How Are Startups Approaching Employee Promotions in 2023?

By Grit Daily Staff Grit Daily Staff has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on January 25, 2023

From rewarding success to staying consistent, here are 12 answers to the question, “How are you approaching startup employee promotions in 2023?”

  • Incentivize Success and Employee Loyalty
  • Identify the Traits You Would Want in a New Hire
  • Create a Dashboard to Analyze KPIs
  • Provide a Clear Path to Promotions
  • Use Micro-Promotions
  • Be Vocal About Upward Mobility
  • Build a Career Map for Every Employee
  • Explain Employees’ Individual Growth Plans
  • Focus on Actionable Metrics
  • Promote Managers in Groups of 2+
  • Cultivate a Meritocracy
  • Recognize Consistent Contributions

Incentivize Success and Employee Loyalty

We are considering implementing different rewards programs, such as loyalty points that can be exchanged for products or services related to the company’s industry.

This gives employees incentives to stay with the business and further its goals by reaching new customers or diversifying offerings. Rewarding performance is key too; reward success with bonus compensation for those who meet or exceed their targets on time each month.

Tasia Duske, CEO, Museum Hack

Identify the Traits You Would Want in a New Hire

If you’re promoting an employee within your company, the first thing to look at is whether they have the traits that your company is looking for in a new hire. While they may not have the exact experience that you would want, consider if they have the potential to develop into the type of person you want working for you.

For example, if you’re looking for someone with a lot of experience in a certain field, they may not have the exact qualifications on their résumé or experience, but they could have the passion, drive, and work ethic that you’re looking for.

Matthew Ramirez, CEO, Rephrasely

Create a Dashboard to Analyze KPIs

All employees, regardless of whether they work at larger corporations or lean startups, deserve a promotion if they are meeting and exceeding their KPIs. The responsibility of analyzing and studying these metrics lies with the managers and HR leaders.

This is why creating a user-friendly dashboard is so important, because it gives you a bird’s-eye view of an employee’s performance, which enables you to make data-backed decisions without keeping your workforce waiting.

Demi Yilmaz, Co-Founder,

Provide a Clear Path to Promotions

One tip for approaching startup employee promotions is to have a clear and transparent promotion process in place. This should include clear criteria for advancement, regular performance evaluations, and open communication with employees about their career development.

This will help ensure that promotions are based on merit and that employees understand the steps they need to take to advance within the company. Additionally, it is important to provide employees with opportunities for skill development and growth, such as training and mentorship programs, to prepare them for leadership roles within the company.

Sanket Shah, CEO, InVideo

Use Micro-Promotions

Micro-promotions are small, frequent opportunities for employees to receive recognition and greater responsibility within a startup.

These incremental, temporary elevations can show employees a clear path as well as provide motivation for growth and achievement. I have personally seen how micro-promotions can create employee loyalty and motivation with tangible results that not only include financial compensation but also an enhanced feeling of contribution to the company’s mission.

Rosmy Barrios, Director, Health Reporter

Be Vocal About Upward Mobility

There can be a lot of secrecy around promotions in startups, or vague allusions to a potential promotion that never happens. When approaching promotions, be vocal at the start of the year that there are active plans in motion for promoting employees, and offer resources to help employees prepare.

This could mean open office hours, mentorship or shadowing opportunities, or more frequent performance assessments if requested. Transparency around the process and follow-through with promotions will keep your workforce motivated and show you are true to your word.

Andrew Gonzales, President,

Build a Career Map for Every Employee

Don’t make assumptions about your startup team’s career objectives. Not every startup employee wants to take on a managerial role one day, even if they’re high achievers you think would be well-suited.

Start a development program that begins with a career map you build together. Once you know which roles your employees are interested in, you can start mapping them into roles as they open up. The key is to maintain regular communication to ensure your goals still align with your actions. Not everyone is cut out for management, so you need to know which teammates strive to rise and which would rather stay put.

Jack Underwood, CEO & Co-Founder, Circuit

Explain Employees’ Individual Growth Plans

Employees of startups take a risk by joining the organization, usually in exchange for a good culture and the possibility of a huge reward long-term. But what keeps startup employees engaged is understanding how they fit into the overall growth plan of the organization and what their career trajectory could be with the organization.

Many of the recent college graduates that comprise a significant percentage of a startup’s workforce value interesting projects, training opportunities, and a clear career path above other benefits and perks. Of course, the pay has to be enough to meet their needs and expectations, but, beyond that, be ready to provide the guidance and resources needed for them to “level up” with you.

Susan Snipes, Chief People & Culture Consultant, GoCo

Focus on Actionable Metrics

Focus on clear and measurable performance metrics, rather than relying solely on subjective evaluations. This will help ensure that promotions are based on objective criteria, and will make it easier for employees to understand the requirements for advancement within the company.

Additionally, it’s important to have regular check-ins with employees to discuss their performance and goals and to provide ongoing feedback and support to help them improve and advance in their roles.

Brad Cummins, Founder, Insurance Geek

Promote Managers in Groups of 2+

Prioritize management promotions in pairs or groups. No manager should have over five direct reports, especially those with little previous experience. To help manage the growing pains, promote managers in spurts, rather than leaving them to figure it out solo.

As a group, they have built-in support, emotional sounding boards, and the opportunity to learn from each other’s wins and mistakes. Teaming up new management promotions helps avoid alienation, sets new managers up for better success, and profoundly bonds your management team.

Maximilian Wühr, CGO & Co-Founder, FINN

Cultivate a Meritocracy

My primary tip for startup promotions is to focus on “meritocracy,” which is based on rewarding employees for hard work, performance, and contributions instead of simply time served. Meritocracy rewards progress rather than seniority and encourages performance from all levels of staff.

Implementing this system fairly requires input from a variety of sources, such as current and past job performance, management evaluations, peer feedback, credit for projects outside the scope of an individual’s job description, as well as a fair assessment of any additional qualifications or training that could help move the team forward.

Grace He, People & Culture Director,

Recognize Consistent Contributions 

Focus on promoting employees who have made consistent contributions and have proven their skills. To ensure fair and effective promotions, companies should focus on data-driven performance evaluations and use a system that provides insight into employee growth and potential.

Companies should expand their definition of performance criteria beyond sales or numbers to recognize achievements, such as improving processes or customer satisfaction scores. Finally, a crucial part of successful employee promotion strategies should include giving employees opportunities to receive ongoing training and development to foster growth in the organization.

Mina Elias, Founder & CEO, Trivium

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