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How To Keep The Best Employees Without Promoting Them?

Updated on October 29, 2014

One major problem that any business owner may face, especially entrepreneurs of fast-growing businesses is to retain the best employees without having to promote them into managers. You should be aware that there are excellent employees with excellent technical skills and performances, but just do not want to be managers or don’t have potential for management positions.

Yes, there are kind of profiles that work their job perfectly, and job promotion may not act positively on them.

Excellent technical skills of individual employees represent a huge asset for any business. These technical skills are those that produce impressive business results.

For example, some developers in many situations do not want a managerial position because they want to sit up late at night in front of their own computer and write code that will be of a tremendous value for company they fork for. If you promote such individuals into managers as part of your reward system, you will destroy their creativity, because new position requires new responsibilities and goals.

In such a situation an entrepreneur or manager will have a big dilemma. The dilemma is how to retain the best and at the same time be rewarded, satisfied and respected without having them promote into managers.

You can take two approaches. Both are important for every employee, not just for the best ones.

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Employee Recognition
Employee Recognition
Employee Recognition

Compensation in the form of cash

Money is an important element for each employee. Everyone wishes they got paid more. It will be the same next year as well and the year after that.

Compensation in the form of cash is something that many successful companies already do, and see positive results.

If someone is really needed for the current position, and at the same time he or she or does not have potential or just do not want a management position, it is better to stay on the same operational level. But they can expect some cash prizes. Talented employees know how valuable they are to the business, and know that they bring brilliant results. This implies that employees know when they should be rewarded for their efforts and well done job.

HR's or managers can use different ways for separating these employees than average ones. Here are some ideas:

  • Increase in salary
  • Cash prizes after each successfully completed task or project
  • Giveaways
  • Paid vacation for them and their families
  • Paid tuition fees for their children
  • Global recognition

The last idea, Global recognition, does not mean anything else than recognise an employee in front of the whole company. For example, some organisation run global business events, where they share the numbers and future projects.

These events (2 or 4 through the year) are ideal time to recognise good employees, and reward them with cash prizes.

Non-financial rewards

Cash rewards are important, but do not represent a unique opportunity for pleasure. In the business world there are many different prizes that will be appreciated by the staff. Even non-financial ones. For example, everyone wants:

  • To be respected person
  • To have a better reputation
  • Have privileges in independent decision-making.
  • Allow flexible working hours
  • Thank you awards

Let's give a some words for each of these non-financial rewards.

Employee Reputation

Better reputation

Reputation is an opinion, evaluation and social identity defined by other people towards a person. Everyone wants to have a better reputation in his work environment. Employee with better reputation are usually more productive and creative. You as a manager or entrepreneur can be very influential person in achieving these goals of the individual - employee. Help them build a better reputation.

Respected person

If someone is emotionally hurt or discriminated by average employees, will expect to be respected by peers. We know that managers are respected figures, but we want to build a real respect without managerial positions.

Interestingly, in such a situation when one is affected from the rest (majority), may appear jealousy by the majority to individuals. But of course, you are here as an entrepreneur and/or manager who can help in building good relationships.

Some examples of how you can help can be the following:

  • Share some good words to them before their peers.
  • Praise their work to hear other colleagues. A "well done" can mean a lot.
  • Give them the most important tasks of the project.
  • Celebrate with them for the well-done job.

What kind of rewards you prefer for your well-done job?

See results

Independent decision-making

Managers are people who make decisions. However, if you do not want to promote your best employees into managers, you can to expand their area of decision-making. This means that they can decide on some projects without you.

On this way, you can make the feel working with the company, not for it. This is a high-valued idea you can implement the next day and see the results shortly after.

Lee Iacocca about employee rewarding

Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can't miss.

Allow flexible working hours

Flexible working is maybe one of the best benefit employees may have. Successful companies often try to create environments in which staff are empowered to take ownership of their work, and trusting them to direct their own time management and be innovative on their own time is part of that. This is somehow in conjunction with independent decision-making.

Flexible working hours
Flexible working hours


In order to keep good employees and satisfy them without promoting, you need to think strategically and allow benefits, rewards and recognition for them. Every employee, not just the best ones want to take a reward for their good job.

On this way you will make sure you keep the most talented and hard-working staff that add value to the company and produce great business results.


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