Methods of Promotion, Seniority vs Meritocracy

06/04/2021 0 By indiafreenotes

Methods of Promotion

Vertical Promotion:

When an employee is shifted from a lower category to higher category with increase in pay, status and responsibility it is called vertical promotion. For example a sales Manager is promoted as General Manager in the company.

Horizontal Promotion:

When an employee is shifted in the same category with increase in pay, responsibilities and change in designation, it is called horizontal promotion. For example Second Division Assistant is promoted as First Division Assistant. This type of promotion may take place within the same department or from one department to another or from one plant to another plant.

Dry Promotion:

When promotion is made without increase in salary or remuneration, it is called “dry promotion”. For example, a college professor promoted as Head of the Department without increase in salary. In dry promotion there will be a change in designation and responsibility without corresponding change in remuneration.

Seniority vs Meritocracy

Promotion by Seniority:

Promotion by seniority is one of the popular methods followed for giving promotion to the employee. Seniority is based on the total length of service and is counted from the date of his appointment in the organisation. This method is followed in Government service. However, merits such as qualifications, knowledge, skills, performance, etc., are not given weightage as promotion is based on seniority.

Advantages of Promotion by Seniority:

  • In business and industrial undertakings, this method is followed for patronising employees and has wide acceptance by trade unions and among employees.
  • It is very simple and objective method of identifying employees for promotion.
  • Creates a sense of security among employees since they can predict in advance when they will get promoted.
  • Leads to congenial industrial relations as decisions on promotions are based on seniority alone.
  • Avoids bias, favouritism and nepotism in identifying employees for promotion.
  • Employees will remain loyal to the organisation even when there are better opportunities elsewhere.


  • Seniority very often ignores merit and good performance in the job. The person with long service need not be competent in the job.
  • Overemphasis on seniority and no incentive for high/improved performance the job.
  • Ambitious people who are highly career oriented, may not stick to the job and leave the organisation.
  • It is difficult to attract talented people unless they are placed in special category for promotion.
  • No differentiation between efficient and inefficient employees and promotes mediocrity in the organisation.
  • Management is not generally favourable to promote employees based on seniority. They prefer to combine merits and seniority.

Promotion by Merit:

Promotion by merit is generally followed in private organisations. Promotions are based on merits of the employees, i.e., qualifications, knowledge, skills, honesty, initiative, interpersonal relationship, effective communication and of course performance in the job. Seniority is not given weightage. However, unions demand promotions based on seniority, i.e., length of service of the employee.

The HR department has to keep updated records about each employee and such records should include details, performance in the job, increments, performance awards etc. Performance appraisal records would also provide information on the past performance and strengths and weaknesses of the employee.

Advantages of Promotion by Merit:

  • It appreciates and recognises the knowledge, skills and performance of the employee. Even employees with less experience can expect promotions.
  • It motivates the employees to perform better as promotions are based on merits.
  • The management is able to retain competent employees as they are eligible for promotions based on merits.
  • Leads to increased productivity in the organisation.
  • Management support promotions based on merit.
  • It is a scientific and objective method of promoting employees.

Limitations of Promotion by Merit:

  • Scope for favouritism and bias.
  • The method is not accepted by trade unions.
  • Defining merit is difficult and complicated in the absence of updated and accurate records.
  • No guaranteed promotion even if the person has put in several years’ service in the organisation.