The mystery of how DGs choose promotion proposals

At this time of year, many of us learn in our career development review (CDR) whether our hopes for promotion are likely to be met. While there are a relatively small number of colleagues who will be also promoted via the appeals process in the autumn, for most of us it is appearing on the DG proposal lists that is key to our promotions. (As a guide, for 2020 it was 18 June.[1])

How then do DGs choose who to nominate?

For something so important, the information available to staff is somewhat limited. It explains that directors consult with heads of unit (reporting officers), and then ‘Senior management examines the merits of all staff eligible for promotion. Your director will discuss your merits on the basis of your reports during this meeting. The meeting results in a draft list of promotions for the DG.’

As for the ‘merits’ it explains these take into account appraisal reports since the last promotion (or since recruitment), use of languages, and level of responsibilities exercised.

Therefore, in this critical meeting, it sounds like the senior managers are typically examining your 3 or 4 last years of appraisal reports before coming to a decision! We suspect this is not actually the case, although as there is no official information available on how these meetings are conducted we cannot be sure.

We have no reason to believe that these meetings are not conducted properly or that senior managers are not taking their responsibilities seriously (but is there a corresponding entry in the Sysper2 access history?), but we wonder whether a little more transparency as to exactly how these meetings are supposed to work would give staff more confidence in the process.

For instance, what guidance is given by the Directorate-General for Human Resources and Security (‘DG HR’) to the senior managers present? Is anyone else present? Presumably, the DG HR Business Correspondents, but what is their role? What data is given to attendees? We would imagine it to be lists of the DG staff, sorted by grade, and including their seniority. But what else? (We already know that the promotion system has its flaws.) In what format is the data presented? Have there ever been checks for biases, (e.g. Are you more likely to be proposed by your DG if your job is more visible to those in a position of power?).

Check out our articles on the appraisal and promotions exercises to see our explanations of the processes.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that Generation 2004, while not forming part of these senior management meetings, we are fully involved from dialogues with directors-general to participating in the joint committee appeals working groups and at an earlier stage by offering help to review draft evaluations and appeals, so are always working hard to ensure as fair a process as possible for staff.

As always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to contact us.


[1] The next steps in the 2021 reclassification and promotion exercises are:

  • mid-November: publication of final lists  (check administrative notices or email)
  • December: changes visible in pay slip.
[*] Promotion exercise 2021 launched 07.04.2021

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