How to Manage Your Former Peers

13 Mar 2024 • 12 min • EN
12 min
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Here’s the scenario: You’ve been promoted in your current unit. You are now managing people who used to be your peers – at least one of whom may have also applied for the promotion.   How do you transition from a colleague to a manager? This can happen as you move from an individual contributor to a first-time manager, or from a manager to a director or senior manager. You could also become a VP and start managing your former director colleagues.   In short, this scenario can happen at any level.   As I researched this topic, many of the resources I looked at gave rather generic advice – in other words, here are the things any manager should do in a new role. I wanted to give you advice specific to leading those you used to work alongside, so here are my nine suggestions. I used and to help me with this episode.     Let’s start off with why it is important to start this new role off on the right foot. You want to avoid, as much as possible, negative feelings (“why did SHE get the role and not me?” or “HE didn’t deserve this promotion as much as XXX did”)   You want to maintain what has, hopefully, been a positive professional relationship and earn their trust and respect. You may not immediately be afforded trust and respect – it’s yours to EARN.   #1. Be humble. This can work both ways – you can choose to brag about the promotion or you can choose to beat yourself up when you make a rookie mistake. Neither of these approaches will serve you.   Acknowledge the promotion when someone else brings it up, but don’t boast. Also, recognize that you WILL make mistakes – and that those mistakes are a necessary ingredient in your success.   Unfortunately, some people may revel in your mistakes – even sabotage you. Address these situations appropriately as soon as possible – they are workplace cancers.     #2. Acknowledge the shift – and the awkwardness. It’s up to you to acknowledge the change between yourself and your former peers – bring it out in the open and acknowledge that it may feel awkward at first.   Your professional relationships WILL change now – pretending anything else won’t serve you or your team.   Bring the shift out into the open and allow time for the transition.     #3. Be transparent. Setting clear expectations for each team member, and for the team as a whole, is important. Lay out your goals and the changes you want to implement and be open to hearing their feedback.     #4. Set clear boundaries. Friendships previously formed may need to change. After-hours activities may no longer include you. You’ll need to set clear boundaries and recognize that your team may need to do the same.     #5. Don’t pick favorites. It can be tempting to show favoritism towards a team member who was your friend. Remember: Now you are making decisions based on what is best for the team and your unit – not who you like the most.   Your goal should be to make sure everyone is treated fairly, regardless of their relationships with you prior to the promotion.     #6. Recognize the change in dynamic. If you previously vented work frustrations or joked about company or department policies with your peers, you now want to set a professional tone with your team.   You’ll be under more scrutiny as a manager and you don’t want to get a reputation as not being a loyal member of management. Lead by example – with a high level of integrity.     #7. Set clear expectations. One of your primary goals as a manager is to ensure your team members know what is expected of them and they have the tools to be successful.   Make sure you set clear expectations around what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of work quality, adhering to deadlines, and other important issues.   And piggy-backing on #4 – Don’t Pick Favorites – make sure the expectations you set apply equally to everyone, as do the consequences of not meeting those expectations.     #8. Schedule regular 1:1s. Regular 1:1s with each member of your team will help ensure you are on top of each person’s progress and development, allow you to address any concerns or issues quickly, and help keep everyone on the same page relative to goals and objectives.     #9. Ask for help. At whatever level you are rising to, there are a multitude of trainings out there – from online courses to in-person seminars and even certifications. If you feel you need training to help you succeed in this transition – ask for it.   Along those lines, ask for a mentor(s).   Here’s a quote from the website:   “A new boss who tries to remain "one of the team" can end up frustrating everyone. When you're more concerned about friendships than results, poor decisions are usually inevitable. If you're afraid of being called "bossy," you may not hold people accountable, or you may avoid making unpopular decisions.”   The bottom line can be summed up as follows:   -It’s not going to be the same – don’t try to make it be the same.   -Don’t expect automatic trust and respect – you’ll have to earn it.   -Set clear expectations – and make them consistent for all team members.   -Lead by example – your professionalism will help earn the trust and respect you want.   -Ask for help – whether training, a mentor, or other assistance to set yourself up for success.     Are you in the wrong job that chips away at you every day? The document and coaching programs offered by Exclusive Career Coaching will help you find a job that uses your zone of genius, recognizes your value, and pays you what you’re worth.   If you’re ready to take your job search to the next level by working with a highly experienced professional with a track record of client success, schedule a complimentary consult to learn more:      

From "The Exclusive Career Coach"

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