5 Simple Rules for Newly Promoted Hazmat Officers

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Taking on a new position and moving up the ranks can be a massive milestone, but the excitement can sometimes get overshadowed by feelings of uncertainty. Did your Department make a hiring mistake? Can you actually handle your new responsibility?

Just remember that you’re far from alone in these thoughts. Especially early on in your promotion, it can seem like an endless battle to push through those uncomfortable feelings. These 5 tips can help you build your confidence and succeed.

Rules to Help Newly Promoted Officers Succeed

1. Leave your ego at the door.

When a promotion suddenly places you above colleagues who were your peers, things can understandably get a little awkward. You want to prove that you deserve your newfound position of influence, but it’s important to remember that your new title doesn’t automatically come with instant leadership qualities and respect.

The best thing you can do is approach your new role with a humble attitude, a learning mindset, and an open mind. You were promoted because your Chiefs saw potential in you, but that doesn’t mean you know everything or that everyone below you somehow knows less. In fact, the best leaders understand that they aren’t always the smartest person in the room.

2. Give yourself a self-evaluation.

Before you can begin to truly thrive in your new role, you need to take stock of where your leadership skills currently stand. Most people think they have a better understanding of their own abilities than they actually do, and this can be a big problem for new leaders.

So how can you overcome this unconscious bias and take a good hard look at your skill level? Start by asking yourself what aspects of your new role seem the most unnatural to you. Avoid passing judgement on yourself. Identifying where you feel insecure or less confident is an effective way to get a better understanding of the boundaries of your comfort zone and where you need to improve.

3. Decide what type of leader you aspire to be.

As a new officer you might feel like you suffer from a lack of clear direction. You have a list of responsibilities that need to be fulfilled, but no one is standing over your shoulder telling you exactly how you’re supposed to do it. This can be a scary realization, but it’s useful to keep in mind that you’re not the first person to go through this, and you can leverage the experiences of others who came before you.

Identify a leader at your agency whom you admire, and ask yourself what qualities make them such an enviable leader. Consider asking them to coffee or lunch to pick their brain and discuss the challenges they overcame early on in their tenure.

4.Understand that the big picture is about your team.

It’s easy to forget in the midst of your own transition that your Hazmat team is undergoing a transition as well: They’re getting used to a new leader, who they may not be very familiar with.

Don’t try to force your authority. Give your new team the opportunity to get to know you and adapt without pressure. If possible, set up one-on-one meetings with your team members as soon as possible to learn more about their individual responsibilities, their concerns for the future, and what they need from you to be successful.

5. Learn to accept discomfort.

Maybe all emergency response job descriptions should tack on this bullet point: “Must be comfortable being uncomfortable.” By the very nature of their position, officers are dropped into uncomfortable situations on a daily basis. Whether it’s giving tough feedback, making cutbacks, or standing by unpopular decisions, get used to it, it’s now part of your profession.

Part of growing into a leadership role is learning to manage discomfort and do what’s needed for the agency.

Organizational change is always a difficult time in any organization. Here in D4H Technologies we pride ourselves in supporting change management as new users approach transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations over to using our software solutions.

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