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Battlefield Promotions: Best Opportunity Ever or Recipe for Disaster?

Yikes! The boss is no longer there. Whether the departure is caused by their desire or the organizations, there is now an available position. Senior management may want to show that they promote from within or they may not have time to do a thorough search. Either way, in the midst of the turmoil, a promotion is made

Professionals are encouraged to climb the career ladder. So promotions are usually a good thing – right?

The real answer is ‘sometimes yes and sometimes no. There are times when people rise to the occasion and there are also times when they are simply set up for a negative experience masked as an opportunity.

A poorly executed jump in status can hurt a person’s career and have a negative impact on the workplace. However – being plucked from the group and asked to serve is rarely an opportunity to turn down if you are excited about advancing your career.

success-1148046_640If a change in position is sudden or a surprise, the rest of the organization can take a ‘let’s wait and see’ attitude. They may think that the promotion hasn’t been earned. People wonder whether this elevation will stick or not, if the person has the ability or not, and with concern comes doubt and worry.  When worry about whether or not someone will remain in the job, it takes people’s attention away from the mission and vision of the work.

Battle-field promotions happen a lot more than you think. In a perfect world every promotion should be thought about carefully because the last thing you want is for someone to fail. Few want to see a job have to be taken away.

How do you know if you should turn down a position boost at work?

You don’t want to manage people to don’t have the patience to manage people – Not everyone is cut out for management, and that’s OK. Know yourself well enough to know if you have the patience to coach, train, give feedback and mentor others. Understand that getting work done through others requires you to develop talent more than you roll up your own sleeves. Make sure someone sits down with you and goes through the new responsibilities.

You love your current job – If you love what you do, why leave? If you really don’t want to leave the people, role, or responsibility you have now , stay where you are. You probably aren’t ready be promoted.

Money turns your head – Often more money means more responsibility. Don’t salivate for that increase in your paycheck without a good understanding of the strings that come with it. It’s unlikely you will get paid a while lot more for doing the same job you are doing now at your current rate of pay.

Many people have had this job – A high turnover rate should be a red flag that this position may come with unseen problems like a poor manager or a lack of organizational support. If many people have held this title, you should be asking ‘why?’

It’s so new no one knows much – If there are unclear goals, incentives, budgets, managers, track record – do a lot of investigation. You may have just been offered a dead end adventure.

No pay increase – A lateral move is no promotion. If you are excited to be offered a new opportunity, then check it out. But think about your long term career, not just a short term opportunity.

Be sure to get:

  • 30, 60, 90 day Milestones – An expectation to ‘hit the ground running’ is unfair as you are new to the job. Sit with your new boss/prospective boss and clarify what deliverables are expected and by when. Negotiate those things that seem like wishful thinking on the organization’s part.
  • Development/Mentoring – Identify how you will learn. Certifications, mentors, classes, training, books, articles, shadowing, and orientation can be identified and scheduled. How much time will your new boss be spending with you to get you up to speed? If there is no one to ‘teach you the ropes’ internally then determine how you will identify people outside of your organization that can help.

“No” is an option. If you don’t think the promotion is right for you or that there isn’t enough support for you to be successful, stand up for yourself and turn the opportunity down. Indicate where you think you can help the organization out. Offer to be considered an interim placement until the right person can be found. When you talk about what your professional goals are, your decision can appear to be well considered.

If you really think it’s not for you, say so. Battle-field promotions can be wonderful opportunities but no one wants you to be another combat casualty.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 19th, 2016 at 8:03 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.