Promotions are something that most people are willing to sacrifice life, limb, and select loved ones to win.
When you do get promoted, it's indicative of your developing skills, the growing trust that superiors place in you and, in many cases, the ability to brownnose the right people. It also means a new title, a decent raise and an ego boost that will last a week or two.
Many of you will be promoted this year. That's exciting! Also, terrifying! When you've worked hard to achieve a promotion, it's always a bit unnerving when you're actually awarded it. New responsibilities and expectations are dumped on you quickly and lots of people are NOT ready for it. Promotions will break a person who can't adapt to the mountain of change that comes along with it. It's a common refrain in the halls of accounting firms that the first year at a new level — whether it's senior associate, manager or partner — are the most grueling. People will try to tell you what to expect, but nothing really prepares you for how different your job will be.
Here's a quote from a Lifehacker post from a few years back that explains the change well:
In fact, no one […] really ever sits you down and explains that to make it to the highest levels you need to start doing work outside of your day to day work. They don't tell you that you need to be out there meeting new potentials business or keeping up with industry trends on your own time. They don't tell you that you need to come up with a project to do your assigned work even better than was originally planned—cause they didn't have the time to think of something better. They don't even explain to you in a structured manner "here's how you go about doing this work" since it's not your job yet—you're at best an apprentice who needs to keep an eye out to learn. They just don't have the time to teach you that.
In addition to new responsibilities that no one really tells you about, there are a slew of unwritten rules to learn at each new level. Often times you don't even know these rules exist until after you've broken one.
Here's an example: a former colleague of mine was promoted to manager several years back. At "New Manager" training, he went to the welcome meeting on a Sunday night in flip-flops, jeans and a hoodie. Afterwards, a partner he knew and liked pulled him aside and dressed him down over his, uh, dress and said, "You're up with the big boys now, so you need to dress like it." Another example: I heard about a former colleague who everyone knew as "Rob" was instructed that he start going by "Robert," again, after he was promoted to manager.
Frat boy clothes and nicknames are little things, obviously, but important enough to someone that an actual conversation took place. There's not much you can do to prepare for these sorts of situations and there are countless others.
Again, many of you will find your professional world upside down shortly after climbing another rung of the ladder.Luckily for you, the collective knowledge of our esteemed readership can make adjustment easier.
For those of you that have been promoted once, twice, thrice, however many times, share what you learned after you got bumped, if you managed to survive or if you're still treading water. And those that are awaiting news, what are your biggest anxieties?