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How Not to Drown After a Promotion

A promotion can be a huge step forward in your career, but what if you suddenly feel like a fish out of water? Adjusting to a new job position with more responsibility can be quite nerve-wrecking. InterNations member Malgosia gives advice on how to deal with the situation.

So, you have been promoted! Congratulations! In the beginning you might be guided by conflicting emotions - from extreme excitement to a fear of defeat. This transition period might be the biggest challenge during your work life. It could be a source of motivation and inspiration, but at the same time it is a nerve wrecking time and can cause huge stress as well.

The key to success is to accept the fact that all changes you must begin first and foremost within yourself.

To adjust yourself well to a new environment ask yourself first:

  • Where are you now?
  •  What has changed?
  •  Who are you now?
  •  What is important to you?
  •  What is expected from you?
  • How do you define a success and defeat in this position?

Are your answers representing your knowledge and facts or are they only assumptions? How can you check it?

Whether you like it or not, your new boss and new team, as well as the new responsibilities will require fundamental changes from you, both in the way you think and the way you act. Are you courageous enough to admit that, having been an expert before, you now have to learn many things anew?  You will need a portion of humility and openness as this is the only way you can become an expert again.

Remember that what worked for you at your previous position might not be useful at the new one at all. The conviction about the universal ways of achieving success is wrong as well. Old habits and beliefs plus a ready success solution are a very dangerous mix especially when accompanied by strong emotions associated with change.

How can you control the transition period and make sure you don’t increase the risk of failure?

1. Break up with the past

When changing perspective at your new position, you might start by saying good bye to your previous role in a literal and symbolic way.

Set the date when you will no longer go back to the tasks of your previous work.

Prepare yourself mentally. E.g. try to define a solution that works best for you for a specific problem and finally select another way of solving that same problem.

2. Open up to a new reality

Note the similarities and differences between the previous and the current job and remember that everything you already know is an important resource but in  your new position your skills and resources have  yet to be developed.

3. Deepen your self-awareness

At the end of the first month, compare your old position with your new role.

  • How did you do your job previously and with whom? How does it look now?
  • What was possible and what beliefs did you have? How does it look now?
  • What was important? What is important now?
  • What skills were needed? What skills are needed now?

4. Set goals

The first step in your new role should be setting short-term and long-term goals and expectations. If you don’t set your goals at the very beginning you might end up acting on all fronts, and not necessarily the most important ones.

5. Exit the comfort zone

Do not only what you are good at but also what you have to do (even if some tasks might be completely new to you). In this way, you will discover which skills you have to improve and learn a lot.

6. Deal with the fear of defeat

If you are not afraid to fail, risk-taking seems much less worrying. When you take risks you discover new opportunities and learn from your mistakes. 

Remember you can still “swim” after your promotion. Observe how you role is evolving and adopt what is necessary to remain in control of the process. Good luck!

Malgosia Chabrowska is a business and career coach. After working in different corporations for many years and observing people struggling with confidence, motivation, and changes, she decided to help people strengthen their skills and bring them to the point they would like to be. In her work she brings an empathy and positive attitude for everybody going through changes while challenging the habits and helping to find and apply solutions together.