How do I promote my star performer without hurting my whole team’s morale?

I’ve got a team of five, all of who are on basically the same level. They work well, but I want to give one star a leadership position. How do I promote one member of my team without ruining the morale of the other members?Make it about the star performer and about what they have specifically contributed. This could include skills, achievements and behaviours. By celebrating and rewarding them for their achievements, you are showing that there is career progression within your company that is acknowledged and rewarded. Don’t discount the promotion, teams want to see standards being set, rewarded and achieved. This promotion is about the star performer’s achievements, not about ‘others’ lack of achievement.


By focusing on your star performer and their achievements you are demonstrating to others within the team how to achieve the same success, which may give them something to strive towards.

You may wish to sit down with all of your team individually, including your star performer, and ask them how they want to continue to progress within your company. In the case of your star performer you can support him / her to set new goals to strive towards. This gives everyone the opportunity to talk about their aspirations and goals. If they are not able to articulate where they see their future, you will have the opportunity to find out what they need and how to best support them.

I have outlined some steps below as a guide:

Step 1

Check in with the team’s background noise level. Do you know what is going on, are they communicating factually and honestly with you? Are you communicating honestly and factually with them? Think about how many times you have had a conversation about their performance and development needs.

If you are having these discussions regularly, you have a base from which to single out and reward people for extraordinary contributions and achievement.

Step 2

With the foundation of step one in place, go ahead and tell the team that you are recognising this person for their achievements and promoting them.

If you haven’t got this foundation in place, choose your words carefully, as other team members may feel that there is favouritism and that they haven’t had the same opportunity. Take time to create a foundation for the future.

Step 3

A few days after the announcement, check in with individual team members and ask them what they thought about the promotion and what it’s meant for them. Some may have a ‘glass half full’ approach and are able to see what they need to do to gain similar recognition. Others may have the ‘glass half empty’ view and say that they are not getting recognised for their efforts. Have a conversation with them and address this immediately.


Pollyanna Lenkic is the founder of Perspectives Coaching, an Australian based coaching and training company. She is an experienced facilitator, certified coach and a certified practitioner of NLP. In 1990 she co-founded a specialist IT recruitment consultancy in London, which grew to employ 18 people and turnover £11 million ($27 million). This blog is about the mistakes she made and the lessons she learned building a business the first time round and how to do it better second time round. For more information go to

For more Teams advice, click here. 


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments