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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

4 Classic Traps People Fall Into as Soon as They’re Promoted

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Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

If you’ve just been promoted—well done! You get to gather your friends and pop the cork on that champagne bottle you’ve been saving.

However, as you know, it’s not all a cake walk when you move up. If you want to excel in this new role, be careful not to fall into one of these four predictable post-promotion traps:

1. “I Don’t Need to Do Any of the Work I Used To”

Unfortunately, not everything changes overnight, and it may take a while before you’ll see a measurable difference in the work you’re given, or even the time you have to take on new tasks. Keep in mind there may be a domino effect with projects nearing completion and new clients coming on, and that when they’re finished you’ll be looped in. Until then, you may just have to continue your work as you did before your promotion.

In the meantime, there are a couple things you can do to get a head start in your new role. For example, you can take someone you admire or someone in a similar position as yours to coffee and ask them how they’ve dealt with this kind of transition in their career. Or, you can look into the training options your company provides and see what’s available to you. Or, you can check out these classes for new managers who feel a little lost.

2. “I’m the Most Important Member of This Team/Company”

Uh-oh. Arrogance has overtaken you, and suddenly you’re the best thing to ever happen to your company, expecting applause for all your big ideas and subordinates to jump out of the way when you walk down the hall.

This kind of attitude is only going to make people resent you—and your direct reports not want to do what you ask. Instead, stay humble and curious, and focus on how you can succeed as a team, rather than on your own. This will ultimately make you look good and your team more productive.

3. “I Can’t Believe All the Recruiter Calls I’m Suddenly Getting—This Is Fun!”

It’s typical to have recruiters flocking your doorstep (or, rather, your LinkedIn) once you change your status.

It can be flattering, but be careful. The very people who supported your promotion, or even fought for it, expect more focus and energy from you now, not less. Sneaking out to take a call from a headhunter can be a time waster and an energy drain—plus, if you get caught, you’re risking losing the credibility you worked so hard for.

For at least six months, stay focused solely on your new role and confirm for your boss that they made the right decision by supporting your upward mobility. If you find down the road it’s not a great fit after all, then it’s OK to start the search.

4. “Spending Spree!”

Many promotions come with a salary increase or bonus. If that’s the case for you, go ahead and reward yourself with a little treat—a new pair of running shoes, a donation to your favorite charity, or that beach vacation you’ve been dreaming about.

Then, be the responsible adult I know you are (and want to be) and make sure some of that extra cash is going toward an emergency fund or your 401K. No matter what your level or income, the earlier you start to save for later on in life, the better (here’s why).
Besides, you won’t really “miss” money you weren’t getting until recently, and you can pat yourself on the back later on when you see just how much you have saved up.

It’s OK to do a happy dance and celebrate your new promotion. But then, remind yourself to have a little patience, to stay focused and humble, and to be wise with your new responsibility (and salary). 

You’ve got this! After all, you’re at a whole new level now.

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