering on-site childcare to its employees. In fact the 30+ years-old program has come “full circle” with one man whose mother brought him to work at Patagonia as a child now working as an apparel designer for the company. The company understands that providing a healthy balance between work and your personal life leads to happier, more engaged employees on the job.

Making Fair Trade a Reality

Patagonia is taking critical steps toward making fair trade a scalable business reality. As said in the video linked above, “We’re not here just to make a product, it’s about sending a message to the world so that eventually no factory has workers who are exploited. It should not be tolerated in this day and age. We need to keep the pressure on so that every brand is doing this.”

Listening to Employees Lowers Turnover

Patagonia’s VP of Human Resources, Dean Carter, understood that when an employee chooses to leave a company, they’re leaving clues long beforehand. So to prevent talented employees from walking out the door, Patagonia actively listens to their feedback and monitors sentiment. What’s more important than hearing what employees want? Not hearing anything at all. Carter and his team are creating a workplace culture where transparency is crucial, and as a result, turnover is almost nonexistent.

Does your company take a safer approach to both business and HR initiatives? Do you see a risk in actually playing it safe for too long?

A lot of HR attention is focused on finding the best talent, making your company attractive to those with impressive LinkedIn profiles and courting the most sought-after professionals. It makes sense: you need the right people to be successful. But too often times those who are considering positions with your company get more attention than those who already work there.

An organization’s current employees – not candidates – are its true differentiator. So how does your company support your employees’ needs to develop, grow and be successful day after day? One surefire way they are NOT getting those opportunities is through an outdated performance management process.

We all already know why the traditional performance management process doesn’t work. Annual reviews aren’t enough and one-sided assessments don’t give you the full picture. Many of you are ready to move on to things like continuous feedback, agile goals and frequent employee check-ins to get a clearer view of performance.

It’s not a matter of why you should re-think the process, but how to go about implementing the one you want. In our newest resource, The Ultimate Toolkit for Transitioning to Continuous Employee Development, we help you map out the plan to get from Point A to Point B. In it we cover everything from designing a plan and securing stakeholder buy-in to branding your program and keeping it fresh.

Download our newest toolkit and kick off 2017 with a new plan to develop your greatest asset: your employees.

This blog series is to help employees make 2017 the best year yet. We spend 30% of our lives at work – this checklist will help employees get the most of their time and develop the skills that can turn jobs into something meaningful. If you missed it, check out our first post on embracing a growth mindset.

2017 Employee Checklist

hook-1727484_1280 Embrace a growth mindset

hook-1727484_1280 Start the conversation

em-dash Expand your feedback circle

em-dash Put your goals to work

By now we all know that talking about performance once a year isn’t going to cut it. If employees want to truly develop new skills and progress, they need to proactively work with their managers to make that happen.

Typically managers drive interaction. When there is an issue, a new project or need for a meeting, managers take the lead. This dynamic isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it also places the burden on managers and creates an environment where employees feel like they’re simply taking directives from their superiors.

The ways that employees and managers interact is incredibly important: checking in on goal progress, sharing feedback in real-time and staying current on the broader team’s activities is critical to the success of any employee. But for employees who are looking to advance or get out of a rut in 2017, they can take it one step further. Connecting informally and proactively with their managers will give them an opportunity to grow in ways that could have a big-time effect on their careers.

Here’s three proactive ways employees should interact with their managers if they’re looking to get more out of their jobs in 2017.

Develop and share goals and dream career plans. Managers have the power to provide opportunities and resources to help employees get to the next level, but they need to know where they want to go. If employees are open about their plans, managers can be their internal champions for new roles or departments within the organization.

Ask for advice. All managers have started lower on the totem pole in their careers. Whether employees are having personality issues with a co-worker or are unsure how to handle a situation, managers can offer employees a new perspective to help them through some nuanced situations that may not come up in a more formal review scenario.

Work through problem areas together. A common mistake many people make is to hide their weaknesses from their managers. In reality, no one is perfect (even your manager). When employees expose problem areas and ask for ways to improve them, it might actually put them on the fast-track to a promotion. This demonstrates self-awareness and willingness to improve – both of which are great traits regardless of title or position.

If employees aren’t sure how or where to initiate these conversations, encourage them to grab a quick coffee with their bosses. Take advantage of time spent together waiting for the elevator. Spend a few minutes together at your next company outing or even stay behind after a meeting to chat.

Know of any other great ways to for employees to informally connect with their managers?

On the whole, it’s good news for employees this holiday season. A recent survey of 500 HR execs found that 75% of them intended to hand out a cash holiday bonus, up from 67% last year. So, what are the other 25% of companies doing for employees this holiday season? Some indicated they’d be giving out non-monetary rewards. (Uh-oh. We’re crossing our fingers that no one ends up with a ham.)

For the rest, giving out any type of bonus just isn’t in the cards this year. If employees were expecting it, it could lead to an uncomfortable situation. Co-workers might complain to each other or even their managers, and negativity could spread like wildfire. The last thing a company needs is a group of disgruntled, unengaged employees as you kick off a new year.

As the gatekeepers of a company’s culture, HR has the opportunity to step in and prevent any lasting damage.

And it won’t cost a thing.

Here’s some (mostly) free ways to rally your employees together in an effort to encourage a little holiday cheer and thankfulness this season.

  • Survey your employees and ask them to identify a handful of employees for various reasons (helped them out, impacted the company, promoted a positive culture, etc.) and then share the results via a company newsletter.
  • Ask employees to send an email saying “thank you” to one person outside of their department who impacted their work. Never underestimate the power of saying “thank you” – it can actually have scientifically proven benefits for employees and positive affects on your business.
  • Give employees a piece of paper and ask them to write out a good deed another employee did for them, and then display them all on a large board in a central area of the office. Or, use your office Christmas tree to display them! If you’re using a recognition and rewards platform, you can amplify those acknowledgments and share them with remote employees.
  • Take stock of your high-performing employees and inquire if they’re interesting in paying it forward. Offer them the opportunity in the coming year to mentor and coach other employees who might benefit from their expertise.

Remember, the goal of a holiday bonus is to show appreciation to your employees for their hard work all year. If you find yourself at a company that’s forgoing bonuses this year, consider these other ways to recognize employees.