Recently, I was invited to speak to a batch newly promoted managers. I don’t do this often because not many companies make this an event, and secondly I wasn’t sure what to say. Not that I got invited a lot! However, this time the invite was more an insistence and I could not wriggle out. I have always believed that as a Quality professional if we are doing something, we rather do it well. So, I prepared and am pleased to share some of the key points. They apply equally well to people who might be awaiting a promotion.
It’s done. You can’t be in blame mode anymore
I have seen a lot of people promoted. I am usually not one of them and hence have an unbiased view. I find them happy initially and their life then hits a vacuum. They can’t blame anyone anymore for the lack of progress in their career. They just progressed! It’s a very strange feeling for many. They can’t complain and have to move on once the celebrations are done.
Let’s accept it. Your peers, friends, colleagues are no more the same. You are senior to them and things change. It’s futile to deny that nothing changes. You must change with times as well and learn new skills and methods and not worry that you can’t any longer talk to your colleagues the way you used to.
What can you do? Just be fine with the change. Happens to everyone who gets promoted. Find new peers and colleagues and build a new network. True friends from the old network will stay, don’t worry.
Figure out who matters, what is your work, and who do you work for?
So, what do you do once the party is done and you have accepted that life has changed? This is another pitfall many promotees have. They continue to work the same way as before. Many organizations arrange sessions to orient promotees with this change but it’s tough.
My advice in such situations is to try and work on some questions. We are all curious by nature. The moment there is a question on the table we look for answers. In looking for answers we can often overcome some pain. Do that. So, what questions can you ask?
Who matters? What is your work? And who do you work for?
First try and assess who matters in this new role? It’s always different when you are in the role from when you are aspiring to be. Like in sports, all training is fine but an event/match day is always different. Once you know who all matter in this new role try to learn what your work is. Speak to your manager, peers, use your own mind, do what it takes but quickly figure out what the job is. I know you would know it from the interview process but please know that the job is never what the job description says it is. And finally, the most important question. Who do you work for? It need not be your manager. Who is the recipient of your or your team’s work? This helps in ensuring you are doing the right thing and working to satisfy the customer.
Stand up but don’t fight.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying you don’t stand for principles and values. You should. You must. I have however, seen many a new manager picking up arguments (and fights) in trying to uphold principles and values. You can always disagree but please don’t be disagreeable. I still don’t know why new managers tend to argue more. Maybe it is the excitement and zest of the new role or maybe new managers discover their voice overnight. No one (in general) really has benefitted ever from picking up a fight. Don’t.
Work one level up
This is by far is the most important lesson I have learnt. Work one level up. I am hoping none of you are thinking your current promotion is your last one. With each level up it becomes increasingly difficult to get a promotion. There are just too many people and factors other than performance come in play. What is in your hands is to work one level up. Your performance and contribution should be at a level that is expected post your next promotion. This way you are always under the spotlight and performance won’t go un-noticed.
Most importantly, please be aware that you are under watch. There will be people who want to be proved correct in having promoted you and there are others who want to prove these people wrong.
Anshuman Tiwari is a ASQ Fellow with experience in applying process excellence over 20+ years with world class results, a leader with experienced in large GICs, and someone with excellent ratings in managing large OpEx teams across multiple countries.He has hands on and program level experience with kaizen, lean, six sigma, mbnqa, design thinking, innovation and other quality methods. In the last few years he has managed large RPA and Digital initiatives.