by Michael Holland     

A promotion brings tremendous thrill and excitement.  But seasoned leaders realize that those feelings are short lived.  Their hard-won wisdom tells them a promotion’s short honeymoon will be followed by three times as much work as they had before.

As you get promoted, especially to your first management position, you should anticipate these fears:

The Fear of the Real Boss Coming Out

It’s so compelling: The opportunity to start fresh with a new boss who has all your interests in mind.  You feel supported and believed in, and you likely are.  But beware of that momentary sigh or pause, where you can suddenly see a change in energy.  This is the transition your boss makes as he decides the honeymoon is over and it’s now time to get you trained to work the way he needs you to work.

The bit is going in the mouth, and the reins will start to be pulled.

The Fear of “That” Project

With a new role comes some new projects you will be responsible for leading.  Most of the projects will indeed be challenging and stimulating, but beware of “that” project; the one that’s been percolating since your predecessor left.  The project with unrealistic dates, an ever-increasing scope of work, and tired resources.  And likely a pet project of your new boss.

The Fear of Buyer’s Remorse

Usually it comes towards the end of the 4th day in the new role.  That sinking, horrible feeling of “what have I gotten myself into” and “why didn’t I listen to my spouse/friend/mentor/co-worker”.  You rationalize that you’ve made a LinkedIn profile-building, career advancement decision and there’s no good way to retreat.  And besides, the money is good.  But the truth is that the job is a bad reality TV show waiting to happen.

Think long and hard about that promotion opportunity before you say yes.  Don’t be enticed by the lure of how great it will be, because in the end it will likely be a tougher job than you imagine, and the money might not cover the pain and agony.

Leverage your deep well of fortitude to make a good decision on a promotion.  Follow your passion and/or go into a new role with your eyes wide open.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • When facing a new promotion, what are some things you might do to go into the role “with eyes wide open”?
  • Are the three fears articulated here meant to serve as a stop or a yield sign? In other words, should you automatically say no to a promotion if it is going to actualize one of these fears, or should you just proceed with caution?
  • Can you think of any additional advice you might give someone considering a promotion opportunity?