A merit based career progression ensures that the right people are promoted. Organizations need such talents for the long term.
Poor selection procedures allow people who do not have the competence to hold highly responsible jobs. Keeping in mind the management principle of 'promotion to a position of incompetence' will help organizations avoid making this mistake. (See further below)
A merit based career progression has the following characteristics.
Success of the system depends much on the sincerity of those involved in the selection.
This type of career progression is closely connected to performance-linked pay. A flexible pay scheme goes well with this.
This pay system is better than one within a structured scheme of service where there is a high predictability of promotion prospects and pay increases.
You can further enhance the ability and capability of selected employees within a system of structured training and development.
Implementing a policy on continuous training goes a long way in updating and the further development of their talents.
This type of career progression recognizes and rewards outstanding performers. These people will often undergo rapid career progression with high pay and better incentives.
However, there are organizations that fail to give due credit for good performance. If they fail to take positive action, they will lose good people to organizations that rewards performance. If these people decide to stay, they may decide to lessen their contribution to their detriment and the detriment of the organization.
The benefits of using meritocracy in promoting people are many.
Potential benefits of a merit based career progression include its motivational nature of rewarding the right behaviours, higher productivity resulting in higher profitability of the organization, and better retention of talents.
Employers who are willing to pay high salaries for good performance encourage people to stay. Fairness of pay system can attract the right talents.
The occasional failure to find the right persons for higher positions need not deter your organization from implementing a system of merit based career progression. Take your time to plan. Look for new ideas.
Career progression based on merit assumes that those involved know and understand what merits they are taking into consideration when promoting people.
It also presumes that there is a proper selection process. People involved in the process of selection need to exercise fairness. In other words, people are selected based on their strengths, skills, competence, performance, knowledge and potential, not on whom they know.
The system does not work if there is favoritism, shallowness in the choices made or disregard for the objectives of the system.
An "apple polisher" has no place in the system.
The Peter Principle
You need not fill a higher position that has fallen vacant in the meantime if there is no suitable candidate. This is much better than to promote any employee who does not fulfill the criteria.
Keep in mind the Peter Principle that states "people will tend to be promoted until they reach their position of incompetence."
Many organizations scout for people - headhunt - for talents from outside the organization. This is usually done for senior positions with fixed-term appointment. But organizations may only do this if there are no suitable candidates from among serving employees. Outside people must not fill every vacant position.
This frustrates serving people who are more than capable to take charge of senior positions.