That Promotion Looks Ugly on You: How Some Employees Change Behaviours When Promoted

Written by John Curtis on . Posted in

Employees change behaviours when promoted: employers want and need them to. Many become more responsible, accept bigger challenges, take new staff under their wing, and lead with integrity. Others, however, abuse their power. The supervisor in this situation became virtually impossible to work for, and the entire organization felt the effects.

The Challenge

This individual has risen through the ranks, and once he’s promoted to the position of supervisor, he becomes a tyrant. His behaviour causes several nasty dynamics to emerge:

  • The workplace is divided. Some employees react with extreme loyalty toward the supervisor; others fight back.
  • Most people try to keep their heads down while complaining bitterly behind the scenes.
  • The Union becomes involved and is in a difficult position: the environment created by the supervisor pits union members against each other.

The bottom-line: it’s ugly!


The organization brings a mediator in to assess the situation. What is important to the employees? What is important to the supervisor? Is it possible to bring everyone together for a group facilitation?

The mediator decides to hold the facilitation. During the process, all parties gain a better understanding of the situation. Together, they work out various ways to communicate about the problematic issues that regularly disrupt the workplace. They hope that it will reverse the terrible acrimony that has become business-as-usual.


The solutions do not work. The supervisor is unable to abide by the agreements. In fact, he is unable to control himself. The organization terminates him four months later, and he sues for wrongful dismissal. He claims that he was terminated because he suffers from a mental illness.

The employer is able to show that they more than adequately met their duty to accommodate, in part because of the work done by the facilitator. They settle the case quickly at very little cost.

If employees change behaviours when promoted and use their position to tyrannize the workplace, mediation is a sound step. The best-case scenario is that it resolves the issue and gives the leader a chance to amend his actions. And, if that’s not possible, it can help the organization protect itself and its employees from further harm.

John Curtis

John Curtis is a successful lawyer with over 15 years’ experience in litigation focusing on Sport Law and Mediation Services. In addition, he is an expert in providing engaging, hands-on Conflict Resolution Training including Mediation Training, Negotiation Skills Training and Conflict Coach Training