5 unexpected ways a promotion can make your life harder — and how to deal with them

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  • A promotion at work often brings status, power, and hopefully, a raise.
  • But there are often downsides to promotions, including expectations to work longer hours.
  • Here are five things that I didn’t expect that came with a job promotion.

We often think that a promotion will bring more money, success, and status, but there are drawbacks to almost any promotion.

You may need to work longer hours. Issues that used to be someone else’s problem are now yours. Managing people can be tough.

I once received a promotion where I’d manage a new department at a small company. The change brought lots of interesting challenges and boosted my self-esteem, but there were some very hard moments, too. Here are five ways that getting promoted made my life more difficult:


1. I had to go to bat for myself

Before my promotion, I had a great manager. He protected me from the loose cannons in management, tooted my horn to the company owner, supported me in my work, gave me opportunities, and generally had my back.

Now, he was my peer, and we could commiserate about the difficulty of being managers in this company, but he could no longer shield me. It was now up to me to stand up to the big shots and fight for my department.


2. I was working more overtime

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I already worked long hours with no overtime pay, but the expectations for overtime got higher once I got promoted. When there was a problem, my weekend was blown. I was never really off the clock. I needed to be there for the customer, at any time of the day, night, or weekend.


3. I didn’t get to make my own decisions

Just because I was now charged with managing people didn’t mean that I got to dictate exactly how my department worked. Sometimes, my decisions got overruled by upper management, and then the fallout from those decisions ended up being my problem.

I could foresee the problems and wanted to do things another way. But my management decisions had been micromanaged, and I still had to enforce upper management’s ideas all while keeping “my” employees under control and performing well. This conflict can make middle-management positions stressful and exhausting.


4. Coworkers undermined me

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When I was promoted to middle management, some of my peers criticised me and got in the way of projects. When another trusted employee whispers in the owner’s ear about you, it can be hard to get that negative impression out of the boss’s head. Suddenly, I needed to fight for my reputation.


5. No one trained me for my new role

Some big companies provide training to help workers move into a new role, but smaller companies usually don’t. I didn’t always feel competent enough to manage things, never having managed a department before.

I had many good leadership qualities – creativity, passion, and honesty – that helped me “fake it,” but I didn’t really know what I was doing half the time in terms of organising and managing. Some training or more support to negotiate new responsibilities might have helped.

Sometimes, a new job just doesn’t fit right, but you don’t always get to try on the new role before you take it. I was awesome at the job I had before the promotion, but I’d say I was mediocre at being a manager.

So consider the new position very carefully – if it doesn’t look like it will fit, consider passing up that promotion and waiting until the right position comes along. You may just be happier where you are!

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