How to Manage Former Peers Without It Being Awkward

So you got the promotion you wanted, congratulations! You’re confident in your abilities, you’re excited by the challenge, but are you prepared for your relationship with your former peers to completely change?

This is one side effect of promotion where new leaders are often unprepared. Your colleagues and friends now look at you from a different perspective, the relationship has to change. Here are three steps to help smooth the transition from peer to manager.

Own the Role

The chances are you’re replacing your own former manager, but don’t try to copy their style however much you may have admired them.  The role is yours now, so own it. Hopefully, you will have already earned the trust or your colleagues, so now is the time to earn their respect as their leader. Bring your own leadership style to the role, even if you’re still discovering what your unique style may be, and start as you mean to go on.

Set Expectations

Make time early on to arrange a one to one with everybody on your team.  Be clear on your expectations and be open about how your own priorities and responsibilities have changed, and listen to the challenges and concerns of each team member. Bring everyone together as often as possible and develop a team culture of open conversations. Your schedule may be busy but try to be available as much as you can, give people a chance to connect with you in your new role. You may have a different way of doing things to the previous leader, but encourage everyone in the team to contribute as you find your new way of achieving your goals together.

Allow Your Relationships to Evolve

Accept that your relationships will change, but allow your personality to show up in your leadership and learn to adapt to the changes together. Be authentic, honest and open, while maintaining a focus on achieving the team goals. You may need to re-establish boundaries from time to time, but remember it’s a period of adjustment for your team too. 

Finally, get support as you settle into your new role and develop your leadership skills. Work with a coach or mentor, and give yourself permission to make mistakes as you learn and grow.

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