You’ve moved up in the world! Here’s what to do after a promotion to ensure a smooth transition into your new role?
Assess the Situation
Before you do anything else, take time to evaluate your new position. It’s more than likely you will have to take over projects that are part-way through completion, get to grips with totally new projects, and take on new or unfamiliar responsibilities.
If possible, spend time talking in confidence to your predecessor and get as much information as possible on every single aspect of the job. Get their insights on clients, team members, managers, project risks, and company politics. You will probably find that they’re more than willing to share vital information with you which they previously kept to themselves, particularly if they’re retiring and no longer have any direct connection with either the company or competitors. Even if you think you’re well aware of everything that’s going on, their point of view will almost certainly be different and perhaps surprising.
Talk to your new boss, as well, and make sure that you know exactly what’s expected following your promotion. Clarify the limits of your responsibilities and your authority, and find out what you’re expected to achieve. Most importantly, ensure that you’re aware of any changes in your goals or priorities. Previously you may have been focused simply on completing a single project on schedule; your new role may mean you need to be more focused on quarterly revenues across multiple projects, or on securing the next major contract.
Go through all the project documentation in detail and make sure you’re up to speed on everything that’s going on. If there’s too much to read, ask for summaries to be presented to you within the first day or two. As soon as possible, create a simple set of lists for yourself that spell out any immediate deadlines, tasks or priorities, and any concerns that need to be addressed right away. Focus initially on what needs to be done in the next week, so that you’re not at risk of letting anything critical slip through your fingers. Once you have that under control, you can worry about the next month, then longer term plans.
Broadcast News of Your Promotion
In some organizations, they’ll make an official announcement about your new position, internally or externally. However, don’t assume that means anyone will actually notice you’ve been promoted.
As soon as possible, update your job title on your email signature, business cards, LinkedIn, and other media.
Make sure that anyone who reports directly to you is aware of the change – and, if the team is small enough, anyone who reports to them, as well. If you all work in the same place, call a quick team meeting and introduce yourself. If that’s not convenient, send an email.
Talk to clients, suppliers and partners, too, so they know that you’re the person they need to deal with. An email may be sufficient, but if they’re important, call them or schedule a meeting so they can discuss any concerns. If they liked your predecessor, you need to reassure them that they can have confidence in you; if they didn’t get on, this is an opportunity to reassure them that things are going to change.
Establish your Authority
Right from your first day in the new role, you need to show people how you approach your role and what you’re like to work for. In part, that’s about setting expectations and telling people exactly what you want from them. If you want everything done by the book, then say so. If you prefer a more informal way of working, make that clear. Tell people whether you prefer written reports or verbal ones, whether you have an “open door” policy or whether you prefer them to make appointments, and so on.
If you want things done differently, put those systems in place as soon as possible. This establishes your authority and decisiveness. Even if you’re unsure exactly what needs to be done, tell your team that you want their input and recommendations right away so that you can start to take action.
Defining your relationship with your team is vital. That’s less about process and more about practical interaction. Depending on the image you want to project, consider taking your team out to lunch, or for drinks after work. Perhaps go round to each person’s desk for a chat, or call everyone into your office individually for a few minutes of private conversation.
If you find yourself in the position of managing people who previously worked alongside you, this can be a tricky situation. You may need to build a different professional relationship, which can affect your friendship. (For example, you may now be privy to information you can’t share, which can feel awkward and uncomfortable.) You may need to insist on a different level of formality at work. Take a little time to set any new ground rules with those people in particular, to avoid misunderstandings.
Be the Manager You Always Wanted
Your promotion is more than just a bigger paycheck and a step up the career ladder. It’s an opportunity to make the changes you always wanted to see. All those gripes you and your co-workers had about the last manager – they’ll be directed at you now.
So sit back, take a deep breath. and reflect for a few minutes about all the things you complained about. Make a series of simple resolutions, setting out what you need to do to be the manager you wish you’d had, and do your best to live up to them.
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