4T Approach to Taking on a Promotion at Work

One of the best emails I can get is a past student telling me about a promotion and asking for advice on how to prepare. I closed my most recent reply to a recent graduate with thanks for the chance to think this through. Here is a generalized version of my reply — taking on a Thinking in 4T approach.

Thinking in 4T means starting with your target/goal and then considering how best to leverage among your available talent (your own and others, acknowledging the social aspects of the situation), technology (everything from office design to artificial intelligence), and technique (practices and methods).


What does your new position need of you in the first month and months? Is the ship underway and headed in a good direction? If not, be thinking about how much time your new team and you need for diagnosis. Even if the direction seems to be a good one, what will you need to do to be sure it remains the right direction or when it will be time to reassess? (Books covering the first 90-100 days of a new job.)


There are many ways to approach Talent: Your own knowledge, skills, and abilities; those of your team; those you might need to add to your team. Perhaps first of these is how to mesh your own talent with that of your new team. Key here is that this team will be a new one just given you’ve joined it. Every time the membership of a team changes, the transactive memory of that team shifts. Transactive memory is the knowledge of who knows what, who needs what information, and how to coordinate across the members given this knowledge. (For more detail/examples of transactive memory, click here.)


Newcomers’ Fresh Perspective  Photo by  Venveo  on  Unsplash

Newcomers’ Fresh Perspective

Photo by Venveo on Unsplash

We are in an excellent position to see opportunities to make improvements in technique when we are newcomers. At the same time, we need to be sure that we understand the nuances of the situation and don’t come barging in like a bull in a china shop. In my book, The Plugged-In Manager, I take a strong stance on the value of negotiation approaches for managing change and conflict across the board. The negotiation approach highlights the needs of all the stakeholders and is a great way to keep the richness of the situation top of mind.

If you can take an exec multi-day course (e.g., Stanford, Kellogg, Wharton - we offer superb custom corporate versions at Santa Clara University) on negotiation I think you’d find it valuable. The courses are even more valuable if you think about the techniques beyond the traditional negotiation context (e.g., apply the models to change management).

Technique can also apply to how you stay abreast of new ways of doing things. Business publications like Laszlo Bock’s book, Work Rules! describing the people operations role at Google is interesting (and data focused). Find some execs you admire who are active on social media — take everything with a grain of salt, but this approach offers great for triggers for your own ideas. You also might want to be looking for a small (!) professional group that meets once a quarter or so. Great for networking and, again, triggering your own ideas.

Promotions and Happy New Year!

May we all have great outcomes in our work this New Year. Congratulations to my student who prompted this post and all his colleagues on their graduation. Some of you know that sharing is the third practice of a Plugged-In Manager -- please share your advice here or let us know how you’ve applied any ideas similar to these.