Seniority or Early Productivity – Which Gets You Promoted First?

Seniority or competency - which gets promoted first?

Many young leaders start in a new company and are very talented. Their work is noticed by others because they are eager to show they can master the tasks they’re assigned. In many cases, they are given the basic level tasks that no one else wants to do. They are eager to work so they gladly accept these ground level assignments.

In a recent survey, 57% of executives believe that seniority should be promoted first over people who have not yet paid their dues.

Compensation strategy can reinforce the organizational culture that is desired. Pay increase based on employee’s length of time spent on the job. This is seniority-based pay that is a good motivator in employee retention. But here, you are not rewarding performance.

You can also give pay increases based on job-related skills and knowledge. This is intended to motivate your people to gain additional skills, acquire new competencies and knowledge. Under this method, you do not pay employees for the job they are-doing, their job title or seniority.
This is competency-based pay. Source:

Is it fair to promote someone who is less talented because they have been there longer? Many talented young workers are overlooked by management who promotes less qualified employees who have seniority. Is that right?

What advice would you give leaders on promoting new employees? Seniority or Competency based – chicken or the egg?

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2 thoughts on “Seniority or Early Productivity – Which Gets You Promoted First?

  1. Great observation. Too often among the ranks of civil service personnel, ‘seniority’ is viewed as the primary reason for advancement.Not in small business nor high-tech industry where productivity and money-saving ideas are the chief consideration for promotion.

  2. Innovation and results are what drives success in most companies. I’m sure former Apple CEO Steve Jobs didn’t promote people solely on seniority. Maybe this is one of the problems in many companies getting better. How they recognize great performers is related to long term success of the company.

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