Thu. Apr 25th, 2019

Can You Handle Your Promotion’s Biggest Challenge?

“The biggest, most immediate challenge you are going to face is managing people who up until this moment have been your peers.”

Staffers at radio stations across the country are working their tails off. Not just to do an amazing job at their current position, but looking for a promotion–the next step in their careers. There’s more money, increased responsibility, and maybe even a fancy new title like Executive Producer, Sports Director or Program Director. It all sounds great and you feel terrific when you get that promotion.  

Image result for new boss next exit

Immediately you have new duties and may be able to shed some of your least favorite duties from your old gig. But are you ready for the biggest, most immediate challenge of your promotion? You may not even be aware of this challenge when you interview and push for the promotion. The biggest, most immediate challenge you are going to face is managing people who up until this moment have been your peers. 

Initially you think this is advantageous. You have all been in the trenches together and have a good personal and professional relationship. But this has instantly changed for a number of reasons:

  1. Some of your peers may also have wanted this promotion and are resentful that you received it.
  2. Now you are no longer part of them, the production team, you’re the boss or a boss and they no longer feel comfortable sharing their concerns or blowing off steam about the job with you.
  3. They also may start avoiding you thinking that everything they say will be evaluated and affect their job performance

So what can a newly promoted manager do to help ease this transition both for the employees and themself? Jeff Goss in Forbes magazine talks about early steps you can take to help with the transition to the “new normal”:

“If you do end up leading former peers, be sure to have a one-on-one to address any fears, gripes, or concerns either of you have. Get it all out in the open and offer this person the chance to speak up now, with the expectation that after the talk you’ll both be comfortable with your new roles.”

By being proactive and tackling any potential problems head on you accomplish two things. First, you let the employee know that their feelings are valid and that you are here to listen and address them. Second, you as the new manager are re-setting the relationship in a way that your former peer can understand and move forward with. If you’ve been around enough, you’ll get passed over for a promotion that instead goes to one of your co-workers. You’ll want this conversation so the relationship can be reset and you can move forward in your roles. 

Just off the top of my head I can think of a ton of very successful PDs in our business who have succeeded in roles where they ended up managing their peers: Tony DiGiacomo at WFNZ/Charlotte, Jason Wolfe/WEEI in Boston, Chris Kinard at The Fan/DC, Olivia Branco/SiriusXM Sports and Chris Johnson at The Team/DC. 

All of the above have used their strong people skills and relationships to support their new roles with their respective radio stations/channels. Another bit of advice on this topic comes from the CEO of JobVite, Dan Finnigan. In a piece he did for INC.com Finnigan wrote:

Step confidently into the new role–but remain humble. Yes, you got the job for a reason. There’s no need to feel guilty. In fact, you should be proud! At the same time, however, understand that things could have gone differently. You might be the best person for the job, but you’re not the only person for the job.

So to everyone out there busting their hump for a promotion–good luck! Just remember to act quickly if you are promoted to build a strong working foundation between you and your former peers. It will save a you a lot of trouble in the long run!