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

2014 August 26
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 2
Part 3

Part 4

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 hold pointless meetings. A tendency often exists to get the team together because it somehow feels right. It actually may be right, but not if the reason is for a pointless meeting. What is a pointless meeting? We’ve all been in them. There’s either no clear purpose, or no cohesion to the assembled group, or the group has no authority or resources to accomplish the meeting’s intended outcome. If you want to get the group together other than for the typical assemblage for work, have a lunch or a social event periodically. Don’t schedule a meeting just so you can have a meeting. They should always have a purpose other than simply to meet, especially if they’re recurrent. And end them with a review of the next actions for everyone to take so there’s a clear exit strategy with achievable accomplishments.
  • If the purpose of the meeting is solely to communicate information to the group, then fine. Sometimes it’s necessary. But make sure people have that expectation going in, especially if they’re accustomed to more collaborative meetings or participative decision-making. It isn’t always possible or appropriate, so setting clear expectations can make such meetings feel much less dictatorial.
  • Don’t catastrophize. Bad things happen. Sometimes a lot. And sometimes with disastrous consequences…explosions, fires, sinking ships, bad lots of pharmaceuticals, contaminated food distribution, for example. These typify catastrophes. However, any given bad day at the office does not usually equate to a catastrophe. Sometimes, less extreme events can potentially be limited-scope catastrophes, such as loss of a major client, the departure of a beloved and very competent senior leader, or the realization that the best laid plans for extensive positive changes to client services have fallen victim to budget constraints. Limited-scope catastrophes can be mitigated into manageable bumps in the road with effective strategic planning, through alternative planning, and good stakeholder engagement. Often, a strategic level of panic from managers and executives helps lay a foundation to drive results, but don’t catastrophize non-catastrophic events or you will lose credibility.

  • Don’t embroil your manager(s) in personality conflicts. No executive wants to spend their time resolving turf wars, personality clashes, or incompatible managerial styles. Deal with it. Bury the hatchet. Take the high road and approach the other party outside a moment of conflict to try to bridge the gap. And recognize that some people are simply too full of themselves to be helped by just one person.

  • Don’t allow an anger management issue to get the better of you.  A very, very smart Admiral was known to say “Never lose your temper. Every couple of years, pick a target and fire for effect.” The point is don’t let anger rule you or your decisions. It’s okay to get angry; it’s unhealthy to repress anger. But maintain control of your anger. And if you find your workplaces makes you angry so often that you can’t remember not being angry for more than a few hours, consider what your priority is.
  • Don’t work dangerously high amounts of overtime except were a critical project requires it.  Working too much overtime is fraught with dangers. It can kill you because of stress. It can damage or destroy relationships through neglect. It can lead your senior managers to believe you can’t get work done within normal hours. It can raise questions about why you’re working so late if you’re working really late. And working excessive overtime is guaranteed to deplete your energy and compromise your immune system, making you increasingly less effective.
  • Don’t take overly long lunches.  It just looks bad. Every workplace has different expectations and a different culture. Be sure you understand the difference in the written rules and the executive expectations. Make sure you can live with any incompatibility in them. Team-building lunches and work-sponsored events almost always take longer. I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about leaving at 10:45 and returning 1:15 when you’re supposed to have an hour for lunch, or always getting back half an hour after the coworkers with whom you’ve had lunch. Or always treating a small group lunch as justification to be gone two hours. There are certainly reasons why extra time may be needed at lunch; just don’t develop a reputation for being absent.
  • Don’t spend too much time making the rounds to check in with other managers every day.  A certain amount of time for drop-ins, drive-by’s, or whatever your organization calls them is necessary. It gets you out of your office and allow your consciousness time to process information that is more efficiently organized when you’re focused on something else, and it allows you to observe changes in the workplace and personnel, as well as supporting the development and maintenance of relationships with other managers and executives. Very few people like it when the only time they see someone is when a problem needs solving. That doesn’t mean spend half an hour with each one every day. But ten or twenty minutes with one or two each day and possibly two or three additional stop-ins to just say hi will go a long way toward running into people you need to see, or who need to see you, and relationships get built. However, spending too much time doing this will result in other things not getting done by you and the people you’re interrupting, and you’ll develop a reputation for socializing at work and neglecting duties.
  • Don’t spend too little time making the rounds to check in with other managers.  You’ll end up neglecting crucial relationships and miss out on running into people you need to see. Remaining chained to your desk necessarily limits your ability to obtain and act on additional information that only comes from periodic conversations with other managers and executives outside of formal meetings.
  • Don’t waste time on the internet.  The Internet is the contemporary workplace analogue of the telephone and gunpowder. Both introduced sea changes in productivity and level of accomplishment, but both brought new dangers, management requirements, and potential for abuse. Use the Internet when you need it, and stay off of it for non-work activities when you’re supposed to be working.


Take care, and enjoy life,


Photo Credit: Flickr (Robert S. Donovan)


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