The Problem with Promotions

The first step in thriving at work is to find or create work that’s a great fit. But oddly that thriving can lead to new challenges we may not handle well because success often is rewarded with a promotion. And here’s the rub, almost all promotions include managing people. Unfortunately, earlier successes don’t guarantee we’ll thrive in this new role.

It’s not as if we’re born knowing how to interact with people, especially difficult people. We’d like to believe it’s in our bones but after thirty-seven years of coaching people in the workplace I can tell you it isn’t. I’ve heard many horror stories about managers and co-workers. I wish all companies offered managerial and relationship training or coaching but few of them do.

Let’s face it – work is an ongoing soap opera

Workplaces are full of relationship challenges. We can’t ignore this fact or wish it away. Ultimately all work requires dealing with people and it takes effort to be good at it. Below are examples of how three clients confronted tough situations and are learning to respond positively to them.

Soon after beginning a new job Beth loves she realized that she had a boss is brilliant at many things but totally disorganized. Her boss also says yes to too many opportunities. The employees who have to implement them are left feeling overwhelmed. Additionally, she changes her mind frequently and sometimes suggests actions that lack integrity. Because Beth is the second in charge, she has to deal with the fall-out from this behavior. With coaching Beth is learning to stay grounded and be skillful at giving feedback to her boss while avoiding feeling resentful. In essence, she’s learning to be a coach to her own boss.

When Mark came to see me he reported that he was unhappy at work because when he was promoted he felt undermined by his co-workers. After exploring this further we sorted out that it wasn’t “they” who were making his life miserable; it was just one person. That simplified the problem and made it much easier to tackle. We strategized how he could approach this person and create a better working relationship. He has had good conversations with him and is much happier now at work.

Mary has a new role as a leader in the same company where she has been employed for many years. She requested my help because she lacks confidence. She’s afraid she’s stilted and repressed in her responses to leaders at her level and above. She wants to speak out in an authentic way and remain true to herself. I’ve supported her to trust her intuition and act on it, to remember all she has accomplished already and to take in all the good things people say about her. She’s stepping up now.

Set a goal of thriving

Just as you had to work to find or create a great job or business, continued success in your new role will take work too. It helps to cultivate a sense of humor and gain some perspective. It helps to remember to be an adult, not a teenager (or younger) especially in a culture that supports immature behavior. It helps to pause, take a deep breath and then respond, rather than react.

How can you do this? Take on learning to be more effective with people just like you would anything else. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a mature supportive boss and great coworkers, it will be a benefit to find a class or workshop that helps you hone relationship skills and increase your EQ (Emotional Quotient). Or find a mentor. Or, read books on enhancing your people skills or how to manage people. And/or work with a coach.

These efforts will pay off and provide support to continue thriving at work. If I can be of assistance in any way, let me know.

Keep thriving,


Career Enterprises – where work and heart meet.
Coaching for professionals in work-related transitions for thirty-seven years.

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