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50 Ways To Avoid Screwing Up Your New Promotion (series)

2014 May 5
tags: Development, Effectiveness, Leadership, Promotion, Reputation, Self-Care, Valuing Others
by Andrew   

Note: This will be a series of five posts, each with ten points essential to making and maintaining a good impression in a new promotion.

Part 1

Part 3

Part 4

Part 2

So, you’ve been promoted. Congratulations! The hard part isn’t over. Sure, you prepared for, competed for, perhaps longed or fought for the promotion, and you got it. But there are plenty of ways to fail to keep it, and many of them can have your executives questioning their decision if you aren’t careful.

The fifty tips in this series, ten a week, are intended to help you set a sustainable pace in your new role and avoid some all-too-common problems that can befall people.

The list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but it hopefully will build a framework for you to fill in with your own additional notes as you read.


  • Don’t advertise your signing bonus or salary. Anywhere. It really is no one’s business how much money you make. In many organization’s, revealing that information will violate the terms of your employment. In nearly all organizations, revealing that information will alienate someone you’d rather not offend. And, bragging about your salary is just plain obnoxious. Really.
  • Don’t assume you know everything you need to know about your new job. You don’t. if you believe you do, you’re the wrong person for the job, because the person who believes they have nothing to learn will never learn from their experiences or the wisdom of others. Seek out mentors, subject matter experts, process and department heads, and trustworthy sounding boards in your new organization. You’ll need them and you’ll demonstrate quickly that not only were you the right choice for the job, you’re self-confident enough to reach out to others to build relationships.
  • Don’t hire to ensure you’re the smartest person on the team. If you manage to actually fill your team so that you’re the smartest person on it, you’ll end up ensuring that the only challenges that can be met are those you’re capable of meeting yourself. That’s no way to build a team, and it will never satisfy the crisis of confidence it’s designed to prevent. People who do this fear they will become marginalized by their team’s success, or that they will become replaceable. I’ll share a not-so-little secret with you: No one is irreplaceable. Perhaps some people should be, but such a state of affairs typically is transient until a particular need has passed. It’s far better to develop a team to function without you so that all you’re providing is leadership, perspective, and advocacy; otherwise, you ensure you are not promotable because the organization will not want to incur the failure of a team that absolutely requires you in order to function.
  • Don’t underestimate the number, complexity, or sensitivity of problems you will face. Doing so will guarantee you will lack the resources, strategy, and resilience to meet the new challenges without falling behind and having to play catch-up far too many times.
  • Don’t try to change/fix/improve everything at once. It can’t be done, and it exhausts the team. It also makes you look as though you can’t prioritize or establish strategies to confront challenges. Resources also are rarely sufficient to meet all of these challenges simultaneously, and more than one significant organizational issue is usually impacting others, so addressing them in a particular order will often pay dividends in the long run that will make issues easier to remedy.
  • Don’t give your new team the impression you’re there to make them better. Behaving in such a manner is one of the fastest ways to ensure you lose their respect and support, and you will alienate all of them. Everyone should expect a new leader of an organization to have ideas and solutions in mind, and those should include identifying areas where the team members can benefit from development. But the best strategy for assuming the leadership mantle of an organization is to ensure you understand and support the strengths of the team members, and work with them collaboratively to develop areas that need bolstering. Set the right leadership tone, establish vision, and communicate clearly, and the team will usually identify on its own the areas where challenges need to be met.
  • Don’t complain about the team you just left. Or the one before that. It’s just bad manners and will give your new team the impression you’ll do the same about them when you move on. That’s a sure way to lose the confidence of the people from whom you need it the most.
  • Don’t create impressions of favoritism on your new team. Just don’t.
  • Don’t assume “the way it’s always been done” is wrong. New members of organizations, particularly when there’s been a significant recruitment effort or multiple hires, often believe – frequently because they’ve been told – “we need new blood.” What does that even mean? We aren’t blending bloodlines to create faster, better humans. And we aren’t vampires, so we aren’t looking for tasty new food. What people usually mean with such a statement is 1) We don’t know how to develop the people we have, 2) the people we have are too set in their ways to help us move forward, or 3) only people with external perspective or experience can help us achieve our goals. Usually, more than one of those opinions is operative in such environments. And they often are just that: opinions. Because many organizations don’t bother to conduct effective research to determine what is causing the problems that led to those opinions. That isn’t to suggest that external hires don’t bring fresh new perspectives and often innovative solutions to challenges. They most certainly do, and they also help ensure an organization’s culture doesn’t stagnate, because they will either adopt it and reinforce it, the organization will take additional measure to ensure they do, or the organization will revise its culture over time. The point is make sure you understand why things are done they way they always have been before you try to change them.
  • Don’t assume “the way it’s always been done” is correct. This assumption is just as false as the one cautioned against above. Understand why things are done they way they are. Ask questions. Attend executive meetings and briefings when you have time, even if they aren’t something that interests you immediately or in which you’re presenting, because you can often learn much about how an organization operates and the underlying assumptions for meta-decisions by observing such meetings.


Take care, and enjoy life,


Photo Credit: Flickr (Robert S. Donovan)


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