If your organization has lots of entry-level employees and a practice of promoting from within, you probably face a crowded field when trying to identify the best candidates for promotion. If that entry-level labor pool is also ethnically and racially diverse, you have to make sure your promotion process doesn’t favor one group over another.
One way to pick the best of the best: Keep a contact sheet for each employee. Use it to record disciplinary infractions such as tardiness and missed shifts, plus positive feedback such as customer praise and compliments for a job well done. When it is time to select employees to move up, the sheets will provide reliable insight on each worker’s promotion potential. This is especially important if most of the employees are performing their jobs within acceptable limits—contact sheets are a way to objectively differentiate the best workers.
They also can help prove the fairness of your promotion practices should they be challenged in court.
Recent case: Several black employees—entry-level servers and busboys—at an ESPN Zone restaurant sued when they were passed over for promotions. They alleged that race was the reason.
But ESPN Zone pulled out detailed records of day-to-day discipline and praise to easily show that the employees who were passed over had less positive feedback, fewer compliments and far more days absent and times tardy than the servers and busboys who were promoted.
The court said considering the total picture—as revealed in the contact sheets—was a legitimate way to select among qualified employees. In other words, ESPN Zone showed it acted fairly and impartially by using the information to decide who among otherwise equally qualified employees were the most deserving of a promotion. (Harrington, et al., v. Disney Regional Entertainment, No. 06-12226, 11th Cir., 2007)