Congratulations! You’ve worked hard, shown that you’re ready for more, and leveled up at your job. But after all the effort of advocating for yourself and making sure your work is top-notch, getting a promotion can trigger a feeling of, “Okay, now what?”
First, of course, you celebrate, and start thinking about how you might use any bump in pay that may have come with your promotion. (The realistic answer is usually “bills,” but isn’t it fun to think about a Treat Yo’ Self scenario?) Second, think about what your work life is going to be like, and how it’s changed from your previous routine.
Understand the expectations
After the celebratory buzz calms down, make sure you’re clear on what’s expected of you in your new role. Will you have people reporting to you? Are you taking on a specific project or area of responsibility? Are you keeping some responsibilities while passing others on to colleagues? Were you promoted with a specific strategic goal in mind for the company?
If you haven’t already, sit down with your boss to sketch out what your day-to-day will look like now, and what your goals will be in your changing role. It’s crucial to make sure your understanding is aligned with theirs so that you’re not off chasing the wrong things to start. It’s especially important to understand how your role is changing—you don’t want things you used to do to fall through the cracks because you misunderstood what was still on your plate. Similarly, you don’t want to be slow to get started on something important because you didn’t know it was coming up. So, communication is key as you get started in your upgraded position.
Be ready to keep growing
It’s a bit too early to start thinking about the next promotion, but not too early to think about your growth in this role, and what you need to do to start well. Think about why you got the promotion in the first place: was it a specific project, or set of skills? How can you work on those skills further, so that you keep succeeding? Does your company offer any training opportunities that can help you keep building on those skills? Training is especially important if you’re moving into a manager role. It’s something that managers at all levels can use, so don’t be afraid to request management training as you get started.
Be a thoughtful leader
If your promotion comes with new reports or a more senior role, you want to make sure you’re getting off to a good start with your team. After all, it’s not just a change for you, but for them too. And when you’re a promotion and not a new hire, there might be different political dynamics at play (someone else who thought they should be promoted, people who used to be on the same level in a new boss-employee dynamic, etc.).
The first step is being a good listener. Meet with your team to talk about how they work, what you expect from them, and what they expect of you.
Some people think that in order to establish themselves in a new role or as a team leader, they have to be aggressive and dominant right away, taking a hard line on how everyone else should be doing their jobs. In reality, intimidating people is less effective than being a more thoughtful leader, even if it means hanging back a bit. Be positive and open to hearing what your team has to say. Learn the personalities and dynamics of your team, so that you can figure out how to work with them most effectively. And it’s important to set a precedent now for open communication so that you can be ready to work through challenges as they come up.
Don’t forget work-life balance
With a promotion, it may feel like you have to prove you’re “worthy” of it by working longer hours, working on days off, not taking a vacation or personal time, etc. That’s a great recipe for burnout. Instead, take a deep breath, and know that you’re already worthy of your promotion—or you wouldn’t have gotten it in the first place. Work hard, but not so hard that you’re blurring the boundaries between work and home, or neglecting things in your personal life that you would have handled before the promotion.
You got your promotion because you’re ready for it. It can seem a bit intimidating once you start balancing new work with the old, and setting new goals. By approaching the process with an open mind and a growth mindset, you’ll be succeeding just as much in your new role as you did in the old one.
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