Questions to ask before a promotion

Dear Joan:
I have been second in charge in my department for several years as a Coordinator.  I have been told by my current boss that he is going to be “retiring” from his position and that he would expect that I will be asked to step into his position by management. 
I found out that my boss had discussed with management staying on in a case management role after his “retirement.” There have been some discussions in other departments that a Director is going to be hired to manage several departments in the hospital, including my department.  This information has not been officially divulged to my department however. 
I have been asked to meet with the VP over my department.  I have not been told what this meeting will entail but I know that I would not be considered for this supposed Director position.  I am anticipating that I will be asked to either become the manager in my department (with different responsibilities than my past manager held) and report to the director, or remain as a Coordinator, with additional responsibilities and report to the Director.
I would like to know some very specific questions that I should ask, so that I get a more complete understanding of what is going to be asked of me in the future.  Also, I would like some advice regarding an increase in pay to compensate for the additional responsibilities.
Congratulations on being a valued employee who is in the running for a promotion. No matter what the reorganization brings, it sounds as if there are more responsibilities coming your way.
I know you want a “complete understanding” about what you will be asked to do, but the VP may not know the answers yet. His meeting with you may be to help flesh that out. He may be wondering what you are interested in, so he can factor that into the final reorganization. He may also want to manage your expectations, in the event your role may be different than you thought.
Here are some questions that may be helpful, whether you are promoted to manager, or stay in the coordinator role: 
  • What results are you trying to achieve with the new alignment of responsibilities in the department?
  • What would you like me to focus on in the first six months/year?
  • What do you think the department is currently doing well?
  •  Are there any areas you have a concern about?
  • Here are the areas I have a question/concern about…..
  • Are there any people/performance issues you’d like me to address? (Or, brief him on what you think.)
  • Are there any projects that you want me to undertake? (Or propose some.)
  • Are there any new committees/meetings I will be a part of?
  • What outcomes will be expected from the new Director?
  • Who do you recommend I partner with more closely?
  • Who can I use as a support person for administrative assistance?
  • Do my benefits and compensation change?
Be prepared for some ambiguity as these positions evolve. If this reorganization is like most I’ve seen, no one will know exactly who will be doing what, until they have been in their roles for a while. In fact, sometimes there is no pay increase until things shake out.
I encourage you to be open to trying something new, without an exact job description, as long as he is willing to let you shape it yourself. Keep your questions focused on how you can add value, rather than what the company is going to do for you. The same is true for pay. If the increase isn’t what you hoped for, ask for a salary review in six months, after you have had a chance to show what you can do. While you need to advocate for yourself, being demanding now may cost you in the long run. If you take the new job and run with it, rewards will follow. Good luck!

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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