Ask LH: How Can I Make The Transition Easier After A Promotion?

How Can I Make the Transition Easier After a Promotion?

Dear Lifehacker, I recently got promoted to a more managerial position in my company, which is great — but I'm a little nervous about making the transition, especially since I'm managing all my former friends and co-workers. Got any tips for a managerial first-timer? Sincerely, Promoted Person

Pictures: Rob Young, Robert McGoldrick, Pascal, W-Minshull, Lars Wichert

Dear Promoted,

Congratulations on the promotion. It can be a bit tricky to jump into a managerial role (especially if you don't have much experience in the area), but there are a few things you can do to ease the transition.

Talk to the Other Managers

How Can I Make the Transition Easier After a Promotion?

As a manager, you obviously have lots of new responsibilities, some of which you won't have experience with. You may know how your former manager worked with you and your team, for example, but you probably know less about the stuff that goes on behind the scenes — like hiring new people, working with the higher-ups and things of that nature.

The best way to dip your toe in the pool is to befriend some of the other managers in the company who have been in their roles a bit longer. Then, if you ever have questions about how they do something (or how the company works), you can hit them up. Your old manager might be able to offer some insight too, provided they left on good terms. With a couple of "mentors" on your side, you can demystify quite a bit about your new role.

Don't Make Too Many Changes Right Away

How Can I Make the Transition Easier After a Promotion?

One thing most experts agree on: When you first come into your new role, don't start changing everything right away. Even if you've been working at this company for a while, it's better to take some time to get used to your role first. PayScale puts it well:

... Try not to immediately implement changes unless they're absolutely necessary. Although many companies tout how important change is, most people are not huge fans of it. Change is made even worse when supervisors move in and immediately begin scrambling processes that may have been in place for years. Waiting anywhere from four to six weeks before making a change to policy or procedure allows for subordinates to understand your leadership style, and hopefully to "get on board" with you as their new leader.

That said, you probably have a few ideas you've been itching to put into action. When you want to start implementing those, engage your team first. Meet one-on-one with the members of your team and ask them what they would like to see done differently in your department. Chances are everyone has a few annoyances they would like to see fixed, and you can start with those. They will feel like they're being heard, and you get to start improving how things run. Once you have sunk into your new role, you can start playing with bigger changes. The Harvard Business Review also has a great take on this, if you're interested in more info.

Don't Be Afraid to Delegate

How Can I Make the Transition Easier After a Promotion?

If there's one thing I had a hard time with when I started managing Lifehacker, it was letting go of all my old responsibilities as a writer. When you're a manager, you have to learn to trust others to do things well. You can't do everything yourself, or you'll burn out. You're better off knowing how to delegate well. That means knowing which tasks others can handle, who would be best for the job, and how to give feedback in a way that helps everyone improve.

Of course, you don't want to go too far in the other direction either. If you delegate all your tasks to others and you're just kicking back at your desk every day, you're probably delegating too much. There's a balance. Just like you want to create a positive, collaborative atmosphere without sacrificing your authority, you should delegate to others without becoming a deadbeat manager.

Your Relationships with Co-Workers Will Probably Change

How Can I Make the Transition Easier After a Promotion?

Getting promoted above your peers can, in some circumstances, be awkward — especially if you were competing with them for the promotion. Furthermore, you're in a position of authority now, so you need to ensure that they respect you. That doesn't mean you can't still be friendly with everyone, but going out and getting hammered with them on Friday nights probably isn't the best team dynamic. Being friends with your team is great — being close friends is significantly more difficult.

Some experts even argue that you should avoid the casual lunches or after-work drinks you used to have, although this really varies from person to person. Our opinion: It's OK to be friends with your team, as long as it doesn't cloud your judgement. But you should no longer partake in the office gossip or complaining about work, since that can undermine your authority. And, yes, you might want to avoid one-on-one lunches with the same coworker every day, as that can make it seem like you favour them over the rest of your team. It can be awkward at first, but try to treat everyone the same. Don't give your former friends all the good projects just because you're pals, and don't go easy on them when it's time for discipline.

Most importantly, keep in mind that these are just general guidelines, and all this advice depends on the environment you work in and the nature of your new job. You may have to feel it out for the first few weeks or months, and you may make some mistakes along the way, but don't worry. Your co-workers are probably trying to figure it out just like you are.

Cheers Lifehacker


    The change one is a great point. Even people who implement changes all day every day will baulk when it comes to changing themselves. But showing staff how it benefits them is a great way to get them to make the change.

    Also definitely try and find a strong mentor. Potentially within the business you're in. Relationships like those are win-win. They are actively building the business and it's most valuable resources - and you learn how to deal with some of the stickier situations you will find yourself in.

    For some issues delegate the brainstorming to your staff (give me 3 solutions is a common one I throw at them). Choose one or not - just be sure to give credit where it's due. Those staff will, over time show you when they're ready to move from delegating just the work to delegating authority for said work.

    One final point - you won't always be right. But then you don't have to be. Sometimes it's better to just make a decision even if it's not the best possible answer. Inactivity (and procrastination) often guarantees failure. Businesses can handle small to medium mistakes if you commit - inaction and indecision in a leader will leave you stranded at the bottom and likely without the authority to lead your team.

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