9 Critical Pieces of Advice for People Who Find Themselves Managing Their Former Peers
Generally, getting a promotion is great. You’ll face new challenges, gain a better status and, of course, make more money. But it’s no all sunshine — especially when you end up in charge of your teammates who were, up until yesterday, on equal footing with you. This situation can create feelings of jealousy, awkwardness, and even resentment among some team members.
When you’re promoted above your peers, one of your first tasks will be finding a way to manage this uncomfortable shift in power — otherwise, the team could go down in flames. To help you do just that, here are nine critical pieces of advice:
1. Communicate Your Status Change
Either HR or your boss should circulate an email to the team, clearly outlining your change in status from team member to manager. Such an email should help solidify your new spot in the management hierarchy, even among psychologically resistant team members.
2. Make Your Qualifications Clear
The email memo mentioned above should also outline the key factors that make you perfect for the role, and it should offer a ringing endorsement of your new role from a key influencer. You’ll be more credible in your new role if your former peers see that you are qualified, capable, and supported by organizational leadership.
3. Talk With Your Predecessor
The previous team manager will be a font of knowledge about how to get the most out of your team. Talk to the former manager to find out what worked and what didn’t work in terms of staff motivation. If you know what your team wants and needs — and then follow through on those wants and needs – you’ll go a long way toward eroding any negative feelings about your new position. Show the team that you’ll be a good manager, and you’ll win many of the members to your side.
4. Establish Your Authority Carefully
Arrange a team meeting as soon as you can after being promoted. Doing so will subtly send the message that you are now in a role of authority.
Make sure to communicate a clear agenda for this meeting. A good idea is to focus this first meeting on planning for the next 60 days. Include time for a team Q&A about your new role, too.
Calling a meeting and taking charge of the meeting both signal that things have changed: you are now in charge, and you will be setting the team’s objectives going forward.
5. Set Goals and Objectives for Each Team Member
In your first team meeting, mention that you will be meeting with each team member individually to answer their private questions, review their current status, set their goals for the next 60 days. Give each team member a clear focus. Doing so will show them that you are invested in their success.
6. Show the Team That You Can Provide Them With Support and Resources
Being a good boss isn’t just about cracking the whip. A good way to overcome any lingering resentment regarding your promotion is to show the team that you will fight in its corner.
After setting goals, ask team members about the kinds of support they would like, and then provide that support. what support they would like, and provide it. Showing you have the power to provide them with resources is an effective way to establish trust and authority with your former teammates.
7. Don’t Make Any Sweeping Changes in the First Week
Doing so will only alienate your already anxious team. Let the team know that you want to hear from everyone. Gather everyone’s thoughts and hear their frustrations. Only after you have spoken to everyone and conducted a full review of operations should you formulate a new plan for the department. If you take these steps, your team will feel more stable and more engaged.
8. Strike a Balance Between Professional Distance and Close Friendship
It may be hard to continue some of the close relationships that you had with team members now that you are the boss. People may see your friendships as instances of favoritism, and that can negatively impact the staff’s morale.
You have two options here. On the one hand, you can avoid accusations of favoritism by socializing less with your friends on the team. Or, you can take the opposite approach: include the whole team in anything you do with your friends on the team. Either way, the goal is to make sure that your team members know they all have equal access to you.
9. Lead by Example
Now that you are the leader, your former teammates will start taking cues from you, especially in terms of mood. Research shows that when leaders are positive, team members are also more positive and effective. A good way to get disgruntled team members back on your side, then, is to be outwardly positive and enthusiastic.
Some team members may simply be unable to accept the fact that you have been promoted above them and are now their boss. Ultimately, that is their problem. If you follow these steps, you can be sure that you have created as hospitable and engaging an environment as you can for them. If that is not good enough for some people, it may be time for them to leave.