A promotion is a dream come true, right? Not always. Sure, the extra clout and extra money is wonderful—but it can cause political problems if your colleagues feel resentful, especially if you just came aboard or if you beat out a beloved employee. It’s possible to turn your good fortune into a win for everyone, though. Executive coach Kathy Robinson, founder of TurningPoint Consulting, shares her own hard-won tips for accepting a promotion with grace, even when colleagues are skeptical.
“You have to walk a fine line between authority and friendship, and even seasoned bosses have a hard time with that balancing act,” she says. “Add hurt feelings to the mix, and this is a true test of managerial capability.” Robinson advises using actions, not words, to bring coworkers into the fold.
Build your credibility as a leader. “Feelings aside, do your part to make sure that people see why you got the job,” she urges. Work harder than you think you need to: That might mean long hours at first or quickly learning something that’s crucial to the management role. Make sure people see that you’re advocating on their behalf for things that will make their work lives better. “Your goal is for everyone to say that you’re up to the task within 30 days of your taking the role,” she says. While doing this, stay diplomatic, even to colleagues who might give you the cold shoulder.
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Take your show on the road. “Make sure that people see you as someone who’s around, accessible, and a strong listener,” Robinson recommends. “People want to know they have a direct line to someone who can make things happen.” If a coworker really wanted your corner office, make it a point to go to his/her office when you can instead of summoning the coworker to yours. Visit your staff in their workspaces routinely. Continue coffee breaks with your former lunch buddies—and make a point to invite people whom you suspect might be disgruntled, too.
Make your group shine. Build a presentation on what’s great about your team, showcasing individual talents and future capabilities of your department, and share it with your new manager and peers. “This serves a dual purpose,” says Robinson. “You can give your staff recognition but also show others in the company what you have in mind for your group.” Of course, make sure you share it with your team so they know you’re an ambassador for the group and that you’re giving them widespread recognition.
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Delegate. Often, people fear fast-trackers and newcomers because they’re worried that they’ve been sidelined or that their skills aren’t valued. Schedule one-on-ones with your staff members to figure out what everyone on your team is best at, what they’re hoping to learn next, and their career goals. Then find ways to give them the projects, support and influence they need to make it happen. Ask for input, too! “Many managers make the mistake of trying to figure out everything themselves when they first take a role, so as not to show weakness. But asking people for their expertise and insight will show them that they have a place at the organization,” Robinson says.
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