There are so many things to consider before accepting a promotion. At times like these, it helps to organize your thoughts. But if you’re thinking “Should I accept for an internal promotion?”, where do you begin?
We’ve put together a comprehensive list of questions to ask when offered a promotion at work. Some are questions that you should ask your boss, and others you should ask yourself. They’re all important and can shed more light on whether the role is one you should take or not. So, let’s look at what they are, and find out whether you should take that step up the career ladder or not.
What to Say When Offered a Promotion by Your Boss
Being offered a promotion is one of the things in life that’s almost always a happy occasion. If you’ve just been offered one, it’s likely that you feel grateful, happy and excited but perhaps a little apprehensive.
It may be the case that you don’t want to take a promotion. Take a step back, and think: is this promotion going to be right for me? The best way to tell is by asking relevant questions of your line manager or director.
1) Will There Be a Pay Increase?
Why accept a promotion? What about a pay increase? If you were offered a promotion, how to ask for more money was probably the first thing on your mind. But it’s not a given that you’ll get a pay increase. And, if you do, it might not be much.
So before you shake hands with your boss, make it clear how much they expect to pay you and how much you think you’re worth. Let your boss know how hard you’ve been working, and what you earn relative to industry averages. Don’t stamp your feet and issue ultimatums, though, because these situations typically resolve in compromise—somewhere in the middle.
2) Are There Any Other Benefits?
As a corollary to the previous point, your new position might entitle you to certain perks. This could be anything from a company car to a parking space. Or, you might get to sit in on meetings with the company heads. If your boss doesn’t offer you benefits that other employees of the same level received, ask why, and make it clear that you’re worth it.
3) Will the Role Involve Different Duties?
One of the biggest reasons people regret taking promotion is because they weren’t ready for their new role. Because you’re being promoted internally, your boss might assume that you know exactly what the role entails. Of course, that’s not always the case.
Ask your boss to make it clear what the new role involves. Is it the same as what you’re doing already, but with more responsibility? Or is it something completely different? ‘Going in blind’ isn’t a wise option, after all.
4) What About Extra Duties?
A common tactic in big businesses is to ‘promote’ an employee and offer them a token raise. But even though the employee’s new job title sounds more important, it’s not. It was an excuse to pile more and more work on their desk. If your promotion involves everything your old job did plus several new duties, it might not be worth your time.
5) Will I Have to Relocate?
This is one of the critical questions to ask before accepting a management position. Moving up into the big leagues often involves relocation, sometimes to head office. This might be terrible news for you—what if you don’t want to move away from your family? On the other hand, one of the best reasons to accept a promotion is that you move to a new city you love. Ask your boss and find out more.
6) What’s the Long-Term Future of the Role?
The role may have been around for a while—or since the business began—but that doesn’t mean it will be around forever. Many factors like restructuring, mergers, and takeovers or budget cuts might mean that it’s not. Again, your boss might assume that you know this already. It’s best to be completely clear, and ask about the future of the role.
7) What Led to There Being an Opening?
There are many reasons why an opening might have come about, including:
- Maternity or paternity leave
- Promotion or demotion
- The employee moves to a different company
These factors can influence your success in your new job. For example, if employees who take the role frequently move to different companies, that’s a bad sign. It shows that, for whatever reason, the role isn’t enjoyable. However, if employees who take the role are consistently promoted, that’s an excellent sign. It means that you might move even further up the ladder if you play your cards right.
8) Is There Any Training Available?
A new role means new responsibilities and new daily tasks. It might also necessitate a different skill set or an expanded skill set. If you’re going to be taking on a range of new duties, which can be a problem. In addition to taking on more responsibility, you’ll also need to learn new things on the job. If that’s the case, there may be some training on offer.
Have a frank chat with your boss. Let them know that while you think you’re a good fit for the position, you could improve in specific areas. Ask if there are opportunities like internal or external training courses, or mentoring, that you could benefit from. They’ll appreciate your honesty and can point you in the right direction.
9) Will You Still Be My Boss?
It’s vital that you understand the chain of command you’ll be moving into. You may have a completely different boss—so what do you know about them? Have you worked with them before? Are they easy to get along with, or do they make everything more difficult? Asking your colleagues about the position and your potential boss could net you some insider info. You don’t want to a difficult boss.
At the same time, you might regret not working with your current boss anymore. You shouldn’t underestimate how much a fun colleague can make a workplace more bearable. Alternatively, if you don’t like working with your current boss, working under someone new could be a welcome change.
10) Who Will Be Reporting to Me?
If this is your first management role, what you might not know is that it’s critical to make a first impression on your new colleagues. On the one hand, you want to get along with them; on the other, you have to be able to show authority when necessary. Something that can prevent you hitting the ground running is if you don’t know who’s reporting to you.
Ask your boss what the management structure in your new position looks like. Who are you in charge of? Are you in charge of every aspect of their work or just some? And are there some people in the department on the same level as you? Knowing who you’re in charge of will avoid any unfortunate standoffs between you and your colleagues.
11) What’s My Immediate Focus?
Depending on the position, there may e an unfinished project you’re expected to lead. Understanding your responsibilities with regards to unfinished projects helps you get into the right mindset. After all, if you’re expecting a relatively quiet few weeks after you get started—but you’re faced with something big and scary that you’ve never worked on before—it can set the tone for the rest of your time in the position. Give yourself a head start by identifying what your immediate focus in the role will be.
12) What Are My Long-Term Goals?
Just as important are your long-term goals. You might not have been briefed before on what exactly the department is trying to achieve. This is normally the case if the new role is your first in management. Employees aren’t generally wholly in the dark. But you may not have previously appreciated the importance of something like cost-cutting measures, the need for more efficiency or the difficulties of expanding. That’s all set to change.
Ask your boss what you’re being hired to achieve. Do they expect continual improvements in a particular area, like employee turnover or faster completion of projects? Or do they want you to carry on somebody else’s great work? Managing expectations is incredibly important but often overlooked. Have a chat with your boss about what they expect, and what you feel you can realistically achieve.
13) How Will My Performance Be Measured?
If there are long-term goals you’re expected to achieve, how will you be measured against them? It could be on an ongoing basis, or it could be quarterly or yearly reviews. Knowing how often you’ll be measured will show you how much pressure you’re under.
So, for example, if you’re reviewed yearly, then you know you have a little slack after you start. You’re also more likely to be able to operate without intensive oversight. By contrast, if you’re reviewed on an ongoing basis, you’ll know that you’ll have to hit the ground running.
14) Where Can I Go From This Role?
It might be early—you haven’t even been promoted yet—but what further opportunities will your new role present? Career progression isn’t always linear. You might move from your current role to a different department, or to one in another business.
In other words, it’s not necessarily clear what the future holds for you if you do accept the promotion. Ask your boss what typically becomes of people who take on your new job. In particular, ask them where the previous employee who held your position went.
At this point, you’ve asked your boss everything you need to know. But it’s not just the thoughts of your boss that count. Even if the promotion seems like an excellent opportunity, it might not be right for you. So just as important are the questions that you have to ask yourself. Let’s take a look at what you should consider.
15) Does The Promotion Benefit You, Or The Business?
First off, you have to assess whether the promotion was offered because you’re fit for the job. It’s unfortunately common for a business to offer a promotion to ‘increase efficiency.’ In other words, you’ll end up with more work to do, but without the pay, you should be earning.
Now, this might not be particularly concerning to you. You might be perfectly happy taking a higher up position in return for working even harder. But if you notice that your responsibilities have doubled, but your pay has only gone up ever-so-slightly, that’s a bad sign. It shows that your employer isn’t genuinely interested in your career or well-being.
16) Would I Have Applied By Myself?
This is an excellent question to ask yourself. Being offered a promotion, no matter what kind of promotion it is exciting. It shows that you’re doing well in your job and that your efforts didn’t go unnoticed. But don’t let yourself be blinded by that feeling.
Take a step back, and consider whether it’s a position you would have applied for. So, for example, if you had seen it in a newspaper, would you have sent in your resume? If the idea of actually applying for the role gives you second thoughts, you should consider why that’s the case.
17) Do You Enjoy Working Where You Work?
This is a fairly obvious point, but do you like your workplace? You might enjoy what you do, and you might enjoy your new role even more. But there’s no point if you don’t like the business you work for. This isn’t going to change if you move higher up the ladder.
If anything, the business you work for becomes more and more important the higher up you are. That’s because you become a part of the system—the system that requires you to improve productivity no matter what or make tough decisions about people’s futures. So if you don’t enjoy doing that on behalf of your employer, don’t take the offer.
18) Do You Like Your Colleagues?
Here’s a similar point; do you like the people you work with? Having to work with people you don’t like isn’t just irritating. It genuinely affects your productivity and makes your working life a misery in the worst cases. The same applies if you don’t like your new colleagues.
19) Are You Qualified?
In the rush and excitement of being offered a promotion, you might not consider whether you’re qualified. It might be better for both you and your employer if you take on further qualifications first. The misunderstanding could be down to training you did in the past. You may have covered relevant topics in your training, but did you excel at them? Or could you do with more training?
20) Are You Prepared to Manage Others?
It’s not just qualifications that matter. You also have to feel mentally prepared for your new role. Take a man-management role, for example. You might be good at your job, but are you prepared to manage other people? Tell people what to do, when and why? If not, you won’t be comfortable in your new role.
This is a common problem with people who climb into management for the first time. Plenty of people don’t appreciate what it takes to manage others effectively.
You have to consider:
- Whether you’re comfortable telling others what to do
- Whether you’re comfortable reprimanding an employee for bad behavior
- Whether you’re comfortable being the face of your business
If not, then management isn’t for you.
21) Are You Happy Where You Live?
Deciding whether to move up the ladder isn’t just about liking the business you work for. It’s about liking where you live, too. There are all sorts of reasons you might like to move somewhere else: to live in a big city, to live somewhere in the countryside, to live with a new partner or to live closer to the family. By agreeing to a promotion, you would set back your moving plans.
The only exception is if you work for a business that allows transfers to different locations or branches. Big businesses, especially franchises, are great in that regard. So first, ask yourself whether the promotion is worth more than living where you’d like. But don’t forget to ask your boss whether relocation is on the negotiating table, too.
22) Will You Be Closer to Your Ideal Job?
Everyone has a dream job; one that they’d love to do more than anything in the world. For most children, that’s something like being an astronaut or a vet. But when you’re older, other things come into consideration. You might want to run your own business or work in high finance. What you have to think about is whether your potential promotion takes you closer to your dream job or not.
Think about the following:
- Whether your new position gives you valuable experience for your dream job
- Whether your dream job is just one or two promotions away from your new role
- Whether your dream job is out of reach unless you switch to a different career path
If you’re on the wrong career path entirely, it might be tempting to abandon ship and chase your dream. Think about whether finding your ideal job is something you’re likely to achieve. If it’s possible, then taking that promotion might be a step in the wrong direction.
23) Is the Position a Revolving Door?
If you didn’t know, a revolving door position is one where employees come and go regularly. In other words, there’s high employee turnover. There’s often a very good reason why this is the case. It could be that the position is a very stressful one. Or, it could be that recruitment isn’t optimal, and you might not be right for the job.
There’s no telling whether you’d survive or not. It’s a chance you might be willing to take: maybe you think you could be ‘the one’ to tame the job and own it. But, at the very least, think about whether you’d be better off staying in safer waters for the time being.
24) Could You Get a Better Offer Elsewhere?
Ever since the economic downturn ten years ago, employees have been reluctant to jump ship. This has led to wage rises growing slowly but offers for new employees becoming more attractive. With that being the case, it might be better for you to look for offers elsewhere.
Don’t get caught up in ideas of ‘loyalty’ and sticking by your employer no matter what. You might love where you work, but tough decisions are often worth taking. Scout around for similar offers at other businesses, and see what compensation and which perks you might be able to get. Not only does this open your eyes to new opportunities, but it gives you the upper hand in negotiation. That’s always a good thing.
25) Will the Position Upset My Work-Life Balance?
Last but not least, will your new role take up too much of your family time? If you’ve got a family around you that needs your attention, carefully consider whether there’s enough time in the day for you to take the promotion you’ve been offered.
The higher up the chain you go, the more responsibilities you have. This might mean working later, answering emails out-of-hours, or even being on-call. That might not work if, for example, you have a newborn baby in tow.
Our last piece of advice is this: do what you want. Take people’s advice, sure. But when it comes to decision-making time, there’s only one person who can decide what you want. That’s you. So, whatever you choose to do, do what makes you the happiest, and you can’t go wrong.
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