3 essential actions to help you avoid missing steps on your way up the ladder.
Securing that promotion you’ve been chasing is exhilarating. But this could be a short-lived adrenalin boost if you don’t start the climb with your eyes wide open.
Sadly many people enter this upward mobility ill-prepared. Not your fault because, after all, you don’t know what you don’t know. It should be the role of the organisation, your boss or human resources and talent management to properly prepare you. The reality is that everyone is running thin so the default approach is to throw the new appointee into the deep end with the sincere hope that the “stuff” that got you noticed in the first place should help you float until you’re into your stroke.
Here are a few disciplines that you can adopt to make sure you don’t miss a step.
- Don’t pretend. Ask for help ahead of taking the role.
It is an integral part of an ambitious person’s nature to rise to the challenge. In particular when you feel the pride that comes with someone believing in you. So the last thing you want to do is demonstrate a lack of knowledge. Right? Wrong!
It is foolish to believe that you step up to the next rung with all the knowledge and skills you need. To ensure a smoother transition be sure to ask for insight and assistance.
- What were the challenges that your predecessor faced?
- Why did they not succeed?
If it is a situation where the predecessor is still in the organisation, having in turn been promoted, then that is your go to person for answers.
Ask for assistance from your superior and if you don’t have one then from the head of the organisation or HR. You need a “safe confessor”, a confidant or generally someone you can use as a sounding board as you stretch yourself through the next phase of growth. And of course there is always the web with an endless supply of management tips, guidelines and research. Use it.
- Accept that you are about to lose some friends.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of being part of the lower rungs of a team (yes these exist!) is that you share a multitude of common goals. You tend to share the same ambitions and find comfort and security in “suffering” similar challenges. And very often you will find a common “cause” in complaining about “management”. Not surprising that very strong friendships are forged here.
Then one day, lo and behold, you find yourself propelled into management status yourself. Now what? Well firstly accept that you are now “management” and on top of that it was you chosen above the rest. Not surprising that there may be some jealousy or resentment.
What to do? For starters accept that this is part of the growth pain and what you need to do is retain alliances whilst stepping up to deliver whatever is required at the next level. And of course this will now include managing those below you.
Take the time to manage expectations with your previous friends. Ask for their support and don’t be afraid to share your concern about the shift in relationships. If you are open and honest at the outset, it is far more difficult for allies to switch to enemies without being seen as lacking substance.
When the time arrives for you to make the tough management calls, at least you will know that you made every effort to retain friendships that you value. And those who are truly enlightened will know that retaining friendship and demonstrating support will hopefully result in them being pulled up the ladder alongside you.
- Mark off 90 day and 120 day milestones on your calendar.
Everything takes time. Don’t let that driver personality of yours tell you that you’re failing ahead of time. As a rule of thumb you need to give yourself three months before the dust begins to settle and for you to at least catch a glimpse of the horizon. It takes a further three months before you feel like you fit into the “skin” of your new position.
Even Heads of entire countries have got into the habit of reporting back on their first 100 days. And taking a leaf from their book of learning, why not prepare a feedback for both your team as well as your superior on what your experience has been, what you feel you are achieving and what you would like to see on the horizon – when you arrive there.
The discipline of setting measurable milestones and constantly reviewing where you are in relation to these is an excellent way of protecting a sense of achievement and maintaining forward motion.
At the end of the day it is often much easier to move out of an organisation, to spread your wings, gain experience, and then re-enter in a more senior position than sticking around for promotion. But this should not deter you from maximising the investment you have already made and enjoying the fruits of your labour.
Just stay sharp and don’t miss a step.
© Dawn Klatzko @The Art of the Suit 12 March 2018
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