All of us work for one of, or all of, these three things: Salary, recognition, or the joy of what we do. If you are one of those mythical unicorns who thoroughly enjoys what they do, I am very happy for you, also a bit jealous, but still happy. For the rest of us, we work because we have too and you know what, we want some recognition. This could be a bonus, a pat on the back, employee awards, or the often coveted and always on the horizon Promotion. As someone who has risen through the ranks within a few companies, I hope you will take my following advice to heart and allow me to offer my thoughts on what to do next once you are granted that key to the promised land of promotion.
Whatever you do, do not let it go to your head. You may have interviewed and even competed against others in your department or team for the promotion you just received. Do not come in on day one with your chest puffed out and start looking down your nose at your former peers. These are the people you sat next to, the people you shard lunch with, the people that will ultimately be the cogs that turn your productive wheel which you hope to ride to further promotions and growth. Be good to them, remember them as friends and stay on friendly terms because you do need them, and now they need you. There is nothing worse than seeing a department fall apart because of in-fighting and resentment from an internal promotion.
Don’t be too friendly with your new subordinates. I know what you’re thinking, “he just told me to be nice to them”, I didn’t say be their best buddy. There is a fine line one must learn to walk when managing a group of people. You need to be honest, fair, polite and friendly without becoming best of friends. Do you know why? Because you still need to manage these folks. You still need to get firm with them and push them to accomplish goals, close deals, and facilitate business so that your entire team is successful. Being too friendly not only hinders progress, but it can lead to favoritism and cause discord within a team. Even if you have the best of intentions, you will fall into a habit of giving preferential treatment to some over others, it is human nature. The goal here is to motivate and inspire without threatening or mistreating your new underlings. This is hard to do if you have been promoted within, but it is important to note that you now belong to a new set of peers. Take the time to get to know the other managers and look to them for guidance on the best way out of over friendly situations with employees who were once working beside you, but are now working under you.
You know that guy who comes in and wants to change everything and is full of fresh new ideas? Yeah, don’t be that guy. This is the toughest one for people to understand, especially if they pitched a new idea in their interview and think it is the only reason they got the position. Trust me, the people you are now managing do not want to come into work one day and have their whole process flipped upside down because the new golden boy has an idea he read in Forbes Magazine. These people know how to do their jobs, probably better than you do. Remember that and take a month or two to learnhow they work, what they do, and listen to them on ways to improve it. The best things you can do are to learn from them, then sit them down individually or all together to ask their thoughts on either your ideas from your observations or their ideas to improve. This not only makes them feel integral to a solution, but gives you the chance to hear straight from the horse’s mouth what will make their work go faster, easier, and thus more productive.
Lastly, keep the work ethic that got you the promotion in the first place. Sometimes, some people only have the promotion in their mind. They never think about what actually getting the promotion will entail and tend to settle down in their new corner office to feel fully satisfied. NO! Do not forget how you got the opportunity and do not forget that you need to prove your worth. Go ahead, celebrate and revel in your new position (on the weekend preferably) but remember you now have new responsibilities and you now have new opportunities to shine and more rungs on the ladder of success to climb. No one wants to be stuck in middle management, shoot for the top. Learn as much as you can on the way, and always give your very best, just as you have in the past. You may be working more hours, you may be getting more grey hairs, but you asked for this. So roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Some of this may be new. Some of you may find this common knowledge. But the fact that I have seen newly promoted managers crash and burn, or lose the loyalty of their new subordinates, leads me to believe that many do not know about what happens after their promotion. Remember, if you were promoted to manage others, your success is just as dependent on them as their success is dependent upon you.
-Sharom Al Ansari