Promoted From Coworker To Manager? 7 Tips For A Smooth Transition

October 5, 2016

Two Businesswomen Having Informal Meeting In Modern OfficeOne of the more difficult career situations I’ve coached people through – and been through myself – is being promoted from within a department to become the manager of that group.

As one client found out, going from a peer who previously talked “trash” about the manager with other colleagues to the person others talked about can make it a stressful transition.

“Madison” realized that her previous personal relationships with coworkers had to be moved to a different level, because she was no longer a peer – she was the person who now assigned the work, analyzed productivity and held performance discussions.

Making the move from coworker to department manager was a tricky transition because, as the new manager, Madison was responsible for the productivity and results of her department. Oftentimes, former coworkers, either because of jealousy or out of habit, didn’t want to treat her as the boss – they wanted to continue treating her as one of the peer group.

Here are 7 tips for making the transition easier:

  • See your HR business partner to find out what training and support is available as you take on your new role.
  • Sit down one-on-one with each person in the department to discuss their feelings about your transition to the manager of the team. Talk about the expectations you have of each other and get potential issues out on the table, so you can address them.
  • Remain professional at all times. And treat each and every employee fairly and with respect, by listening to what each person has to say (listen more, speak less).
  • Eliminate your water-cooler or break-room gossip and venting sessions with employees.
  • Don’t allow previous work and/or friendships with your former peers to influence your new managerial responsibilities. You must now learn to remain unbiased, no matter what situation arises.
  • Ensure that everyone on the team understands your new role as their manager and the responsibilities that are expected of you by senior management.
  • Work out a game plan for how you and your team can work together to achieve the goals and objectives of the group. (Be sure to clearly and concisely communicate those goals and objectives).

Over time, as the team observed my client’s leadership skills and professionalism, they stopped seeing Madison as their peer and came to accept her as their manager.

Remember, your job as the new manager shouldn’t be about trying to be popular – it’s about leading others to achieve results. You may not win over everyone in the group, especially if one or two others also applied for the position you ultimately received.

No matter what happens, keep the focus on the work to be done, give it your best effort every day, treat everyone fairly and with compassion, and you will earn their respect over time.

~ Lisa Quast

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