July 15, 2019
Succession Planning 26 January 2017
The Art of Promotion - Lessons from Netflix’s “The Crown”
Gisel Malek
pathways, recruiting

It is not always a black and white decision when it comes to choosing who you want to promote for a certain position. Often times, that decision comes pretty heavily as the question of “who deserves it most” comes up and you have to choose between equally qualified people. This is a struggle that everyone experiences; small businesses, enterprises, even the monarchs! 

I started watching the hit TV show “The Crown,” winner of 2 Golden Globes including Best Drama TV Series and was immediately hooked. It’s a biographical drama of the current queen, Queen Elizabeth II. I have always been a fan of British television - I don’t know, maybe it’s because of the dialogue that’s scripted. It’s always so elegant and engaging. I binge-watched the first and only available season in 2 days (like any millennial would), and learned a very interesting lesson about job promotions in the process. 

There is a profound scene halfway through the season that made me realize that promoting someone should be more order-based than decision-based

The position in question: Private Secretary to the Sovereign 

The young Queen had two individuals suited for the role but wanted to go with the younger one, merely because she felt that she could relate to him better. However, she was strongly advised (basically forced) to “promote” the older man. Like following a set of directions, there was an order. I was taken back by the structure and at the same time comforted by it.

The Queen went back and forth on the topic but eventually agreed that it would be the wisest choice to make. It was bitter-sweet, but ultimately, order won.

The decision the Queen made is very similar to the predicament that most senior level managers have when trying to fill positions. Managers want to hire people that would be qualified but resort to hiring from the outside in some cases because their own employees are not suited for those roles. 

Wouldn’t it be great if they, too, had a set of directions for who would take the next role? Job postings and sifting through pointless resumes and attending career events would no longer be relevant. 


While we’re far from an organized system, we can get there through career pathways. Career pathways are designed to help you educate and train your employees to move up and follow a path of growth that is in line with both your needs and theirs. 

Studies show that the biggest reason why employees leave companies is because they don’t see a clear opportunity for growth. More recently, studies are taking a look at how timing is critical. According to CEB, a Washington-based best-practice insight and technology company takes at when employees decide to quit and not just the reasons why. Brian Kropp, who heads CEB’s HR practice says,

“We’ve learned that what really affects people is their sense of how they’re doing compared with other people in their peer group, or with where they thought they would be at a certain point in life. We’ve learned to focus on moments that allow people to make these comparisons.”

The study conducted by CEB proves just how important it is to set in place a plan employees and candidates applying for jobs at your company can use to plan their careers. 

Hire For Tomorrow

Many companies fail to think about the long run in their hiring process. They have an immediate need or problem, and their solution is to find someone that will serve their purpose for that need solely. Instead of hiring someone to manage your social media channels, hire someone who will run campaigns, have creative freedom and develop the social media marketing strategies for your company. This requires looking for the people that have the right set of skills that will translate into those roles. 

Here are 5 simple signs to look for when thinking about promoting someone:

1. Offer creative solutions

2. Culture champions

3. Excellent communication skills

4. Shows Initiative

5. They are already doing the role

All of these traits can be determined pre-hire and not just when you are ready to promote.

By evaluating your candidates from the very beginning you can determine if they embody these characteristics through projects and challenges. Watch and observe how your potential candidates solve problems, work with others, communicate, and understand not just the role they are applying for but the path they are headed with your company. 

Knowledge Is Power

The biggest reason most companies even think to hire from the outside is because they don’t have the right people to step into the roles they want to fill. It can get very costly to hire people from the outside not knowing if they will fit with your company culture and learn everything they need to know to get to the point of being comfortable with “how things work.” 

Your entry level or even junior level employees have this advantage already, working at your company. Setting in place the proper training to help promote them instead will be far more beneficial to your business. 

If you have a position open for an SEO guru, and only a team of digital marketers that don’t know as much SEO as they should, try using a curriculum that is designed by industry professionals to teach the important things they need to learn. You will accomplish the following doing so:

1. Give employees new skills which will make them loyal

2. Save onboarding cost of hiring someone new

3. Due away with outside training styles that can conflict with yours

Onboarding new candidates should have a clear order to it and the vision of that role for you and the candidate will help determine the success of your company. When candidates see that they are learning, growing and advancing, they will be more inclined to stay loyal.

Order without liberty and liberty without order are equally destructive - Theodore Roosevelt

While the Queen felt she had no choice, she did ultimately make the decision that made the most logical sense and would make her life a lot easier. 

Make your life easier and put your company on a pathway toward success.