Job Promotions; a cautionary tale


Job Promotions; a cautionary tale

  • By Ian Bradley
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The call came out of the blue from the secretary of a psychiatric director of a large and prestigious teaching hospital. The director wanted to see if I would be interested in applying for the recently vacated position of Chief Psychologist.

Until then, I had been working in a small CBT unit of what once had been the largest Anglophone mental hospital in Quebec. The hospital was the original clinical site in North America to administer the first effective medications (phenothiazines) to patients with schizophrenia. However, when I was working there, it had many of the stigmas associated with mental illnesses including many shuffling and pajama-clad patients in locked wards. The new job offer involved leading a department of psychology in a psychiatric division of a large general hospital with a respected tradition and prominent university affiliation. It was clearly a career advancement which, by the way turns out to be the primary driver for job change.

See the survey supporting that finding.

In my case, this call came over 30 years ago. Nonetheless, with a record number of workers changing jobs in this post-covid economy, I thought that I would cite several lessons from my own “promotion. “

Understand where you’re going.
I know it seems obvious, however many people switch into jobs where they have not fully investigated the demands, or equally important, not met the key people including co-workers or bosses. In my own case, I was totally unprepared for what was about to unfold.

I had little or no leadership training, no experience in managing people and my only budgeting experience was planning for family vacations. I remember my first day, sitting alone in my much larger office waiting for the phone to ring from someone who would tell me what it was I was supposed to do. Things only got better when I realized that there was no guiding mentor. And as I later discovered, even more dangerously, if that phone rang with a sudden urgency, it maybe wasn’t a prudent thing to confuse other people’s urgency with our own departmental goals. Eventually, I got on track after enrolling in management courses in Con-Ed, meeting the staff and understanding their issues, and in the process finding opportunities for growth and improvement.

I remained Chief Psychologist for over 25 years of successful accomplishments, however things would have been better for everyone if I understood the nature of the job before I applied.