Promotion Issue

Dear Management Doctor,

I have worked in the same small, rural County Planning Department in Western NY (3 planning staff, 1 director and two support staff) for 15 years traveling up the ranks from intern, Planning Assistant (seasonal), Planning Assistant to Planner. I enjoy this department and this County.

As with many other Planning Departments, we are going through a bit of restructuring. The County is creating a Deputy Planning Director position (details being finalized), and I anticipate being promoted to that position. The Planner position will not be filled after I leave it, but there is a possibility that a part-time Planner will be brought on board to handle transportation projects. The rest of the staff will remain the same, and I will have the same office as I do now. My question concerns how to handle the internal promotion, which involves a change in duties and more supervision of the current staff – the Planning Director will be working on more regional projects and other County projects, and I will be tending the regular home front duties and operations. Any tips or tricks on how to make a successful transition and help the staff with the transition?


Hoping to be promoted


Dear Hoping,

It sounds like they will ask you to do all of your previous planner tasks plus new management and supervision tasks. Most managers in that position have trouble doing what they should be doing as a manager because they are bogged down with daily operational tasks. This could present you with some time management issues.

It sounds like you will basically be managing the staff while the Director is off doing other things. If this is the case, you would be managing only 2 planners and 2 support staff. This is a light management task, particularly since you have been there so long and should know the people, processes, plans and ordinances. You would be more like a working supervisor. I wouldn’t be surprised if you already informally work that way.

In any case here are a few ideas.

  1. Read one or more management books for first time managers. Look on the Internet and you will see many listed. For example, The First Time Manager, Belker, McCormick, Topchick.
  2. Get ideas on how to delegate. You can see some good articles I have written on the search engine on our website.
  3. Read or re-read my book, the ABZs of Planning Management.
  4. Be aware of something called “Promotion Jettison.” When people are promoted, they tend to hang onto prior jobs which they should Jettison so they can focus on the new assignments. In your case, this could be difficult.
  5. Get as much clarity as possible from the Director regarding expectations in the new job.

Congratulations in advance,
the Management Doctor

P.S. If I had to guess, they have created the new position to give you a raise, make you happy, and let the Planning Director not feel  so guilty about management and supervision tasks he or she may have been avoiding. Take it all as a compliment and carry on.