3 Questions to Ask Before You’re Promoted

One of the happier moments in a leader’s career is when you’re promoted.
And one of the sadder moments in your career is when you realize the promotion isn’t what it was described to be.

So who’s fault is that?
Who cares?  Instead, let’s get on with how to avoid that from happening in the first place.

If you’re going to buy a new mobile phone, you likely do some research.
If you’re going to buy a car, you do some research.
And if you’re going to buy a home, that’s right, you do some research.

So in the case of a potential promotion where you’ll make more money (ideally, year after year for many years) and have more responsibility and accountability, it makes sense to do some research before you get promoted.

So in that spirit, here are 3 questions to ask yourself before you get promoted.  I realize you can’t always know when you’ll be promoted, but at minimum, if you’re seeking to be promoted, ask yourself the following:

  • What are my manager’s objectives?  (We’re not talking annual performance review goals.  We’re talking, long-term, i.e., what is it that your manager is accomplishing or should be accomplishing?)
  • How does my manager spend his or her time?  (Most people’s understanding of their manager’s role is based mainly on the times when they interact with him.  But that’s typically a small fraction of what she does.  Ideally, how your manager spends his or her time should indicate what’s most important for success in that role.)
  • Who is critical to my manager’s success?  (The higher up you go in an organization, the more important relationships become.  It’s less about what you know (because that should already be a given), but more about who will want to support your initiatives and objectives.  “Want” is the key word, because you won’t be able to dictate or command support.  It’s something that is only given by your soon-to-be colleagues.)

Obviously, that’s not all there is for ensuring success with a promotion.  But it’s a good start, one that can preempt a whole lot of pain and disappointment, as well as the 3:00 a.m. cold sweat wake up in bed and wonder “Why didn’t I just stick with my previous job?” syndrome.

And if you’re a leader grooming someone to take over your role, simply tailor the questions to coach your high potential:

  • These are my key objectives, and here’s what I’m seeking to accomplish.
  • Here’s how I typically spend my time and here’s why I do that.  (Obviously, there should be a connection to your key objectives.)
  • And these are the people and/or the roles that are critical to my success.  Here’s how I engage successfully with them.

Promotions should be something to celebrate, and not regret.
So take the time now to prepare yourself, because often the timing is not of your choosing.

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