Promotions Can be Stressful
Last year, researchers at the University of Warwick found that the mental health of managers typically deteriorates after a job promotion. Part of this anxiety is attributable to,
- the loss of the security of a familiar role and the established relationships around the role,
- perceived cognitive inadequacies concerning demands of the new position, and,
- the uncertainty of transition and the innate human resistance to change.
The greater part of this anxiety is a common career mistake. Often, professionals take up new responsibilities for which they are not entirely prepared. Even when management judged them as qualified for the new role, without thinking through a new role before accepting the promotion, these professionals unintentionally position themselves for stressful transitions, bitterness, or eventual failure.
When Is It Time to Move On?
Do not assume that you are ready for a promotion just because you possess the right academic background, you look the part, you have the right contacts within the company, or, you have impressed your management with your capability to develop a few good ideas and articulate them well.
Here are a few questions to reflect on and assess your chance of a successful promotion or a horizontal transition.
- Are you enthusiastic about taking on a new role? Does the new role fit into your medium- and long-term career plans?
- Have you been performing your present duties well enough to justify a promotion?
- Do you have a successor in mind for your current role? Have you made yourself replaceable? Are you willing to entrust your current responsibilities to a successor without a significant interruption in pace of work?
- Are you qualified or experienced enough to do no less than, say, 40% of the new role reasonably well?
- Have you demonstrated eagerness to gain knowledge of the new responsibilities?
- Are you familiar with the responsibilities, autonomy, challenges, opportunities, and deliverables of the new role? Do you know how to get things done in the new role? Do you know where to get help?
- Are you proficient with the communication, networking and interpersonal skills needed to make it in the new role? Will you get along with your peers, subordinates, and management at the new role?
- Are you at ease with the demands on the new role: time, travel, pressures, and challenges? Can your family (or other aspects of your personal life) support this transition?
- Can you swallow your pride if you are rejected for the new role? Are you ready to seek honest feedback about how management values you, listen, and make yourself more promotable in the future?
The more questions you answer with a “Yes” to, the better your chances for a successful promotion. Reflect on the questions you answer with a “No” to. Create a growth plan, improve your professional profile, and, ask for feedback from management on what you can do deserve a promotion.