How Not to Blow a Promotion

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During my years in the magazine business, I promoted hundreds of people, and it was thrilling to see most of them thrive in their new positions and continue to excel from there.

But every once in a while, a promotion would be a bust. The person would either become paralyzed in his or her new role, unable to execute the responsibilities, or weirdly hyperactive, busy at many things but not the right things.

I call this problem Sudden Promotion Syndrome (SPS).

And here’s the really crazy part: SPS isn’t necessarily due to someone lacking the appropriate skills. It’s often the result of feeling overwhelmed and/or fearful and not taking certain steps to guarantee success in the new role.

Though you can rebound from Sudden Promotion Syndrome, it’s far better to never fall victim. Here are three steps that can prevent SPS from happening when your boss announces, “Great news. The promotion is yours.”

1) Upgrade your image immediately. Buy some new outfits, new shoes, a new coat, and a new handbag—all fitting your higher position. And get a great new haircut, one that says you mean business. As my former entertainment director Tracy Shaffer used to say, “To be the part, you have to look the part. That’s why celebrities wear lipstick when they take out the trash.”

It may seem like a small thing, but these kinds of style upgrades will help you not only look the part, but feel the part as well, flooding you with confidence.  Yes, some of your former peers will assume you’ve become too big for your britches, but trust me, the benefits far outweigh the negatives here.

2) Set up an appointment with your boss to discuss exactly what he or she expects. You must do this with any new job, but it’s particularly important when you’ve been promoted. Because you’re already on the “inside,” your boss may just assume you know what the new position entails, but how could you know it all? Here are three key questions you could ask at the meeting:

•    “What goals would you like me to set for the next three months—and for the entire year?”
•    “What strengths did you value in the person I’m replacing?”
•    “Was there anything my predecessor neglected to do that you want me to really pay attention to?”

Having a clear sense of your responsibilities will help ease fears, preventing paralysis at one extreme and gerbil-on-a-wheel busyness at the other.

3) Own Your New Power: Sit where someone of your stature is expected to sit at meetings and use the perks that have been given to you. Don’t hold back. If you have an assistant for the first time, embrace it. In other words, don’t do half of his or her job because you’re uncomfortable giving orders. Practice will make you comfortable.

By | 2017-02-06T17:33:48+00:00 February 6th, 2017|Kate White's Blog|0 Comments