Tuesday, March 4, 2008

When You Receive a Promotion

Years ago I received a highly coveted promotion that required me to oversee a branch that I had left years before. Although I felt a bit like General Douglas MacArthur returning to the Philippines, I wondered what was expected of me in the new post. Recently I read a very insightful article by James E. Challenger of Challenger, Gray and Christmas, Inc. Mr. Challenger is President of one of the top executive search firms in the country, and an industry expert. He had some very useful advice.

When you are given a promotion, your company has certain reasons why they chose you over other employees. And when you are put in the position, it is up to you to figure out what needs to be done, and execute quickly. Some questions you should consider are:
Is there a problem to be fixed?
Am I maintaining a department or region?
Do they expect me to completely recreate the operation or start from scratch?
How will success be defined?

When you are given the promotion, people who will be reporting to you will be anxious about what changes will occur. As Mr. Challenger points out, until these people find out what is in store their performance will suffer. So it is advisable to quickly let everyone know what your expectations are. This will allow you to set course quickly, and avoid having to refute rumors that get started. Be quick and clear with your leadership plans to avoid problems.

Once you are working on making your changes, support your staff and get them working on your side. Support risk-taking. If you have staff members who are willing to try something new, even if it doesn't work--you will have staff who are willing to support you. Also give your staff a chance to get to know you through informal gatherings where they are able to ask questions and learn from you. If you nurture an environment of learning and change, your staff will help you realize your goals.

If you have been promoted up through the ranks you face a unique challenge. While your role changed, so did the dynamics of the relationships you had with your colleagues. People you used to work side by side with are now reporting to you. You have to decide if they will be your allies or your adversaries. Although you may not think so, you do not need to be liked by everyone. You want to build trust and respect, and show your employees that you value their contributions. This will give you a hard working staff.

Now the tough part. If anyone on your team can't support your transition, you may have to let them go. It's never fun, but part of the job.

And don't apologize for getting the promotion. Your hard work and talents got you there, now put your experience and commitment to work to bring you more success.

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