What if your manager changes just before promotion?
Josh has been waiting for his promotion for two years now. Last year he was devastated when did not get his promotion. He remembers how difficult it was for him to accept the situation. However, he had found the courage to discuss with his manager and set clear expectations for this year. Having worked hard on exceeding on all the parameters, he was very hopeful. He was crestfallen when he learned that a new manager would take over just before the promotion recommendations were to go in. All his hard work of the last year seemed to be in vain now. The new manager was a stranger and was not likely to make a promotion recommendation for him.
This situation can happen to anyone. How would you come out of this tough scenario? I have a few recommendations for you.
- Be ready with documentation: The first thing you need for any discussions with various stakeholders is a collection of facts and figures that support your claim about exceeding all the expectations that were set by your current manager for your promotion. If the expectations were documented in the annual target setting process, it will be great. It will be awesome if your progress has been tracked in the system and it reflects your performance. If not, you must document stuff and get an email acknowledgement from your current manager.
- Joint conversation with both Managers: You may not get it till you ask for it. You can ask for a joint conversation. The current manager can put in a strong recommendation to the new manager. It will be great if you can get both the managers together and share your concerns. You need to make sure that your current manager shares with the new one, the agreements regarding your promotion and acknowledges that you have met all the requirements. You may have to work with your current manager first to make sure that he/she believes that you indeed deserve the promotion. In case you cannot get both of them together, it will be important for you to make sure that your current manager writes an email/note of recommendation to the incoming manager.
- Conversation with the skip level Manager: Your manager’s manager has a big role during the transition. Most likely the new manager will seek feedback and guidance from his/her own manager before making any recommendations. I believe it will be great if you can get your current manager to close the loop with your skip Manager and put in a clear recommendation about your promotion. It will be great if you can also get some time to speak with the skip level manager and seek his assurances on your promotion.
- Speak to the other stakeholders and get their buy in: Normally the promotion will not be one person’s decision, even if your manager has the largest stake in the process. The HR business partner will surely be a part of the process. It is their responsibility to make sure that the ball is not dropped because of change of management. Then there are other stakeholders, who have benefitted from the exceptional work that you did this year. They do not want you to be demotivated. You need to reach out to them to seek their support. Your new manager will be meeting with all the stakeholders as part of the orientation, so it will be great if they can say a few good things about your work. If they can put in a good word about you, that will be great.
- Lastly, build a real connect with your new Manager: You will be working with your new manager for years to come. And you are dependent on each other for mutual success. You need to connect with him/her at a deeper level, not only for the sake of the imminent promotion. Understand from the manager’s perspective, how you can make him/her successful. Make sure that he/she knows that you will extend your full support. Share with him/her the projects that you are involved in and share the initiatives that you are undertaking. Seek his/her thoughts and ideas and adjust your actions to his/her vision. Seek his/her support for your promotion and ask would he/she need to know more for appraising your case.
If you do all this, I believe you will not only get the promotion you very much deserve, you will also be able to build a stronger network for continued success.