When your hard work finally pays off and you land the big promotion you have a choice to make. You can:
Immediately puff up with self-importance and destroy every bit of respect your former peers have for you.
Tread lightly and keep working hard to earn the respect of your former peers in your new role.
It all depends on upon you.
I’ve watched a lot of newly promoted people as they make their way in their new role, and sadly, too many of them are caught up in the first form of behavior. When I was promoted to manage my peers, I was blessed to have a mentoring boss who gave me invaluable advice my first day on the job. Some lessons I learned the hard way, by screwing up. Here it what I know:
- Don’t play Devils advocate at every turn. It doesn’t make you appear objective, it makes you appear aimless and contrarian. You are part of a new team, and your job is to problem solve and make your company better by bringing creativity and compassion, not relentless criticism.
- You can, and should, be quiet often. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to prove yourself by being the loudest voice. You already did that – it’s why you were promoted. You are not the star. The people you manage are. Shine the light on them and it will reflect back on your tenfold.
- Don’t make big changes too quickly. Too many new managers think that they must make an immediate impact and put their stamp on their new role. This often manifests itself in unnecessary changes to processes that work. Even if the person you are replacing was let go doesn’t mean everything they did was wrong. That old manager probably knew something you do not. Listen, learn, and think. You can avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
- Respect your old peers. Respect your new peers. Don’t lose touch with the people you worked alongside who have their finger on the pulse of your business. Get your hands dirty. Ask for advice from the old timers who have the experience you do not.
- Treat your reports as individuals. Business is about relationships, and you cannot inspire the people you manage unless you really know them and what motivates them. Take the time to get to know them, individually, and ask them what they want from their work. And listen.
In your new role, you’ve been handed a true gift. You may not realize it immediately, but being put in a position of being able to manage other people is a blessing of critical importance. You have the ability to make the work lives of those you manage incredible, inspiring, and happy. The way you behave in the early days of your promotion will lay the groundwork for years to come. Do it right. Be humble, and most of all, be kind.
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