Congratulations! You’ve just been singled out and promoted to a supervisory role. It’s very uplifting to be recognized and rewarded by your employer, but on the heels of these good feelings often comes the fall out from peers who may or may not be happy for you. It’s always difficult to transition from being “one of the gang” to a new manager. And tougher still, is managing the same group of people who just days before were friends and equals. Egos (both yours and theirs) will play a big part in how the scenario will work out.
The minute you accept the promotion, you must understand that the nature of your relationship will change. If you can’t deal with this pressure or the strain of having friends occasionally dislike you or your decisions then maybe management isn’t really for you. One of the trade-offs of promotion is the understanding that the social dynamics of your work circle will now morph into something new.
If this is your first entrée into management, it’s a rough road. Companies sometimes promote strong individual performers without providing management training, and you can be good at your job, without having the appropriate “soft” skills such as leading, disciplining, or motivating others. It’s difficult to have to suddenly assert your authority with people who haven’t seen you in that role. For example, telling your friend who now reports to you that his or her chronic lateness is a problem. It’s best to talk to that person in private — discuss the situation, but don’t ignore it. Try to resolve it in order to gain the respect and confidence of the rest of the team. You will be tested!
For your part, do your best to be consistent and fair, not narcissistic. The newly promoted often feel they have to prove they were promotion-worthy by becoming authoritarian and controlling. You have to find the balance between manager and friend and in most instances, you have be willing to give up some of the closeness that originally bonded you together.
If you are determined to succeed in this new role, here are some suggestions to make the change positive for everyone.
• Sit with each staff member individually and let them know what they can expect from you and what you expect from them.
• Never discuss confidential matters that your new leadership role affords you, such as information about mergers, acquisitions or layoffs with your friends/subordinates.
• Avoid issues of favoritism by not spending excessive time outside of work with any one employee.
• Reach out to managers outside of your company for support and advice. Build a network beyond your work circle.
• Learn how to plan and delegate. You can still share in the burden of the work, but don’t try to take it all on yourself for fear that your team won’t do a good job, or do it as well as you can. You need to trust them and they need to trust you.
• Be a good listener. Talk out problems or difficult situations with the individual in question. Aim for resolution.
A management title does not dictate immediate respect or obedience. That comes with time and proof of your capabilities. Quiet competence is an excellent goal and your actions will say more than words. True friends will give their buddies the opportunity to succeed. You can make yourself crazy trying to nurture old relationships, or you can just focus on doing the best job you can by managing effectively and ethically. And if you can do that…you’ve got the makings of a darn good manager.