Professional Development

How to Know If You’re Really Ready for a Promotion

Written by Peter Jones

You’ve been offered a promotion at work! Congratulations. It’s an honor and a good sign you’ve been doing a lot of things just right. Upward mobility can be tricky to navigate, and you’re one step closer to the top. But before you jump at the chance to make the transition from team member to department supervisor, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Managing requires a markedly different set of additional skills. You might even find yourself doing less of the work you love and more of the managing. The perks are pretty easy to spot. You’ll get paid more, for starters—when taking on additional responsibility, you’re almost always rewarded with extra compensation. Your value to the company goes up, so does your paycheck.

But there are also a few drawbacks you might not anticipate:

  • Higher risk: The stakes are higher. So are the hazards, if those apply to your line of work. Also, more of your coworkers will be out to try and get your job. You’ll have to keep your eyes open and deliver more than you have been expected to deliver previously.
  • More company responsibility: Managers are often congratulated when a team produces good results. But they are also often blamed when those results aren’t up to par. No matter how well you directed your team or how hard you all worked, you’ll be expected to own the end results.
  • Leadership: There’s no escaping the fact that you will have to assume a role of leadership. Good managers have to learn to inspire people, motivate them, keep them on track, give them space to do their work—but not enough to shirk it, etc. You’ll be part educator, part mentor, part taskmaster, part disciplinarian. A big portion of your new job will be spent this way.
  • Delegation: If you’re not good at delegating or ceding control. If you’re a slave to details or have a hard time trusting others to perform at your level, be prepared for some anxiety. You will have to delegate as a manager, and be comfortable with the results.
  • More managing: If you really love the nuts and bolts of your job, keep in mind that your new job will involve a lot more managerial tasks, and a lot less of what you’re used to doing. This can be a tough adjustment.

If you’re starting to feel yourself waver after reading this, ask yourself these three questions:

1. Can I tolerate these new demands?

Am I prepared to assume the new risk, the new responsibilities, shift my focus from what I’m used to doing to managerial tasks? And am I up for additional challenge and, perhaps, uncertainty? If the answer is yes, keep thinking.

2. Can I manage others?

If you’ve never managed before, try and think about the last time you were on a group project. Did you delegate any tasks? Take the lead in any way? Try to imagine how your coworkers have interacted with you in these situations. Did you easily assume a confident place of leadership? Did you feel you had their respect and trust? Or did you hate every minute of it?

3. What would I like doing more?

It’s a fair question. If you really love your daily work and really don’t enjoy being in a leadership or supervisory position, then the extra money and challenge might not be worth it to you. If you’re really just hoping to work your way up the corporate rungs, then it might be a necessary first step.

Remember, as you move up and up, you’ll constantly have to shift your skill set and update it accordingly. Don’t make any big leaps before you’re ready. But keep your eye on whatever prize you have in mind and you’ll be fine.

About the author

Peter Jones