New Levels, New Devils: 5 Steps For Beating Burnout After A Promotion

Young female entrepreneur talking with colleagues in office boardroom. Male and female professionals discussing in meeting at office.

You did it! You got the promotion. You took initiative to gain new certifications, raised your hand for assignments, and ran the race to reach this goal. And here you are — new office, new role, new title, who dis? But now, six months in, the shiny newness has worn off. You’re feeling disenchanted, frustrated, and frankly burned out. You worked hard to get here, but it’s not giving what you thought it would give. 

If this is you, you’re definitely not alone. According to an ADP report, nearly 30% of employees resign within a month of being promoted. The reasons are multifaceted; increased workloads and psychological pressure often lead to burnout, especially when the new role doesn’t align with an individual’s interests or strengths. Dr. Patricia Anderson, a professor at the Forbes School of Business & Technology, adds context. “Sometimes it’s based on external factors, but sometimes the fear comes from knowing you’re not quite there; your character hasn’t caught up with the demands of the position or title,” she said in a previous interview with ESSENCE. 

New levels, new devils — it’s a tale as old as time. But just because a new role is initially uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s not a fit. Resilience comes from overcoming challenges and quitting too soon may hinder personal and professional development. Certainly, there are instances when it’s wise to move on, but if giving up at this juncture doesn’t feel quite right take a look at these common challenges new managers often face, and consider incorporating these five strategies to navigate this difficult stage without burning out.

Building Trust: Dealing with Workplace Resentment 

Transitioning from a frontline role to a management position means navigating some tricky new dynamics. Managing a team you once worked alongside may trigger resentment among your former peers. The goodwill earned in your previous role may not translate into your new one but try not to take it personally.

It’s your responsibility to build trust. You do that by demonstrating reliability, consistency, and fairness; setting clear boundaries as you go. Be open to feedback and invest in the success of your team. Once they see that you’re genuinely invested in their professional development, they’ll prioritize the team’s overarching goals.  Respect and loyalty begets the same. To be sure, they’ll be some for whom no amount of effort will gain their buy-in, but focus on what you can control. Be kind and compassionate but also firm. The rest tends to work itself out.

A Strategic Shift: Going From Doer to Delegator

Transitioning from a frontline role to a management position requires a significant shift in mindset and skill set. Frontline employees are rewarded for their ability to “do” the job efficiently. However, in a management role, success is tied to the ability to effectively delegate.  

Learning to work through others is a critical leadership skill. It involves trusting your team members with responsibilities, empowering them to take ownership, and providing guidance and support when needed. While it may initially feel like letting go of control, effective delegation will not only free you from excessive workloads but also allows team members to develop their skills and grow professionally.

Embrace Constructive Criticism

When trying on a new role, critique can feel overwhelming, but embracing feedback is crucial to refining your performance and fostering solid relationships from the start. 

In your insecure, early stages of development, your knee-jerk reaction when an issue is called out, may be to justify your methods, deflect from the point, or shift blame elsewhere. Before you react, take a beat to process your feelings. Listen actively to understand the perspectives and insights shared by colleagues and superiors. Try and remember, critiques aren’t personal attacks but opportunities for improvement. 

Here’s how to use constructive feedback to your advantage: Transfer it into actionable steps and develop a plan to address identified areas in need of improvement. In time, your ability to apply feedback and improve will show up in your output. Also, emotional intelligence is a soft skill that goes a long way in the workplace and beyond. 

Guided Growth: Forging Meaningful Mentorship

Actively seeking a mentor-mentee relationship can significantly shape your career trajectory. When identifying potential mentors, target individuals with experience in your specific role or industry who are willing to share wisdom and offer constructive advice. It’s important to approach the relationship with genuine interest and humility. Your mentor should never be more invested than you.

To get the best out of mentorship, establish concrete goals, keep your mentor updated on your progress, and be sure to let them know when their implemented advice results in a win. This approach ensures a meaningful,  impactful, reciprocal mentorship experience.

Embrace The Grind 

Setting realistic expectations is critical. It’s important to understand that work-life balance isn’t always an option, particularly in the early stages of learning a new skill. Understanding that the grind season is a temporary phase empowers you to approach the challenges with a focused mindset, knowing that balance and equilibrium will become more achievable as you navigate the learning curve.

Accepting a promotion is great, but excelling in a new, more expansive role will require resilience, adaptability, and a proactive mindset. However, staying the course, despite challenges, may reveal a tenacity you didn’t know you had and lead to a more fulfilling career in the long run. 

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