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Lesson Learned: Promotions are not about you!

June 7th, 2009 No comments

Way, way back I was promoted to my first management position.  The conversation with my boss went something along the following lines.

Boss: It sounds like you were expecting the promotion?

Me: Yep, I worked my butt for this .  (rather smugly) (Looking back I was an arrogant little sh1t)

Boss: So you see this promotion as a reward?

Me:  Oh yes! (laughing)

Boss: I see it differently.  The promotion is not a reward for your hard work!  That is why I gave you a bonus.  I promoted you because the department needs someone who to lead the team and offload the day-to-day management tasks from me.  This promotion means that I need you to step up into this new role and perform.  It will be a stretch for you and you have a lot to learn but I think that you can do it.

Me: What do I need to learn?

Boss:  You will need to learn management skills, improve your project management skills to handle multiple simultaneous projects and people.  And of course budgeting too.

Me: No problem!  I will prove that I am worth the investment.

Boss:  I am investing in you and you are a high risk investment at that!  You have great technical skills but now you need to learn the additional skills to perform as a manager.  Basically you only have 25% of the skills to needed to perform as a manager!  I am prepared to take the risk for a limited time and you need to demonstrate progress week by week.  I can only give around 6 months to get up to speed and deliver.

Me:  No problem

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Wow, boy was that a boatload of work!  I learned a multitude of extremely valuable lessons from that promotion and the ensuing years of work.  Here are the top lessons that I learned in the those six months.

  • People are promoted into positions to meet the needs of the business.

  • The learning phase never ends but there is a limited amount of time that the business can wait for you to learn and gather the skills needed to perform at the level needed.