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Develop objective promotion criteria, stick with them—and be sure to document them

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Hiring,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills,Management Training

You’ve just made another tough promotion decision, and 10 other urgent tasks require your attention. Before you move to the next item on your to-do list, take the time to document the promotion process.

That way, if you are later sued, you can easily show the court the factors you considered.

Courts are naturally suspicious when employers can’t seem to find hiring records, and hiring managers can’t remember exactly how they made their decision. But with your dated notes and memos, you stand a much better chance of winning a case.

Recent case: Benjamin Thomas, who is black, applied for a promotion at the CVS drug store where he worked. He was the most senior employee at the store. When he didn’t get the promotion, he sued.

In court, Thomas said he understood seniority was an important criterion. But CVS was ready with a complete list of the characteristics it considered, including many factors other than seniority.

For example, the documents showed CVS had considered prior management experience, proven communications and leadership skills and supervisor recommendations. Seniority alone was not the critical factor. The court tossed out the case. (Thomas v. CVS, No. 08-14464, 11th Cir., 2009)

Final note: Set up a uniform way to document all hiring and promotion decisions. Retain all notes taken by those who interview candidates. They could be useful in court.

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