5 Reasons To Avoid Promotion – And How To Get Over Them
7 December 2023
Amazing! You got the promotion you deserved, but such is the reward for being good at your job: you soon discover it’s a poisoned chalice.
The grass isn’t always greener when you’re promoted. Going from numbers, codes and mechanisms to the murky world of dealing with people is like jumping from being a great Mechanical Engineer to Chief Architect. The skills needed for one role seem to have no bearing on the other.
As you stare into the screen and bite your lip on your first day in this new role, you suddenly become aware of five good reasons that you should have said ‘no’ to the offer of a step up. But using good communication skills and conversational skills you can overcome these anxieties and make the most of your new position.
“Suddenly I’m managing my peers. I used to sit and take the p*ss out of management, complaining with my colleagues. Now I realise that: a) I’m going to have to get rid of Bob/Jo/Mo if they don’t buck up their performance b) they expect me to do something about whatever we were grumbling about. As some of those concerns were related to difficult people, I’d rather be playing Candy Crush Saga rather than making difficult decisions.”
If you avoid a problem, you could risk this becoming a crisis, which you don’t need in your new position. Thus, it’s important you know what to challenge and when. With a few interpersonal communications techniques and help in developing understanding about how your teams work, instead of avoiding challenging conversations, you’ll learn to face them with confidence. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll bound out of bed in the morning, elated at the thought of slapping your colleagues down (although I know one or two who rather warm to this idea).
However, the dread does subside because you now have the skills to deal with these new situations, and a clearer sense of how to resolve issues. Conversational skills such as the ones I describe here, can help you to handle performance issues with your colleagues.
“I’m now appearing at Senior Management Meetings and have to prove myself, but they’ve an entirely different way of conducting meetings and it’s all so political. It’s like an episode of The West Wing, and I feel like I’m nothing more than a secretary with a notepad, such is my ability to influence meetings at the moment.”
There are many influence skills you can use to persuade people while maintaining rapport, calibrating gravitas and have them listen to you.: even at Board Level.
Every situation is different and yours is unique. As a result, you may need help in getting clarity on your specific situation. It’s worth thinking about the impression you may be giving others, non-verbally as well as verbally, because presentation skills and public-speaking skills are as much about how you appear and how you act, as what you actually say. To upgrade your gravitas look at this guidance.
“They’re talking to me about Business Development. What? Was I trained in a souk? How the hell am I meant to go from code to drumming up business? What are Sales and Marketing doing?”
They need you to translate the ‘technolingo’ to suppliers, distributors, resellers etc and they clearly think you have the abilities, or you wouldn’t be in the position. If you were to look at who you’ve already been working with, you’d realise you’re the best person to make the contacts: people know you and trust you, so take those positives and go from there. Building on that secures opportunities for you and your team.
Even if you understand the rationale behind Business Development in your position, one IT Director with whom I was working was at a loss as to how he could gain from networking. With a bit of coaching on networking skills he was able to recoup the £1000s he was spending on a major trade annual networking event – an empty experience that had previously pained him – by winning business through successful networking. On top of that, he surprised himself by having a lot of fun in the process. Another client, a CIO, was able to drum up business by co-ordinating with other clients to to cross-sell services.
Relationship building paid off quite literally in that case.
“I’m hiding behind two 22 inch computer screens at the moment but I know they’re going to find me. I can’t run and I can’t hide. I’m now accountable to the forces that be for how my team perform.”
Managing up, as well as across and sideways are essential skills for you to develop if you don’t want to be begging to your boss for mercy as you see a metaphorical blade hovering above your head. Get good at the managing up and it will help you manage down and across. Here are several ideas to help you do exactly that.
“Apparently, my focus needs to shift from detail to ‘big picture’: manageable short term tasks to reach those obscure long term goals.”
Having a new perspective takes some getting used to. Suddenly, you have to be more bi-lingual than you were before, you need to understand the large goals, how they translate into your remit and you also need to communicate this across to your people. This means you’ll be shifting your focus and theirs from ‘what’ to ‘why’. Realising that this can increase everyone’s can make your work more meaningful.
All five of the toxins in the poisoned chalice have one characteristic in common: communicating with others. It’s not the technical challenges that will be daunting: you have the knowledge already. It’s how you handle others to achieve wider goals that take centre stage in a new role.
- Up for a promotion but undecided about taking it? Look at the five reasons above and see if they apply to you.
- Learning these new techniques can open up doors for you. Explore my various communication skills and presentation skills training courses, to become a Communications Ninja. Contact me for a free 15 minute Discovery Call to get the ball rolling and make the most of that promotion.
This article was originally published in June 2014 and was updated in December 2023.