Don’t Make These Mistakes When You Are Promoted


Arguably the best news any employee could receive in their career journey is a promotion on the job. Sometimes, it comes with a higher salary, greater power and control to manage a group of people and make informed decisions. However, some of these benefits – if not properly nurtured – can become the basis for leading an organization towards failure, losing a cherished team or losing a sense of purpose and one’s values. This article will help employees avoid these 6 mistakes when they are promoted.

  • Understand that “Success may injure you more than poverty”

This phrase was used by Booker T. Washington in his speech to his students and it still remains relevant today.  Depending on what level this promotion puts you in, you may wield too much power that people will never tell you “no”. They will agree with whatever you say and feed you with the lies you want to believe. Some of your direct reports may overestimate their revenues and report non-existing success stories about potential clients. These lies may make your monthly report look good but will eventually hurt the organization and your reputation at large.


Train a team that will be encouraged to share failures and design ways to address them collectively as a team rather than leaving it on the shoulder of the employee whose responsibility it is to solve the problem. Be happy about good news but be more interested in knowing the bad news and the challenges that your team is facing. Don’t be fooled by “we don’t want to bother you with the details”. The details should be your business. You can’t afford to let any minor detail slide. One “zero” can cost fortunes and an omission of “the” can be catastrophic.

Be happy about good news but be more interested in knowing the bad news and the challenges that your team is facing.

  • Your previous achievement will not predict your success in your new role

We are quick to assume that what we achieved in the past serve as enough basis to show that we are more than capable to perform well in our present role. There are several myths to this fact and I will address that soon. Indeed, our past provides great experience for us to work more efficiently, e.g. understanding how to work with a team and how to engage and manage a client can come in handy while you serve in a new role. However, depending on where and what you are promoted to do, you may require more learning in making financial decisions, understanding legal issues, understanding major administrative and human resource issues, and engaging with major investors who have no time for long pitches and stories.  Your promotion means you need to learn more, read more about your industry, understand the existing market both locally and internationally, and think far into the future but not too far that you lose sight of existing realities. 

  • Don’t forget how it was when you were at the bottom

Your bottom may not be at the entry level of the organization you are currently in, but it still has some influence in how you manage your team. Remember when you were unhappy with how the manager talked to you – how you were often overlooked and the manager took all the credit for your work? Remember that birthday no one remembered and how it made you feel? Remember how frustrated you were when you had no car and once came late but received a query? These low moments should make you humble when engaging with your team. It should also help you to notice tricks your team members can pull off to avoid work and prepare you to spot them when they occur. Don’t ignore your colleagues who became your good friends and contributed significantly to your growth. Yes, you are the boss now but you can lose it anytime. True friends if lost are hard to replace

  • Know when to speak, where to speak and how to speak

Your role has changed, whatever you say even on face value may be considered very serious. What you do not even say may be insinuated based on your mood. You are now leading a team or playing a higher role. So people pick cues from your silence and your countenance. Choose your words carefully and mean what you say. Do not allow yourself to be forced to speak on issues you have no clearance to speak on. Grapevines start this way.  Your words should be the truth and it should inspire and motivate the team towards any goal. Don’t speak because you have to do so by virtue of your position. Mean what you say, connect with the story and share your frustration.

  • Yes, you will have enemies but don’t create more enemies

People will have issues with the tough decisions you make and sometimes they may never understand regardless of how you explain yourself or the company’s position to them. Some end up becoming your enemies. Some of these issues cannot be controlled easily, however, make sure you don’t create your own enemies by firing people based on your own terms and causing your past enemies to be redundant in their roles and want to quit. Your promotion is not a chance to seek vengeance. It is not about you always. Remember that it is about the organization.

  • Don’t appoint your allies as a way of protecting your territory

If you have the power to make appointments for certain roles, do your best to be objective. Choose people based on competence, the company strategy and their consistent performance over the years as well as their personality. Don’t choose people you can easily manipulate because they are friends or because you can trust that they will not take over your position. If you still assume that all your friends will be loyal, maybe it is about time you read about Julius Caesar again.

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