The dark side of being promoted can be the trials you may face when suddenly stepping up and managing your former peers and teammates. A fundamental change in the balance of workplace relationships occurs, and this can lead to you feeling isolated and alienated. It may even lead to a loss of friendships.
To help those workers who may be considering a promotion ahead of their peers or who are having difficulty managing their former peers following a promotion, I have set out some tips and pointers:.
1. Ensure the Change in Status Is Communicated
This may not be entirely under your control, but ensure that your promotion to head of the team is publicly justified, endorsed, and communicated by your manager and other senior decision-makers. This will help to address any confusion or misunderstanding that could put a dark cloud over your appointment and undermine your authority. It must be made clear to all that the organization is giving you authority to act. In the army, you get a stripe — but I accept it doesn’t work quite that way in the corporate world!
2. Have a Relaxed Q&A With the Team
Being put in charge of former teammates causes a shift in the balance of power and may create tension. You’ll want to address this head on. Why not arrange a relaxed team meeting, perhaps a working lunch in a neutral setting? At the meeting, you can acknowledge the awkwardness and perhaps preempt questions about how things will change. You should also take time to hear employee concerns and answer any questions they may raise.
It is important to let team members know that there will be no sudden changes. You should prep them for change by telling them that you will take time to patiently assess the situation over the next month or so. Give everyone an opportunity to have their say and let their concerns be known. Afterward, you can communicate your new team vision.
3. Where Fools Rush In…
Research from McKinsey & Co. shows that the most effective new team leaders take about 1-2 months to survey the territory, answer questions, understand the challenges, talk to stakeholders, and so on. This gives them a detailed and thorough understanding of the situation.
At the end of this study period, you should have an idea of what steps need to be taken to build team cohesion — e.g., perhaps three team members are cooperating, one is ambivalent, and one is resisting and spreading negativity, meaning you need to reinforce certain behaviors and discourage others.
4. EstablishYour Authority
Over the first two months, you’ll need to start establishing your authority by creating some distance between you and the team. You can’t be as chummy as before, because doing so would undermine your authority.
5. Dress Differently
Shallow as it sounds, one of the simplest steps may be to start dressing more formally. If managers wear suits to distinguish themselves, you should start doing the same. This will lead others to perceive you as a manager as well.
6. Change the Way You Associate With Your Team Members
You may need to change the way you associate with your former teammates. For example, you clearly can’t gossip with them about other teammates or managers. In turn, you’ll probably want to spend more time socializing with other managers to help build that managerial distance and to give yourself a new support network.
7. Behave Like a Manager
This includes outlining your team vision and managerial style. Spend time interviewing team members to understand what their preferred managerial style is. Try to tailor your managerial approach to suit the individual as much as you can. People will see you as a skilled and effective manager, which will help to highlight your authority.
8. Be Decisive
At the right time, you’ll need to show that you can be decisive. For example, if a frustrated team member refuses to come around and is being disruptive you may need to take swift and decisive action — which could involve dismissal.
It is perfectly possible to effectively manage former teammates. It can be a rocky road, but following these tips can help to smooth the way.