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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

3 Common Mistakes Smart People Make After Landing a Big Promotion

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Time to pop the champagne and call everyone you know: You've been promoted!

First things first: Congratulations! No doubt, you’ve put in hard work to move up. You deserve to pat yourself on the back and look forward to your new role.

With that said, a not-so-funny thing can happen after getting a promotion. Some people let their new responsibilities go to their head and they start acting like a different person—and not in a good way. They go from absolutely crushing it in their old job, to shooting themselves in the foot in their new one.

But you can avoid this scenario by just sidestepping these three common mistakes:

Mistake 1: Acting Like a Know-it-all

This promotion is validating. It shows you know your stuff—and the people you work with can see it. So, naturally, you’re ecstatic and feeling pretty invincible upon hearing the news.

However, you don’t want to cross that line between confident and cocky. No one wants to work with a teammate who’s strutting around, pretending they have the answers to every one of the company’s pressing questions.

The truth, of course, is that everybody has room to grow and things to learn, regardless of what level they’re at. Bearing that in mind won’t only make you more likable, it’ll keep you from taking on something you really shouldn’t.

So, save yourself from this career pitfall by asking even more questions than you did before, and whenever possible, solicit ideas from your colleagues. This will demonstrate that you’re (still!) a team player.

Mistake 2: Psyching Yourself Out

In most cases, the stakes are raised after you’ve been promoted. This can include larger teams to manage, more accountability, greater visibility, or more interactions with high-value clients.

Feeling anxious yet?

Some people easily avoid coming off a know-it-all, because they’re too far on the other side of the spectrum—worrying if they’re up to the task of doing this new job.

But, keep in mind, there’s always a reason (usually more than one) why you were tapped for this new, exciting challenge. People don’t just get promoted for no good reason. Management wants to see the company be successful, so if they’ve asked you to step into a bigger role, it’s because they believe in you.

Still feeling nervous in the moment? Take a few deep breaths. Go for a walk. Listen to your favorite song. Give yourself some time to acclimate to this new role, and if you’re still feeling unsure, read these reassuring words to remember you don’t have to be so hard on yourself.

Mistake 3: Coasting

Truth talk: The worst possible time to coast is after you’ve been promoted. If anything, you should work even harder to exceed the expectations and objectives set before you by your leaders.

All roles entail a learning curve, and so, if you spend some time taking it easy—you could find yourself missing deadlines or blowing your first project. And if that keeps happening, you might have a tough talk about if this promotion really makes sense for everyone.

Now, even if you’re able to take your efforts down a notch, I wouldn’t. Because, when it comes to your professional life, being complacent is a big mistake.

The fact that you put in the work to get this promotion tells me you care about climbing the ladder. And if you aren’t aiming to get better and learn more, you won’t keep moving forward.

So, once you get your feet under you and feel like you have a handle on what’s expected in this role, have a conversation with your boss about how you can keep growing. Ask: Where are the opportunities to innovate or do more? This might seem intimidating, but it’ll remind your boss that you’re a go-getter and reinforce their decision to bump you up in the first place.

You should always have a next play in mind, even while you remain laser-focused on your current role and deliverables.

The most important thing you can do is not become a new person simply because you have a new title. Remain in touch with the skills, thought process and habits that helped you get to this next step in your career and you’ll be just fine.

Good luck in your new role!