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

2014 April 7
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 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 gloat. It’s bad manners. It always has been. Gloating is a sign of a lack of graciousness, a sense of superiority, and an absence of humility. Regardless of what you think, you are virtually guaranteed not to have gotten the promotion all by your awesome self, so don’t suddenly begin acting as though you did. Remember to be gracious, to reach out, and to build and maintain relationships.
  • Don’t act superior. This hearkens back to the item above, but it bears repeating. Don’t behave as though you can be successful without the help and goodwill of others. Oh, you can for a while. But you’ll quickly get a reputation as the lone wolf. If you’re very, very good at your job and your executives recognize use this, it will work for a while. But it begins to catch up and it can become very lonely to be the lone wolf when everyone else seems to have great connections. There were very likely other highly qualified candidates for your job, and cultivating their good will and support will pay huge dividends when you need sounding boards, advocates for your plans or programs, or people to help keep you grounded in reality.
  • Don’t lord it over your new staff/team/office. They won’t appreciate it, and you need them to enable you to be successful. They need you to help them set goals, establish priorities, liaison with more senior management, and probably right for resources. Treat them as trusted allies and as the people with whom you work, not as the people who solely work for you. The difference this will make in your thinking is astounding.
  • Don’t alienate associates and former peers. They were likely integral to your success previously, even if only by being a diverse group of people you could go to for advice or guidance, but many were also probably immediate coworkers and they likely possess knowledge and contacts essential to your continued success. Don’t use them as assets, treat them as trusted colleagues with whom you can achieve mutual successes. It doesn’t always work out that way, but things have a way of paying themselves forward.
  • Don’t violate confidences. The axiom “a person is only as good as his or her word” seems to have fallen out of common usage. Perhaps that’s because too many people have been harmed by too many appearances of confidence being violated. A reputation for trustworthiness is immeasurable. You don’t want a job in which a lack of trustworthiness is considered desirable. If people confide in you, be worthy of it. If situations may require you to break a confidence, you owe it to the person whose confidence must be broken to explain it to them before you do it and to give them an opportunity to suggest alternatives. The only exceptions are incredibly time-sensitive ethical concerns.
  • Don’t lie to your team. It’s wrong, it doesn’t serve your greater well-being, and it usually catches up to you. Being wrong and finding out later is different than lying. It still isn’t pleasant, but it is better than lying. Sometimes, the truth must be held in close confidence as in cases of negotiations or litigation, but it is a skill of great executives to share what you can and tactfully avoid the rest without lying. It isn’t easy to accomplish, but the effort is worth it for your reputation and peace of mind.
  • Don’t lie to your manager(s). It almost never pays good dividends and it’s wrong. Just wrong. It will also catch up to you. If you screw up, admit it. If someone else screwed up, don’t cover up. You can help them fix it if it’s legal, and you can accept some of the responsibility if it’s appropriate. But don’t lie.
  • Don’t assume everyone will be thrilled about your promotion. They won’t be. As I said before, some of them likely competed for it. Or wanted it. Or thought they deserved it. Some of them just won’t know you. And some will just plain dislike you for no good reason. So don’t be disheartened when some people aren’t thrilled or are outright difficult. It’s an opportunity for you to be gracious.
  • Don’t assume you’re too important for what you were just asked to do that isn’t in your job description. We all end up doing things we’d rather not. Some of it is work that we don’t have time for, that’s tedious or otherwise unpleasant, and for which it seems like someone else would be better suited. Just don’t waltz around believing things are beneath you. Intrinsically, none of us is better than any other. We’ve all had different opportunities and developed different skills, talents, and experiences.
  • Don’t update your LinkedIn profile, Facebook, and Twitter as your first official function in your new job. In fact, don’t do it the first few days at all.


Take care, and enjoy life,


Photo Credit: Flickr (Robert S. Donovan)


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