Can you force an employee to take a promotion?

Maintenance Foreman Fred Messner stuck out his hand. "Congratulations, Bill. I'm promoting you to group leader." Bill Hasting returned the handshake, but to Messner's surprise, the promotion didn't excite him.
By Raymond Dreyfack September 1, 1998

Maintenance Foreman Fred Messner stuck out his hand. “Congratulations, Bill. I’m promoting you to group leader.”

Bill Hasting returned the handshake, but to Messner’s surprise, the promotion didn’t excite him.

“What’s the problem?”

“I don’t know, Fred. Let me think about it.”

Hasting told Messner the next day he had decided to turn down the offer.

“Are you nuts? The group leader job means more money and is a step toward management. Isn’t getting ahead important to you?”

Hasting shrugged. “Yeah, but I like the job I have now. With overtime, I’m doing okay. As a group leader, I’d have to supervise my buddies. I just don’t think that I would be comfortable doing that.”

Messner shook his head. “Hey, wake up to the real world. Most guys would be thrilled to get a promotion like this.”

“I guess I’m not most guys.”

“Okay, Bill, I’ll get back to you.” Messner walked off, still shaking his head.

The refusal put him in a spot. No one was better qualified than Hasting to fill the group leader’s job. He had both the experience and seniority. There had to be some way to make him take the job. In the long run the guy would thank him for it. Messner decided to get his boss’ help in twisting Hasting’s arm if necessary.

Question : If you were Messner’s boss, what strategy would you suggest?

Winger’s decision: Plant Engineer Walt Winger frowned at Messner’s insistence that Hasting accept the promotion. “Since you can’t come up with someone equally, or nearly qualified, you might be able to force the issue on a technicality. But even if you could I don’t think it would be a good idea. Group leader is a key job. I wouldn’t like to see someone in there against his will. I’d be concerned about the quality of his work in such circumstances, his attitude, and performance as a team player. I’d rather place an ad to fill the spot if you have to and let Hasting stay where he is.”

Want this article on your website? Click here to sign up for a free account in ContentStream® and make that happen.