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Ten behavioral traits to assess while evaluating for promotions

Learning and Development | 6 Min Read

Ten behavioral traits to assess while evaluating for promotions


Internal promotions are one of the easiest ways to boost employee morale and improve retention. The right promotion helps managers save time and money and is crucial for building and strengthening team spirit. However, it is often difficult to identify the right promotion plan for various employee categories as it cannot be a one-size-fits-all exercise.

Top 10 behavioral traits to consider for promotions

Here are ten job competencies and skills to consider or measure while selecting candidates for promotion.



1. Passion for work

Passionate employees tend to be more engaged compared to others. The trait makes a difference in the quality of work and commitment to the organization. Furthermore, the difference is also visible in employees’ long-term job performance. A dispassionate employee may display signs of decreased productivity and motivation. Passionate employees can be identified by:

  • Their long-term commitment to a specific domain
  • Their zeal to gain new knowledge or learn
  • The tendency to form sustainable relationships

2. Strong work ethic

A strong work ethic is a critical differentiator between top and average performers. Ideal employees have admirable work ethics. They are hard-working, dedicated, and determined to deliver the best results on time. Employees with reliable work ethics require less management to get the job done. In addition, their positive approach makes it easier for managers to delegate tasks.

3. Creativity

Another job competency to look out for is creativity. Modern businesses have complicated structures with multiple processes operating simultaneously. Combined with the increasing pace of digitization over the past few years, job roles today require perspective beyond theoretical knowledge and training. As a result, employees who can find creative solutions and learn on the job are in high demand.

4. Strong communication skills

Communication is one of the most desirable soft skills or job competencies in an employee. Strong communication skills allow employees to interact with clients, customers, managers and colleagues clearly, reducing misunderstanding and avoiding conflicts. Strong communication skills also mean that ideas are understood clearly, as being a good listener is critical.

Organizations can easily measure candidates’ communication skills by employing Mercer | Mettl’s SpeechX. The tool combines the best of human and artificial intelligence (AI) and provides globally recognized and actionable scores.

5. Self-motivation

Another trait to keep a tab on when measuring competencies for promotion is self-motivation. Good employees tend to be self-motivated. They understand the importance of their work and aim to do it justice. Such employees are more likely to take on additional responsibilities and show a higher level of engagement. These self-motivated employees align their personal growth and development with their organization and strive to excel.

Psychometric assessments are the easiest way to measure employee motivation. Mercer | Mettl’s Motivation Inventory (MMI) comprehensively explains what motivates employees to perform their jobs effectively. It helps assess intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Furthermore, MMI can be utilized for learning and development (L&D) and improving retention rates, which have been directly correlated with a motivated workforce.

6. Moral integrity and honesty

There are many situations in the workplace that create ethical and moral dilemmas for employees. In such cases, organizations trust honest employees to make the right decision regarding the company’s best interests. In addition, honest employees earn the trust of management by being accountable for their actions. This makes it a desirable trait to look for when shortlisting candidates for promotion.

7. Leadership skills

Leadership is another trait that is high in demand and one of the critical competencies to be measured when deciding on promotions. Leadership skills mean leading and motivating team members toward achieving a goal. It also means helping develop the potential of team members and encouraging them to collaborate.

Companies can use Mercer | Mettl’s Leadership Assessment to measure leadership skills. The fully customizable test measures candidates’ ability to assign tasks, plan individual development plans and convince others of their ideas.

The test also assesses job competencies such as:

  • Creativity
  • Innovation management
  • External awareness
  • Openness to change
  • Conflict management
  • Team building
  • Accountability
  • Decisiveness
  • Problem-solving

8. Problem-solving

When promoting an employee, the management isn’t just looking for someone who will do their bidding or pass on instructions to executives. They want people who can identify and address an issue before it becomes a problem. The employee should be able to execute effective solutions to problems they or their team members might face while trying to accomplish their tasks. The trait is also helpful in relationship-building and decision-making.

9. Eagerness to learn

When deciding to promote an employee, organizations look for candidates who are trying to make themselves better by learning and expanding their portfolio. Employees with this skill set adapt better to changing situations. Their eagerness to new learn new things also indicates dedication. This motivates others around them to grow.

10. Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the act of analyzing facts and data to understand a topic or a problem. The process involves collecting information and data, asking questions, and arriving at possible solutions. Critical thinkers are great employees as they analyze the problem by eliminating emotions and assumptions to influence their decisions. As such, they are an ideal candidate when it comes to promotions.



Internal promotion is an excellent opportunity for businesses to save money and time, improve retention rates, and boost morale. However, the key is to identify the right candidate for promotion. It can be done through a job-based competency analysis. Assessing the abovementioned competencies can help an organization select the right candidate for promotion.



Which of the traits is used almost exclusively among managerial personnel?

What are the other aspects to consider for the promotion of an employee?

Originally published April 24 2023, Updated April 24 2023

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About This Topic

Learning and development initiatives, also known as organizational development initiatives, are activities designed to develop employees in their present roles as well as for future roles. It consists of identifying training needs, conducting training initiatives and measuring the ROI.

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