There are no clear-cut steps up the promotion ladder in business. Some clerks may move into a classification of stenographer, then to secretary. Other clerks may move from their first position into a job as assistant to the supervisor of the clerical pool and, eventually, into the shoes of the supervisor. Still another clerk may enter quite unrelated work after an apprenticeship-selling, for instance.
Automation has opened up new promotional opportunities for clerks. Many clerks can, with training, move from keypunch operator to project director. The most able may be made programmers.
In well managed offices, all employees are rated periodically by their supervisors on such qualities as:
- The ability to learn new methods and techniques.
- Productiveness-the amount of work produced and how promptly it was completed.
- The neatness and accuracy with which work is performed.
- Industriousness-how consistently individuals apply their energies to their daily jobs.
- Initiative-the ability to carry out independently the appointed job and to offer suggestions for improvement.
- Cooperativeness and helpfulness-the ability to act as a team member.
- The knowledge the employee possesses of the job and related duties.
Most companies have a policy of promotion from within, and one of the functions of the supervisor is preparing workers for the next step upward. Many large companies offer training opportunities within the company. The first in-service courses are usually in skills; the next courses involve semi supervisory or supervisory training; and final courses are offered in the field of management itself. In cases where training inside the company seems uneconomical or impractical, arrangements sometimes are made for workers to take courses in business schools, colleges, or universities outside the company. Assistance is given in various forms -payment for books, transportation, tests, and laboratory fees; partial reimbursement for tuition at time of registration and the balance when the course is completed; full payment to the institution directly or partial payment on a sliding scale based on grade earned. In many cases, the employing company pays the full cost of these courses in order to develop employees.
A recent study on tuition-aid plans by the National Manpower Institute in Washington found that only 3 to 5 percent of white-collar workers take advantage of them, that younger workers use them more than older workers do, that women and men use them about equally, that participation increases with previous educational attainment, and that participation increases with income.
Of course, formally organized in-service courses are limited to larger companies, but smaller companies sometimes provide a wider variety of work experiences and closer association with management that compensate for the elaborate training facilities of the big corporations.