Promotions: What Problems are You Willing to Take on?

A new job is exciting and, usually, very anxiety-ridden. The anticipation of different challenges, being exposed to a new work culture or perspective, and even just an alternative commute can shake away the doldrums. Refreshing, right? Initially, and depending on the type of job you’re going into versus what you’ve already experienced, this “refreshed” feeling could last a while; maybe even going so far as you feeling at ease for a few months. (Woot woot!) But, what happens when the problems start hitting? Even moreso, what if you’re still in the same company and environment, but just got an increase in responsibilities when the new job was a promotion? Cue the Jaw® theme music…

One issue with promotions that would be particularly daunting is overseeing employees that were once your peers. How awkward is it that someone you used to spit the sh*t with over a couple brewskies now is having to answer to you about meeting business demands? Let me answer this one for you: (potentially) VERY much so. In particular, the level of awkwardness can be more than cringe-worthy if said former coworker lost out to you in the promotion. This situation can certainly put a damper into one’s immediate professional relations. Competition has experienced few juicier moments.

Many people don’t even pursue promotions because of this very circumstance. My gut instinct in this scenario is to look at the “loss” from the others’ perspectives along with their personalities. Would they be hurt and hold a grudge? Take the feedback on why they didn’t get the position gracefully and work to improve their chances next time? Would they make any changes at all? Sticking with the first response option, rejection is natural for most people especially with younger “millennial” managers who’ve rarely faced failure with lasting consequences. However, like with all failures, successful people take a breath, re-assess the situation, and make adjustments to better be able to overcome the challenge at the next opportunity. For a less drama-filled work environment, most of us would therefore appreciate all rejected applicants to behave in the latter circumstance: take the feedback gracefully.

How do we make this behavior the norm then rather than dealing with the toxic side-effects of rejection? The advice I’ve heard multiple times from all my mentors on this topic, however, about having your feedback not being considered, much less implemented, is, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to drink.” Although I appreciate the analogy and understand its historical significance, I don’t agree with settling on the assumption more cannot be done to help develop the said individual. Applying the platinum rule (treat others how they want to be treated) has been helpful in some circumstances, but there are still a few that haven’t been swayed to “join the dark side” or “drink the Kool-Aid®,” to put it in the individuals’ own words.

Can one manager really turn the tide enough to change the culture and what is acceptable when it comes to responding to less-than-ideal feedback? Does it “take a village” with enough people buying in to the vision that it allows everyone else to feel empowered enough to step up to the new standard? Is this a tipping point or a balancing point? Let me know your thoughts!

Twitter: @KaitCook18

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