Peer to manager transition – Becoming a boss to your former peers


Congratulations on the promotion! Now comes the tough part of becoming boss to your former peers.

Contrary to what many people believe, becoming your peers’ boss isn’t the end of your existing relationship.

Let’s take a step back and look at the situation. Supposing you are good at what you do, you’ve earned the promotion fair and square, and the management believes that you can be a leader, so why should you fear rising up to the role of a manager?

The mindset that you take into this new role is extremely important. As a team leader, your job is to manage the people on your team. You draw the big picture, break it down into smaller, achievable goals, delegate the jobs to your team and make sure everyone is on time and on target. Your role as the boss is to ensure that no one gets distracted by their personal agenda.

The 5 guidelines below should help guide you through the initial awkwardness of peer to manager transition:

Tread lightly at the beginning

It’s probably an exciting transition for you and you’re raring to go with new ideas and initiatives. But it’ll be best to not introduce any major overhauls right away. Demonstrate your new authority discreetly and try to not make any big decisions right from the start that might make people jumpy or upset. Get a sense of how things are before you implement what you believe to be fair for the team.

Aim to be fair, not popular

When leading a team discussion, take personal relationships out of the picture. Do not ham or hew or unabashedly seek for support or approval. You are the boss! Your team is looking to you for direction and guidance. The last thing they want is a boss that changes his mind because “someone made a face”.

Lead by example

Often, it’s not about your peers being jealous of your promotion. It’s about proving to them that you are deserving of it. Don’t start coming into the office late, sending people out to run your personal errands, or expecting others to cover up for your tardiness. If you expect your team to work this weekend, you’d better show up too.

Make them your allies, not cronies

Having friends on your team can be a good thing too. Share your goals and visions with him, and make him your ally. When you introduce a potentially unpopular policy to the team, they can back you up and help align the rest of your team to your plans.

Be prepared to move on

If, against your best intentions, whatever measures you have tried failed to work, and your co-workers are not making it any easier, then be prepared to move on by asking for a transfer to another department.

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