The First Seven Things to Do When You Get Promoted


Your next promotionOk, so maybe you aren’t getting promoted right now, but you will someday, so read on.  Or you know someone who has recently been promoted, so pass it on.  Or maybe you can send it to your boss, as a hint.  :)

There are actually three more reasons to read this article:

1.  If you are several months into a new job, and are struggling in any way, look at this list and see what you haven’t done (or done well) yet – that action might be the key to improving your performance and moving in the right direction faster.

2.  This list will help for any new job – not just a promotion.

3.  Actually, it offers ideas for all of us – whether we have been in our job 4 days or 40 years.  Trust me.  Read on.

I’ve been thinking about this promotion idea for awhile – after all I have a new book, From Bud to Boss – Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership coming out next month.  In that book we talk about what a new leader needs to do in their new role.  But this list is a bit more generic – it applies to leaders at all levels, and it applies to any other job too.

Here then are the first seven things to do when getting promoted.

1.  Get clear expectations.  First thing you need to do is really understand your role.  What do you expect of yourself, what does the organization expect of you, and what does your new boss expect of you?   These expectations form the basis for your success.  A misunderstanding or misalignment of expectations is the fastest way to frustration and failure.

2.  Set your goals.  You have an exciting (or scary) task in front of you.  What do you want to accomplish and why?  Set both personal and career goals and set them in the organization context and with expectations in mind.

3.  Talk to your new boss.  You had to do this to understand expectations I realize, but you also want to get to know them, and determine how you will work together.  How and when will you communicate, what will help you succeed beyond the job description and more.  These things are critically important to your mutual success.

4.  Focus on building relationships.  Yes you have a job to do.  And, the relationships with the people around you are part of that job!  No one is an island – you can’t do it alone.  Invest time in building relationships with  your new peers, people in other groups, your boss, your customers, and if you are a leader, your team.   More people fail in jobs because of poor people skills (i.e. relationship skills) than any other reason.

5.  Learn what you need to learn. Chances are,  you don’t know everything that is required for you to be successful in your new job.  Learn what you need to learn to both meet expectations and to thrive!  Make a list and then make a plan for how you will build the needed skills and knowledge.

6.  Celebrate!  Of course the other thing you need to do is celebrate!  Take some time for yourself and with those closest to you to celebrate your progress and accomplishments.  Celebrating builds your confidence and awareness, and it sets you on the right path for even better performance.  While you want to celebrate, keep your mindset in balance, hence the last item on this list. . .

7.  Be happy but humble.  As in most things in life, balance is important.   You should absolutely be happy with yourself for earning the promotion or the new job.  You also need to keep that all in context and at least some of it to yourself.  Remember that the person in the next cubicle might have wanted the job you now occupy.  Remember that you don’t know it all.  Remember that  being in a new job doesn’t mean you’ve arrived, it means you’ve just started.

This may not be the order in which you do these things, or you may be reading this a few weeks after your promotion, so some of these things you have already done.

Your goal  is to cover these bases as soon after your promotion as you can.  Perhaps this list gives you something to think about or someone to forward it to.

My bigger goal was to prompt action, not just thought.  Regardless of your time in your current role, what idea can you take from this and apply in your work today?

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  1. says

    Great article. You have made very good points. These tips could be used, not only when you get promoted, but also to do a good job in general. You can also do these to get promoted. You have to learn new skills so you can offer something new and you can do a great job. And even if you get promoted and people compliment you, you definitely should be humble and don’t let these good things get into your head. If people tell you that you’re doing a great job, don’t be so relaxed and overconfident.

  2. Joe Sabado says

    Great points! Couple of things i’d like to add:

    1) Recognize that some of the same things that made you successful in your previous position may not be as effective in your new position. For this reason, one needs to learn new skills and look at things differently.

    2) Learn to leave your old position’s responsibilities. I see folks who refuse to let go of their old spot making it frustrating for the person who replaced them. Obviously, if needed mentor/help the new person but learn to let go.


  3. Sarah says

    I really enjoy your blog. I want to get your feedback or direction to further my professional development. I was given a promotion recently and I will be supervising my boss, which is awkward for me. What tips you can share with me to ehance my working relationships with my used to be my supervisor. Thanks.

  4. Gerald Gray says

    Hi Kevin, a couple thoughts that I would expand upon. A combination of #1 and #2; while there may be some long term goals in response to “what does success look like at the end of the year”, whenever I go into a new position I very quickly come up with the “what am I going to accomplish in the first 90 days” and get the boss to sign off on it.
    The other thing, which may be part of the celebration, recognize and thank all of the people that helped get you there. Chances are you had help.


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