I know this should be a joyous occasion for you and I don’t want to scare you, but if you just got a new promotion, you need to manage the transition strategically. According to a recent study by global leadership development firm DDI, 37% of all newly promoted leaders fail. Failure means that these leaders left their positions or failed to meet their objectives. According to the study, there was not a significant difference between internal and external candidates, nor did it vary significantly by job level. This tells me that if you just got a promotion, you need to be strategic about how you handle it, so you don’t become one of these statistics. So, what can you do to up the odds of your success? Here are a few recommendations which are practical and really work.
1) Get clear on what you need to accomplish – I know this sounds obvious, but one of the most important things for you to do is to ask your direct manager what you need to accomplish in the first 90 days. Then, go one step beyond this and ask how different stakeholder groups define success in your role. For example, if you ask the question: “What does the CEO want from this role in the first 90 days?” it prompts a deeper level of thinking and elevates the discussion. Other stakeholder groups may be the Board of Directors, Finance, Sales, Customers, or in some cases, the Union.
2) Create a Relationship Map – A relationship map is simply a visual diagram of the key people that you need to proactively develop relationships with. I recommend spending some time understanding who the “Core Group” is at work. These are the people who are the key influencers. They make things happen, and people work hard to serve their interests. At the same time, you want to know who the key stakeholders are that directly interact with your role and what kind of relationship they had with your predecessor.
3) Know your Risks – Every time a leader is hired, the hiring team carefully weighs the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate. Although it isn’t pleasant to think about, there are a handful of people in the organization who have picked apart your experience, leadership traits, and weaknesses and who are acutely aware of what you bring (and don’t bring) to the table. Of course, you did not get any of this feedback when you were offered the job, but it can be useful to ask for this information now. Ask your manager two questions: 1) “What did you see as my major weaknesses when you hired me” And, 2) “How can we ensure these weaknesses don’t block my success?” With these answers, you have basically created a risk mitigation plan for yourself. You have also put key issues on the table, which often go unspoken until they become derailers.
Here is the full DDI Study. It is worth an eye-opening read.