You give a series of sterling evaluations to one of your employees and she suddenly asks, “If I’m so good, why is it that I’m never considered for promotion?”
Do you respond:
—Performance appraisals are the foundation of the company’s promotion policy, and she’s given consideration every time an opening occurs.
—She lacks tact in dealing with other employees and you don’t think she would make a good supervisor.
—You’re saving her for that special promotion that will best utilize her skills.
The second option is an admission that you’ve just given an employee a misleading performance appraisal. You can’t rank her as “outstanding,” then turn around and explain that she has a shortcoming that’s keeping her from being promoted. Don’t use the third option unless you really mean it. The only safe answer is the first. But you better be able to back up this statement with hard facts. Why hasn’t she been promoted? If it’s because of a lack of openings, explain it. If there’s something in her performance or experience that’s holding her back, tell her about it. Be honest with her.