Moving up the ladder means managing your new role and status strategically – especially when it comes to your work friends.
It is a moment of great pride and satisfaction when leadership recognizes your hard work and promotes you to a new level within management. Now, you find yourself moving desk, changing titles, and accepting new responsibilities with a number of people reporting to you.
You’ve been waiting for this, and you’re ready to take on your new role.
At this point, your own gut instincts may tell you that the time has come to redefine and reevaluate the relationships you have with your coworkers to be more professional.
Around the same time, you can definitely expect emotional reactions within the team, as well. Your fellow colleagues will smile and congratulate you, but their minds will probably be racing with a certain thought: “My buddy is now my Manager. Now what?”
Oftentimes, colleagues also vie for the same position, and it’s possible that you got the job while your work friends, who may also be in contention, did not. When such a situation transpires at work, a lot of feelings come with it.
Others who wanted the position are disappointed, and you may find many peers you consider friends giving you the cold shoulder – or worse, giving you a tough time when you assign them work or follow up on projects.
Of course, it is difficult to be in this position, but you’re not alone. Now that you’re on the other side of the equation, you will need to learn how to command at the helm and become more authoritative.
Here are some tips on how to navigate this change in structure and manage your peers effectively:
Talk About It
Your peers are probably feeling as awkward about the move as you are. This is the time when being transparent will go a long way.
Acknowledge the restructuring of positions with your work friends and discuss how you plan on moving forward. It’s best to do this over a series on one-on-ones with each of your peers. Then, transition the discussion into finding out what’s on their minds. Ask them questions like,
“What challenges do you perceive for the company?”
“What opportunities do you anticipate, moving forward?”
“As a manager, what are the ways I can be helpful to you?”
Don’t make any promises during these conversations. In fact, the goal should be to learn as much as you can, so listen carefully to everything your peers say.
Not only will these one-on-one talks proactively help shift the relationship for both parties, it is a great way for you, as a manager, to understand what your peers really think about the company and its management.
Remove Yourself From the Casual Chit Chat
You’ll definitely miss the friendly and casual interactions you are used to with your peers – it will not be the same as it used to be before you moved to your new position.
However, it is important to realize at this stage that in order to adjust to your new role and be great at it, there are some things you’ll need to let go.
This doesn’t mean that you cut off communication. Rather, gradually wean yourself off from the overly casual conversations, especially those which are unrelated to work.
It is extremely important to create certain boundaries to suit your new role, and equally importantly, it will allow your team some privacy in their social lives.
Meanwhile it is important for you to amp your social life beyond the office. Go to lunch with your new managerial colleagues and get to know them better.
Establish the tone
Your promotion adds a significant weight of responsibility to your shoulders. As an authority figure, you will give performance reviews. You will provide constructive criticism and sign off on the pay raises of peers who were your lunch buddies not so long ago.
As a fellow peer, your demeanour with your friends may have been laid back, but now it is time to change your conduct to that of a manager in a leadership role. The tone you define will set the foundation of your new relationship with your team members.
Set a tone of open communication and respect. Make sure your team knows that you are there for them and that you want to help them succeed, but also make it clear that they can no longer vent to you or gossip with you as they may have done in the past.
Instead, centre your new relationship with your team around working together to find solutions and focus on employee happiness.
Don’t Stop Learning
You became a boss because you earned it through your attitude, hard work, and character. However, being a great boss is something that is learned, like any other skill. The most successful managers are the ones who work hard to learn the techniques that lead to a productive, positive team.
It is important to stay up-to-date with the latest management trends and approaches. Experience and know-how are what brought you to management, but being able to spot and practice trends within your industry and business in general is what will make you a great leader.
Learn how you can take your leadership teams through a growth model which will help them mature on a personal and professional level by following me on LinkedIn and subscribing to the Keijzer Community.
Paul Keijzer is the CEO and Founder of Engage Consulting and the co-Founder of The Talent Games, which aims to transform HR by digitising talent processes and creating more engaging and productive workplaces through gamification and mobile technology. As a global HR and Leadership Management expert, Paul knows how to combine business insights with people insights to transform organisations and put them on the path to growth.
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