Learn what you should do first when faced with the challenge of managing former peers.
- [Woman] A client once told me, "I used to be really good "friends with everyone in the department, but then I got "promoted to management. Now, I feel like I have a target "on my back and that everyone is waiting "for me to make a mistake. "They're having a tough time accepting my promotion and, if the truth be known, so am I." One of the more challenging career situations I've coached people through, and have been through myself is managing a group of people who used to be your peers.
As my client found out, going from a peer who perviously dissed their manager, to becoming the person others are now talking about can be stressful. Relationships change based on juxtaposition. Yesterdays lunch buddy may now be one of your most challenging employees. Let me share some tips with you on how to smooth the transition from peer to boss. First, hit the reset button.
Now that you're in charge, you'll need to recalibrate your relationships. I find the best way to do this, is to hold one on one meetings with everyone you manage. Use this opportunity to set expectations, and let your people know that what's been said in the past stays in the past. Moving forward, you'll need to explain that you'll no longer be able to keep their confidence on particular matters like you did when you were a peer.
Say team members used to talk about recent job interviews that they went on. A gentle reminder that you'll no longer be able to keep this type of information confidential would be appropriate. Especially if their departure will have a negative impact on the group you are supervising, and the company. Second, clear the air. There's a good chance that someone else on the team applied for the job you were just awarded.
No doubt, there's some disappointment going on. Ask each team member how they feel about the transition. Acknowledge disappointment, and set the stage for moving forward. Third, power up gently. I recently had a leader ask me to coach a new supervisor who's foot was stuck on the accelerator. He was powering through with little regard to whom he was taking out along the way.
When stepping into the newly promoted drivers seat it's best to pull out slowly. Until you've got enough momentum to safely maneuver around the organization. After all, you don't want to make the deadly mistake of asserting you're authority too harshly. Or, running over your peers as if they're nothing more than roadkill. Finally, distance yourself.
You'll need to distance yourself from your former peers, which may feel like a lousy deal. You don't have to go cold turkey. You can accept an invitation to join the team at happy hour. As long as you excuse yourself after you've had one drink. Otherwise, you'll regret a lot more than a hangover the next morning. Managing former peers, may be one of the biggest challenges you'll have to overcome as a leader.
Keep in mind, that relationships change based on juxtaposition. Which means you'll need to immediately hit the reset button. Clear the air. And power up gently. Until such time as you are confident, that you can safely navigate this new terrain.
- The first 90 days
- Building productive relationships
- Why engage your employees?
- Influencing employee commitment
- Managing your former peers
- How to go from friend to boss
- Developing the skills needed to be an effective manager
- Becoming a magnetic leader