Does seniority matter in the workplace? Should promotion be based on performance or seniority?

“The older you get, the more transferable skills you gain, which will help you move to another field at any age.”

While it is true that the seniority in any profession is of great value and importance for employees to provide the opportunities in terms of career development and promotion, there are people who believe that being senior is to move nearer to be a redundant employee –  sooner or later. In fact, senior employees seem to have either positive or negative or both experiences in relation to these aspects.

There seems to be no exact set or defined standard for this, as the situation may be assessed based on various factors. If someone is senior, it may or may not be necessary that he or she deserves promotion. Similarly, a senior employee may or may not be declared as redundant for his or her services to have come to end. It would thus be a curious paradox arising from this situation and making an employee think whether he or she should continue working within the same organization or strive to find a better job elsewhere.

Evidences reveal that there are always positive elements being associated with one’s longer service or employment and the rewards or benefits are accorded to greater age accordingly. But this should not be taken in isolation, because it’s one thing to do A, it’s another thing to do B. In the sense, being known as senior is one thing and being senior and experienced with a greater exposure is quite another. In the former case seniority is just the seniority with a longer tenure of employment, whereas the latter indicates that, of course, the seniority matters.

At this stage, two examples may be illustrated: supposing that an employee is working in a grocery shop, his job responsibility involves totaling the items that are bought by the customers and packing them accordingly. Similarly, there is an employee whose job responsibility includes his routine tasks being assigned as well as those in which his assistance is often required by the superiors whereby allowing him to gain more exposure to new things. Thus in both cases, employees are getting senior eventually, but the second example shows that the employee is not only getting senior, but is also getting advanced experience and exposure to new things that in course of time can enable him to undertake more advanced assignments and perform them successfully. Therefore, what matters the most is to get the experience that counts. It is worth mentioning that both, real work experience or the experience that’s gained voluntarily, it has value, as it helps a person to build his or her personal brand in the long run.

It can thus be, in the light of further evidence, construed that there is always a compelling reason to preserve the services of senior employees who have gained a high level of competence and vast exposure. It is also for this reason that promotion is based on the performance rather than seniority. And this approach does dominate in private organizations where performance is preferred to the length of service and so it must be acceptable on firm ground. So,being competent is being able to contribute greatly to the total organizational competencies.

Nonetheless, if it is to be considered in the constructive terms and based on social responsibility of a business entity, seniority need not only be evidenced by better performance, but loyalty and devotion as well, which must also deserve recognition and particular rewards,because the seniority is a significant indicator of employee faithfulness, devotion and reliability. As regards the seniority with required capability and quality experience and exposure, it is not at all a bar to promotion but it’s indeed a door to success.

Keep reminding yourself that “Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.” –  Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Written by:
K. A. Fareed (Fareed Siddiqui)
Writer, Trainer, Author, Blogger, Software Developer
BBA, MBA-Finance, MPhil-Financial Management, (PhD-Management)
MA-English, MPhil-English
Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Applications and Programming
Certificate course in English language proficiency
Level 1 – Leadership and Management ILM – UK
Pursuing CMA-USA
Individual Member of Institute of Management Consultants of India


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