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How to approach a job promotion wisely

CareerBuilder | December 16, 2021

How to approach a job promotion wisely

Congrats on your promotion! Use these four tips to start your new position the right way.

Getting promoted is a wonderful thing. You've proven yourself in your current position, and now you're ready to take the next step. Your hard work has paid off and propelled you toward your ultimate career goals. You'll take on new responsibilities and, most likely, a pay increase to boot. It's a great opportunity, and one you should celebrate.

But with the euphoria of a promotion comes the dread of the unknown. You start to wonder: “How many people will I be responsible for? Am I really qualified to do this? Do I need to come in firing on all cylinders?”

If you're a little uncertain about your new role, don't worry. If you take a thorough approach, you'll feel right at home in no time. Here are four ways to walk into your new promotion ready to make a difference.

Four tips for approaching a job promotion the right way

Set your expectations first

One of the best ways to set realistic goals is to gather information about your company's current situation in the market. Read an article about your industry, and keep up with your competitors. Ask your executives what they hope to see you accomplish in this new position. What aspect of the business do they want you to focus on? Are there specific things they'd like your team to dig into?

Based on the feedback you get from the higher-ups, engage in a little self-analysis. What are your own big-picture goals? What obstacles does the company face, and how can you start to address them? What will it take for your team to make an impact? Sketch out your ideas so that you can discuss them with your team later.

Set clear requirements for work performance, but keep an open mind. You may find that your team is at capacity, or that they need guidance to fit into your new way of doing things. There's a fine line between setting clear expectations and coming across as obstinate, or too inclined toward micromanagement. You'll need to incorporate your team's feedback into your expectations.

Finally, think about why you received that promotion. Was it because you had a great idea for a product? Did you come up with a new sales approach to close deals faster? Maybe you took the lead on a few successful projects, and now executives at your company want you to have more of a presence. Make a list of the skills that got you this new role. How can these abilities make an impact on your team? How can your own hard work set an example for others?

Whatever you want to accomplish, you need to outline your goals. Show your team that you are responsible by coming in open, but prepared.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Now you need to step down out of the clouds and into the everyday reality of work. You think you’re nervous about leading a group of people? Imagine the uncertainty those employees feel about you. Are you a good manager? What new responsibilities will you expect of them? Will your leadership style complement their work styles?

Squash their uncertainty and establish communication on day one. Have a team meeting to break down your goals and those of your employees. Schedule one-on-one conversations with each member of the team to determine how they’re adjusting to any changes you’ve instituted. Ask them what's going well, what's not coming together quite right, and what you could do to support them. Are there training opportunities they should pursue? Do they have all the resources they need? If performance is lagging in a certain area, find out why without trying to place blame. Ask the team how you could help fix it. Demonstrate your collaborative spirit while exploring specific solutions.

Take the team's ideas, concerns, and suggestions seriously. A productive team is a team that feels valued. Your employees are your greatest resource, so treat them like it. Their success is your success; their failure is your failure.

Consider management training

There’s a good reason management training isn’t a one-day affair. A leadership position comes with a lot of challenges. There are new skills to learn, new responsibilities to bear, and so many important things to remember. What's the right way to conduct salary review conversations? How do you address poor work performance? How do you get out from under the shadow of the former boss?

You have to learn not just how to steer the ship, but how to steer it better than the person who came before you. You need time and the right training to prepare. Read up on management skills. If your company offers any optional management training, sign up. And ask your colleagues for their advice on taking up your promotion.

Work-life balance is key

Promotions toss a lot more work your way, and if you don't protect your free time, you could burn out.

You have to manage expectations and how your employees feel about you as their boss. That might mean you stay later at work. Or you bring some of it home with you. You work a Saturday here and there to plan out next week, instead of what you should really be doing: clearing your mind and focusing on your personal time.

While the go-getter attitude is great, it’s not always the smartest move to labor away your weekend. It can hurt your work performance and your personal life, as well as making your employees feel obligated to give more time to their jobs than they should.

Maintaining a good work-life balance is key to performing your duties in the long run. Of course you want to work hard, but you should also want to work smart. Don't burn up all of your energy at the start of the marathon.

Like any relationship, your relationship to your job needs boundaries. Your time away from the office is so valuable. When you're at work, work. When you're not at work, try to leave it behind. You can get to it during business hours.

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