Promotion and Career Changes: Making it a Success

The role that our thinking and our understanding of that thinking can play in careers or life transitions should not be underestimated. Since leaving the corporate world and forming Vantage People I’ve been able to relate to this image on more than one occasion.

The corporate world is fast-paced. Everyone seems to want a piece of you and you juggle as fast as you can with the knowledge that another ball could be thrown in at any minute. Compare that to starting a business, from the sewing of that first seed to getting a viable business off the ground, pushing opportunities, working contacts and knocking on doors until you start to get some traction. Whilst both scenarios test an individuals’ resilience, they do so in very different ways.

This is true with any transition. No two organisations are the same. The views and expectations of a senior leader or a middle manager are distinct – as are the pressures placed on these individuals. It is the repositioning of oneself that requires an individual to develop and change, assimilating new information and allowing this process to shift their horizon and broaden their perspectives.

Failures in new positions are often associated with those who seek to replicate strategies from previous roles. Replication can never work because the combination of pressures, expectations, and behaviours required in a role are unique. For those undergoing career transitions, whether staying in the same company or stepping into another, self-awareness and mindset are critical factors. A new role creates a new set of circumstances and therefore requirements. Understanding the culture, expectations and yourself at a sufficiently deep level will define how you position yourself.

Without insight, people lack the awareness to truly consider who they need to be – how to align what they bring to a role with the culture and circumstances of their employer. Taking time to reflect on what you expect from the role and how you plan to deliver that are critical tasks prior to beginning in a new position. Individuals should be prepared to leave their preconceptions at the door.

Being clear on expectations of both the business and its staff alongside the key delivery objectives provides a foundation. Systemic thinking shows the importance of accounting for the history of an organisation, acknowledging what it has taken to get it to the present and the roles people have played to deliver progress. The influence of former employees (particularly the previous role holder) and the circumstances of how you came to be here, shape beliefs and behaviour, leaving deep imprints.

When you join an organisation your confidence and personal needs differ depending on how successful you were in your last post. Similarly, the track record of the person you’re replacing will have left a legacy. Where their performance is perceived as poor, expectations and hope are likely to be high. Teams may have a long list of difficult and intractable problems they need to solve. The pressure for the new joiner to be a hero and act quickly to save the day may result in decisions being pushed for too early, before relationships and the prevailing culture are truly understood.

Replacing a highly successful predecessor can exert a similar level of pressure. Sky high expectations of knowledge and skills being immediately available can undermine confidence. The newcomer is likely to realise that there is much they don’t yet know. In and of itself this is not a bad thing. However, effectively managing the process of gaining this knowledge and insight whilst maintaining an aura of competence is a challenge. There is a balance between proving worth, building relationships and understanding. A strong leader needs to have conscious awareness of the wider pressures that influence performance and actions.

Career transition can feel like walking a tightrope, balancing confidence, belief, and wider organisational forces. The development of an understanding of how the paths of employee and employer have converged is crucial in determining whether the path ahead will lead to mutual success.

We work in partnership with clients and organisations to deliver successful transitions.  Our development programmes and coaching are focused on enabling the insight and understanding that stretches and challenges performance.  We support clients to develop strategies as well as their understanding and awareness to operate more effectively, aligning with the challenging remit of leadership..

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Contact us if you would like to discuss how Vantage People could help you or your business.

Jemma Barton,

Director & Coach


T: +44 7717 131 434


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