After multiple conversations with your boss and months of focus, hard work, results and self-improvement, you’ve finally been promoted! This is a brilliant milestone in your career, so take a moment to congratulate yourself and to celebrate this success properly, after all – you have worked hard to get here.
But once the celebrations are over, what then?
It’s time to start thinking about how you are going to make the early days in your new, more senior role count. How can you make a positive impact straight away and prove to everyone (yourself included) just how deserving you are of this position, while laying the foundations for further progression? Here’s our advice:
#1 Resist the urge to dive in head-first
Newly-promoted staff will often dive into their new role head-first, especially if you have worked at an organisation for a while and already have an understanding of how things are done. You may want to implement changes here, undo old processes there, and say yes to everything and everyone in a bid to prove yourself worthy of this promotion.
Instead, slow right down. Nobody expects you to start making waves straight away. You have a grace period (i.e. - the early days following your promotion, where you should be learning everything you can about what this role and new level of seniority entails.)
Book in some one-on-one time with both stakeholders and peers to identify their priorities, what they need from you, and the improvements they would like to see in your department. During your first few team meetings, take note of the dynamics between employees, their questions and their overall focuses. Ask questions and contribute to the discussion, but only as and when you are confident that you have something valuable to add.
Ultimately, use the early days of your promotion to absorb everything around you and listen more than you talk. This will enable you to make better informed decisions in the long-run and get everybody’s buy-in on these decisions.
#2 Reassess your priorities and set goals
Having taken some time to reflect and assess, you are in a position to make more well-informed moves and changes. I would advise drawing up a list of short and long-term objectives and putting together some SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Measured). From here, you can identify quick wins that will add value straight away, as well as some more strategic objectives which require more forethought and forward planning.
It’s also important to fight the inclination to focus on tasks which were part of your previous role. Maybe you are subconsciously holding onto these tasks because you know how to do them and do them well, unlike some aspects of this new and unfamiliar role. But having just been promoted, your focus has shifted, and the tasks which once featured at the top of your to-do list are now either somewhere further towards the bottom, or they sit with someone else completely. You need to make sure your key priorities reflect this shift.
#3 Set boundaries with your former peers
Lastly, one of the hardest parts of being promoted is being in a position where you have to manage your former peers – some of whom might have become your friends.
Your first step should be to book in some one-on-one time with them individually to outline both your visions for the team, as well as their own career objectives. This is a key part of your role as a people manager anyway, but booking this meeting in sooner rather than later will help your team take you seriously as their manager and respond to this change in dynamic early on.
You may find that this is enough to keep your manager-employee relationship separate to the more informal friendship one that you have. However, if a former peer or friend crosses the line between professional and over familiar, for example, jokingly undermining you in front of new starters, you will need to intervene quickly. Clarify with them, in private, that during work hours they need to see and treat you as they would any manager, because you will be managing them just as you would any other employee. You cannot be seen to be giving differential treatment just because you are friends or former peers. There is no need to be harsh, just assertive.
It may be easy, or you may experience some teething problems; it depends on your team and the nature of your relationship. The key is to give it time and stick to the boundaries that you put in place, and soon you will establish a professional but also open and amiable dynamic.
Understandably, following a promotion you want to make a positive impact and prove yourself, but for this to happen, you must proceed with tact and caution. This means having the humility to listen and learn from everyone around you, the focus to think about your short and longer-term goals, and most importantly, the tact to manage both old and new workplace relationships. In doing this, you will find that you are able to make the most of this exciting new chapter in your career and ensure it is indicative of all the successes to come.
Nick Deligiannis is the managing director of recruiting agency Hays for Australia and New Zealand.