Woman gets a promotion at work and shakes hands with her new boss
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It’s exciting, no doubt about it. Your expertise, hard work, and perseverance paid off. You got the big promotion you were working toward. Then, along with exuberance, reality sets in with a bit of nerves for this new challenge. Now you have to deliver.


Even though promotions are exhilarating, they can also leave recipients uneasy about the change. Going from a position where you had proven yourself into a position with some inherent uncertainty will put a knot in the most confident stomachs.

Oftentimes, the easiest kind of promotion is where you’re promoted into a new environment with a new team to work with. That is like a clean slate. Much harder can be the transition within a business unit. Not to mention, the move from peer to boss can definitely be a minefield. Like it or not, we create an identity at work and many of our co-workers identify us with our role. Change our role or give us more responsibility, and people around us sometimes have difficulty adapting. There are also occasions when the person promoted has difficulty adjusting.

Let’s take a look at some of the steps the newly promoted can take to ensure a smooth, effective transition.

Listen

Embrace the newness and recognize your stakeholders—those affected by your work and your team’s work. Even if you are working with some of the same people, there is a good chance you have new stakeholders or new relationships with stakeholders. Meet with them and listen to their feedback. From employees to suppliers to customers to your boss, they will let you know what’s going well and what needs improvement from their perspectives.

Note the emphasis on listening. You don’t need to promise the world just because you’re in a new role. You are there to gather their feedback so you can ensure expectations are met. You will learn a lot when you actively listen and these people will notice your engagement.

Plan

Man writes down his plan after getting a promotion

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Your promotion was a competitive process. Your boss saw something in you that persuaded them to give you this opportunity. There is almost always a learning curve to your new position, but during the transition, put together a plan for yourself and your role going forward. You bring a skill set, expertise, and a new perspective. These are all ways you can add value.

Determine 30-, 90-, and 180-day milestones about what you are going to learn and how you will proceed in making positive contributions. Utilize the SMART principle for goal-setting (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Bound). The promotion is not the high water mark. You have greater things in store.

Communicate

Woman talks to her coworkers during a work meeting

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Be as transparent as possible about your goals and expectations. This communication should be the case up and down the chain of command, and you have to actively invite feedback and demonstrate a willingness to listen to it.

Once you have developed your plan and milestones, meet with your supervisor to discuss them. If you have not worked closely with this person before, it may be helpful to meet regularly, at least while you get your feet wet. Get to know his or her expectations and communication preferences. See to it that you’re both on the same page strategically and tactically.

The same holds true if you have any employees reporting to you. They should be aware of the direction you want them going in, and they should know how you prefer to communicate. Share your goals and plans. Research has shown that we are more successful at working toward goals and implementing new habits when we communicate them to others. We allow people to hold us accountable. In a team environment, there is no other way to move the needle.

Finally, you may be asking, “Why so much emphasis on communication preferences?” Relationships at work function much better when the individuals involved have clear understandings. This becomes even more important in workplaces with flexible schedules and working arrangements, different communication media available, and where teams are distributed and function in a virtual environment. Sending an urgent email to your boss when she only checks email once a day can be useless.

Taking the time to understand these important details can ultimately pave the way for cohesiveness and long-term success after your promotion. Good luck!

We know how tricky it can be to navigate a promotion at work. If you're struggling to adjust to your new role, we can help.

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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