Post-promotion: The art of managing your former peers
Friday, April 05, 2013
advance their careers, a coveted promotion often brings with it the immediate challenge
of leading a team of people who, until that moment, were peers. The challenge:
acting and accepting yourself as "the boss” so that your colleagues will too,
with confidence requires careful planning and proceeding. One of the first
items on the agenda should be meeting with those you formerly gossiped with by
the water cooler and now will oversee, according to the team at staffing firm
Robert Half International on CareerBuilder.com. "This includes group meetings
and one-on-one conversations to make sure everyone understands his or her exact
responsibilities; any recent staff or organization changes; what your
expectations are and how they may differ from the previous supervisor’s; and how
accountability will be measured.”
meetings don’t have to be awkward, said Kim Zilliox, an executive coach for
more than 20 years who previously led the Network of Executive Women’s Leadership
Academy courses. "What I find most difficult, and most important, is for both
parties to sit down and talk about how the relationship may look different from
this point on,” Zilliox told The Glass Hammer.
recommended looking at a typical day or week to see how touch points have been
in the past and then look to see how they might be different in the future. "If
this can be discussed between the two individuals affected, this creates an
optimal outcome,” Zilliox said.
workplace relationships can get complicated, warned John Halter of
Streetsmartleader.com. "It is a common mistake to believe your friends will help
you and your detractors will try and harm you. There are many possible outcomes
as your tenure progresses.”
categorizes team members as Supporters, Apathetics or Dissenters and says
understanding how to use each group to your advantage is a key to early success.
After assessing your team, focus on your boss’s short-term goals, he said.
During the "start-up cycle,” management will be carefully evaluating you and
looking to confirm its decision to promote you. "There will be time for you to
offer your own ideas down the road,” Halter said.
advancing from peer to boss, women must distinguish which parts of the
relationship with colleagues are personal and which are professional, according
to Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris in their book, From Bud to Boss: Secrets to
a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership. "If you’ve previously
talked or gossiped about management or someone in the organization or a
customer, you’re probably not going to engage in conversations about them
anymore,” they noted. "Regardless of your opinions, you need to be the leader,
not the friend.”
being promoted, have a "boundary” discussion with your work friends. "You will
need to explain that sometimes you will wear the friend hat, but other times
you are the boss,” the authors write.
abandon any idealistic philosophies about how you might still be a part of the
gang and how nothing has to change between you and them, Halter said."You are
now their boss. It is not about keeping or making friends. It is about creating
results to further the goals of your company.”
peers are not sold on you as their new leader, it is important to be proactive
in addressing the issue, Zilliox said. She offered these five tips:
- As a leader, allow your workplace friends and peers
to process their concerns and questions about the transition.
- Be sure to connect with each team member and discuss their strengths and goals.
Express your commitment to their success and that of the team.
- Create small wins for the team. Try to make them look good. Shifting the focus
away from you will help get the team moving forward.
- Check in with the holdouts. Can they suspend opinions for a while to see if it
will all work out? Be clear about why you were given this new role.
- Weed out the bad seeds. If some just can’t get on board, see what other parts
of the organization would be a better fit for them and help them move.
- Be confident. Any good leader is consistently learning and growing.
Kathy Bayert is vice president,
learning and advisory services, for the Network of Executive Women.
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