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Warning: 5 Unexpected Changes that come with a Promotion


Promotions come with several changes many employees don’t consider until they’re in their new role.

Every year when companies schedule their annual performance reviews, there are discussions about promotions. Promotions come with several changes many employees don’t consider until they’re in their new role. In my work with CEOs, one of the most common and disturbing trends in today’s workforce is the attitude of entitlement.

Employers and employees perpetuate an attitude of entitlement. Employers want to demonstrate their loyalty, and often one of the most common ways to do this is to promote an employee that has been with the company for a long time. While well-meaning, this often results in the activation of “The Peter Principle” in which companies promote employees to the highest levels of incompetence.

This ultimately leads to termination, and initiates a painfully slow unravelling of an employee’s confidence, engagement, and ability to perform.

Employees in turn perpetuate an attitude of entitlement, by getting themselves into a corner that has no escape, by telling themselves, “I deserve a promotion.” They allow their egos to drive their career advancement. They are often drawn to the idea of a higher-ranking title and a higher rung on the career ladder.

The Fallout of Unwarranted Promotions

Promotions come with significant changes that both employers and employees overlook until it’s too late, and staff have been moved around.

Two current clients are dealing with the fallout of promotions that should have never been granted and promises that should have never been made. We’re working diligently to:

  • minimize/contain further damage,
  • shift the culture from high entitlement/low accountability to low entitlement/high accountability, and
  • save a valuable, loyal, long-term employee with vital institutional knowledge from walking out the door.

Changes That Accompany Promotions

Promotions are not just about rewarding loyalty, and moving employees up a ladder. To set up everyone for success, employees must think about the following criteria prior to accepting a promotion position:

  • New job requirements

Do YOU (the employee) pass the “GWC Test?”

Do you Get it:  Do they truly understand their role, the culture, the processes and systems, the pace of the organization, and how all of these elements come together to form a well-oiled machine?

Do you Want it: Do they genuinely like their job? Do they believe in what they are doing? Are they excited about coming to work to see the progress that is occurring? Do they want to use their experience, talents, and ideas to further the organization?

Do you have the Capacity to do it? Capacity is a multi-pronged word. It applies to mental, physical, emotional, spiritual (in some cases), and intellectual capacity, as well as having the capacity of time to do a job well.

  • Integrating the demands of the new position into your personal life

    It’s likely that the new position will require additional travel either locally and or Internationally and very possibly longer hours. Employees must consider this carefully. They should also have these conversations with their “significant other” who may need to pick up the slack in their absence.

  • Giving up responsibilities you really enjoy

    Promotions often involve movement from a hands-on practitioner role to a management/supervisory role that takes employees out of the trenches where they are doing what they love. Leaving behind the work they love doing may sound glamorous initially however, not doing what you love doing permanently can be a source of significant stress and unhappiness.

  • Learning tasks and responsibilities you may not enjoy

    Conversely, you will likely have to become knowledgeable in areas you may not have naturally pursued. This is common when companies promote rock-star sales employees to a sales leadership position. They move from being in the field responsible for themselves, to being in a corner office responsible for others. Being a team leader may not have been something you would ordinarily have wanted to do however the promotion position requires that you manage a team. Now you have to learn how to do that.

  • Changing the dynamics of office friendships

    This is one of the most surprising and difficult challenges that accompany promotions.

    With any promotion comes a very real change in dynamics and relationships with colleagues. Where once you were able to sit and bemoan manager with your colleagues because you were one-of-team(us) and shared many of the same frustrations – that is now different. You are one of “them”. The guys you once believed didn’t “understand” or was “divorced from what was happening on the floor.” You may have developed good friendships along the way and now that you have moved up the ladder the line has to be drawn in the sand. As a member of the management team, you may well be privy to many sensitive and confidential conversations about your friends that you will not be able to share. Be sure you are  willing to establish the boundary and change the dynamics of your friendships? This is a question only the employee can answer for themselves.

Promoting Strategically and Effectively

Ambitious employees can do many things to set themselves up for successful promotions, including:

  • Leading or engaging in initiatives outside of their traditional roles
  • Being coach-able and open to feedback
  • Mentoring others
  • Delivering on what is expected of them and being known as someone reliable
  • Engaging in professional development and sharing this knowledge with others

Employers must think about career trajectories and organizational impact far in advance of  scheduled performance reviews. Consider why you are offering the promotion- Is it a loyalty decision? Is it a competency based decision – remember the higher up the ladder you go these less technical skill is needed and the more strategic skills ( e.g. soft skills- people skills, negotiation skills) are required.

Perhaps an employee is a good promotion candidate, but requires some coaching and training to step into the new role. This training is often not about how well the person can do the job – because lets face it; the reason the promotion discussion is even on the table is because the person has already proved their technical competence. So what else does the person need to be set up for success? These steps must be executed in advance of the promotion so that business proceeds with minimal disruption..

Unsuccessful promotions leave a trail of disappointment, broken trust, and failed executions. These can also be a costly exercise both financially and reputation-wise for the company.

When thoughtfully executed, however,  successful promotions yield tremendous benefits for everyone involved, empower the company to attract & retain great talent, and propel and promote continued growth.

Sunday Night Syndrome

Do you spend half of Sunday night staring at the ceiling or counting sheep(or other animals). Are you tossing-and-turning and just getting more frustrated at the prospect of facing Monday and the week ahead.

Here is what it looks like:-

You’ve had a great weekend. On Saturday morning your kid’s team won their sports match game, you had a great  dinner out on Saturday night, spent some time relaxing with friends you haven’t seen in a while and even got that cupboard purged – you know the one that you have been putting off for six months. You look at the wall clock and it is 4:30pm on Sunday afternoon, and a feeling of anxiety comes over you.

Almost immediately your mood turns to impatient, worried and stressed. Over and over, you mentally calculate how much time you have left before going to bed, which you dread because you know you’ll toss and turn as you restlessly try to fall asleep.

From Free and Relieved on Friday to Miserable on Sundays. The Sunday Night Syndrome does not necessarily start on Sunday night it can begin as early as Sunday morning.

While it is NOT a medical or psychiatric disorder, it is a collection of normal feelings and challenges that many people experience. It entails the 3 S’s of Sundays: stress, sleep problems, and sadness, and can be a sign of anxiety about your job.

The resulting anxiety affects your last hours of relaxationfamily time, Sunday night dinner, and sleep routines. It makes those tough Monday mornings even tougher.

I used to suffer from The Sunday Syndrome. Sometimes it even hit me on Saturday nights. I even got to a point where I would dread Fridays because these were closer to Mondays.

I’ve learned how to manage it, and I’ve helped my clients make Sundays more fun and productive. Here is my five-step solution to the Sunday Syndrome:

  1. Straighten up your work area as you leave on Fridays to remove the stress of Monday morning catch up. Remind yourself on Sunday that your desk is clean and tidy and chaos free for you. Picture a clean start, beginning the week feeling refreshed and up-to-date with no outstanding work to catch up on.
  2. Schedule your errands, work and fun activities without leaving all the stressful ones for Sunday. People typically over-schedule their weekends or don’t schedule anything. Instead, plan the tough stuff for Saturdays, motivate yourself to get those done early on a Saturday and leave Sundays for the fun and relaxing stuff.
  3. Set the alarm for the same time everyday including Saturday and Sunday. People who sleep later on weekends frequently experience Sunday Night Syndrome when they cannot fall asleep on Sunday night. If you want to sleep in on the weekends, make it no more than 30 minutes. Or let Saturday be your sleep in day and be sure to wake up at the same time on Sunday as you would on Monday.
  4. Savour Sundays by planning an enjoyable activity for yourself or your family. See it as an activity that marks the end of a good and productive weekend. A late Sunday lunch or sun-downers with the family can mark the end of an enjoyable weekend.
    People get depressed and dread the end of their weekend often because they have not mentally prepared for it to end. Establish a family ritual that marks the end of the weekend. Whether it is a family meal or drinks or school and work preparations like setting the weekday meal menus or sorting out school uniforms and scheduling the weeks activities; you will find the mental preparation helps to settle the anxiety and replaces dread with excitement. Make sure it is something that is enjoyable, relaxing and soothing.
  1. End your Sunday preparation ritual with a relaxing bath or shower before bedtime. Avoid a heavy meal before bedtime and any beverages which may affect your sleep patterns. Switch off TVs and video games and maybe add some relaxing music as well and just get ready for a relaxing quiet evening. Once in bed, pick up a book if you need to. I find my night time reading is a necessity,however I always choose a book I have already read so that I can skim the pages with very little actual engagement and this works wonders to induce sleep. Turn the clock out of your sight-line to remove the reminder of your Monday morning 6 am alarm worries. I personally don’t keep a clock in my room. Give yourself permission to relax knowing that the weekend was good but its over and the work week ahead is planned and will be absolutely fine.