Did you recently get promoted and need to manage your peers now?

It is a challenge! You feel the pressure to adjust to your new role and responsibilities and establish yourself fast. At the same time, you need to recalibrate your relationships with your former peers. You will soon determine the work allocation, share performance feedback, and weigh in on bonuses and pay hikes of people you used to share office gossip with, in the past. You cannot be a boss and a pal. The tone of your relationships needs to be adjusted.  

It is a complicated transition that needs to be handled with sensitivity, openness, and transparency. Here are a few tips – 

  1. Realign the boundaries. You may have had lunch with the same friends every day in the past, but now you need to make yourself equally accessible to all teammates. You need to set new boundaries and avoid the appearance of playing favorites. You will need to manage confidentiality and share information on a need-to-know basis, even with people you were close friends with. The change may feel awkward initially but being upfront about it and acknowledging it, will allow new protocols to be established. As you talk to the team, accept that things will change, you will miss hanging out with them, and your decisions will be based on what is good for the organization. Openly seek their help to meet team objectives, offer support for their success, and keep lines of communication open for all team members.
  2. Use your knowledge of your peers as you decide on work allocation.Have them weigh in on the kind of work they would like to take on. Assign projects based on their strengths and interest areas. If they are excited about their work, they will give it their best. 
  3. Connect with people as a team and one on one as soon as your new role is announced. Use these meetings to share your vision, how you plan to approach your role, and establish authority. Share team goals, set expectations, and seek their support. Be warm, humble, authentic, and open. Demonstrate interest, ask questions to understand what is important to them, and know their concerns. Follow your words with action soon after the meeting.
  4. Deal with the disappointed member. Some of your team members may have competed with you for the role and may be disappointed or even resentful of you at the moment, for having lost to you. They may need some time to adjust. They will also need the same assurance of your support for their success as other team members. If they are non-cooperative or passive-aggressive, engage them in an open and direct conversation. Give them a chance to voice their concerns and ask what they need to collaborate and be happy in their roles.  Recognize that your best efforts may not be enough to make them comfortable with your leadership and they may choose/need to leave. 

Your transition from peer to the leader will not happen overnight. Prepare for the change intentionally. Think about the leadership behaviors that you need to succeed in your new role and reflect every day on how you are displaying them at work. 

You may also consider ‘executive coaching’ to facilitate your transition to your new role. Connect with me to know how I can help.

PS – This write up was first published on LinkedIn as a part of the Your Career Matters series.