One of the most important things people look for in the job market is the opportunity for advancement. The world of aquatics is no different. Even for lifeguards, the opportunity to be promoted is an excellent factor in building a quality staff and retaining them. For other tips on increasing staff retention check out our other blog post on the subject.
Developing staff for promotions may sound appealing but can often times be intimidating to accomplish. Beyond that there is always so much already on the plate of the average aquatics supervisor, so having some specific strategies in place to not only help you develop staff for promotions personally, but also to get your organization and staff to contribute as well is key.
Let’s take a look at 5 different strategies for developing staff for promotions.
Cultivate a Culture of Internal Promotions
One of the most important aspects of developing staff for promotions is something that isn’t an active system or strategy per say, but instead has to do with your organization and the way your staff see themselves and everyone else in it.
Creating a culture in your organization in which your staff feels valued and that there are always ways in which they can move upwards is important not only for retaining staff but developing staff for promotions. If your staff sees your organization hiring for openings at the higher levels from external candidates and not hiring internally it can have a real effect on not only staff morale, but also the perception that they don't have the opportunity for advancement.
If you hire someone externally at your highest aquatic supervisory level and even your lifeguards, those interested in perhaps becoming head / lead lifeguards may lose interest. The effect only strengthens the higher up in your management structure the staff are. If you have an assistant manager looking to maybe one day become a full-time staff member, the hiring of external supervisors can create a barrier to that person being promoted. Regardless of if the barrier is real, or just one perceived by your staff.
By promoting internally for as many positions as possible you are letting your staff know on every level that you value the work they do and see the effort they put into their job. Most importantly, you reward that effort with advancement opportunities.
Developing this culture can be tricky, but it starts with internal promotions at every level whenever possible. Once staff are seeing that those who work hard and take more initiative are rewarded with more responsibilities and promotions, not only will the quality of work your staff produce be higher, but they will take it upon themselves to better themselves in hopes of a future promotion.
Identify and Mentor Potential Future Candidates for Promotion
There are other strategies to help develop staff for promotions that are more hands-off. Perhaps no other strategy is as effective at not only developing staff, but also in creating the culture we mentioned above than personally identifying and mentoring staff for promotions.
It can be a very involved process but it starts at the highest levels. If you are able to identify staff at each management level that you think would be capable or has shown some interest in being promoted, take the time to personally reach out to them.
It’s as simple as telling them you’ve noticed their hard work, skills, and that you want to give them more responsibility to prepare them for future positions. That alone can motivate your staff member, your staff as a whole, and can go a long way toward creating the culture that is so important to developing staff for promotions.
Identifying staff at every level for promotions may not be too time consuming, but actually mentoring them at every level can be, depending on the size of your organization.
Here is a quick list of things to do with those you’ve identified for mentoring and possible promotions:
- Check that their skills are satisfactory in every area of their current position. Inform them of any areas for improvement.
- Inform them of skills that are required in future positions.
- Give them training on those skills, or provide information or how they can acquire training for those skills.
- Follow up on providing training and seeing what they’ve learned.
- Promote them if and when they’re ready.
- Repeat all steps for the next position.
On this list each thing is important, but you don’t have to do all of them. As mentioned above, it may not be possible for you to personally identify and mentor individual members of your staff, but there are other strategies to accomplish the same goals. Even if you can take the time to mentor a few staff members, regardless of what level they’re on or looking to go to, it can have a deep and lasting impact on your staff as a whole.
Challenge Your Staff
Every organization has some sort of set of requirements for each position. Lifeguards are responsible for less than head / lead lifeguards. Head / lead lifeguards are responsible for less than Assistant Managers and so on. But at each level, your staff needs to be challenged. Whether it is by giving them extra responsibilities, or simply holding their current responsibilities to a higher standard.
By continually challenging your staff, you are instilling in them a strong sense of achievement and preparing them for promotions and the higher standards and expectations that come with new positions. Beyond that, challenging your staff goes a long ways towards the value your staff see in the work they do and will increase your staff retention. This is very important for being able to promote from within, and continually develop staff for promotions.
Develop a Promotion Path for Each Position
One of the most effective ways you can develop staff for promotions without having to do it all yourself is to develop a promotion path for all positions within your organization. It may be difficult and time consuming to create these, but there are many benefits besides developing your staff for promotions. Notably, it can help you to clarify the responsibilities of your different positions, as well as the skills and expectations required of anyone in those positions.
What is a Promotion Path?
A promotion path is a guide that is provided to staff that entails every aspect of what an employee needs to do to be promoted to that position. But what kinds of things belong in a promotion path? Lets take a look at what goes into a promotion path and use being promoted from a lifeguard to a head / lead lifeguard as an example.
- Capable in all skills / areas of current position (capable in all lifeguarding etiquette, swim lessons instructor, maintenance tasks, etc.)
- Job skills to have exposure to (assigning maintenance, checking chemical levels, writing rotations, knows policies, etc.)
- Other skills needed for promotion level (ability to lead, delegate, take charge, earn respect, handle customer service, etc.)
These are some of the most important things to include in your promotion path for each position. The most important thing to keep in mind is the purpose of the promotion path when you’re deciding what to include. The purpose is to be transparent and to make it clear what an employee needs to do, learn, and be capable of doing in order to be promoted to any given position.
Once you’ve developed your promotion paths, distributing them is the next step. You don’t want to be responsible for picking who may or may not be ready for a promotion and providing them with this path as a means to see that happen. The promotion path should be a resource that is readily available for anyone interested in it. By creating minimal barriers to the information, you will increase the number of people utilizing the information. Also, more of your staff will be motivated to pursue the skills required, even if they’re not comfortable coming to a supervisor with their interest just yet.
TIP: Once you’ve developed your promotion paths, display them in common staff areas so that they can view them whenever and do not need to ask for them from any supervisor. Another excellent resource for making sure your entire staff has access to your promotion paths would be to utilize the Custom Checklists Module of DigiQuatics
Develop a Mentoring Program
The last means to developing staff for promotions we’ll talk about goes hand-in -hand (as do all of our strategies) with having a culture of promotion from within. If you have that culture, this strategy in particular will be effective.
As we mentioned above, mentoring staff members may not be something you have the time to do with all your other responsibilities. But mentoring staff is important and necessary in any organization, regardless of whether it is for the purpose of developing staff for future promotions, or just to ensure everyone is trained properly and to build teamwork. So one of the most effective ways to accomplish all those things is to develop a mentoring program.
A mentoring program will likely be implemented in your organization already in one way or another. Developing the program is all about giving more organization and oversight on each level of staff training the subordinate staff to take over their position.
Mentor Program Benefits:
The benefits of a mentor program for staff promotions are numerous, but some of the biggest things you can get out of the program are:
- Staff at each level are constantly being trained for promotions
- Staff at each level are increasing their skills at their current levels by teaching subordinate staff.
- Higher level positions have more interest in developing staff members to improve the ease of their job.
- Create a sustainable system that increases staff retention and job satisfaction.
There are other benefits to a mentoring program, but lets look at what should be included in your mentoring program if you decide to develop one.
What Should Your Mentoring Program Include?
If you choose to implement a program at every level of your structure, or only at certain levels, these things will be important no matter what:
- A way to identify candidates for mentorship
- A way to identify quality candidates to mentor subordinates
- A system to measure progress
- A set of measurable goals
- A guide for mentors to know what to teach mentees (promotion path could be used)
These are just 5 strategies for developing staff for promotions, which are best used all together. A mentor program could certainly benefit from the existence of a promotion path for all mentoring positions and likewise each of these strategies is improved if your organization has worked to create a culture and environment of internal promotion that staff value.
Have some other strategies you utilize to develop your staff members from the ground up? We’d love to hear about it below!