The hardest transition I have experienced when moving into a higher managerial role is the change in relationship between me and former peers or colleagues. This upward mobility is challenging because you are now responsible for training and managing the team.
Of course, this is not a new problem within organizations or at various levels. As we advance in our careers, it’s expected that we will eventually manage former peers. The problem is that in these situations, none wants to be viewed as bad guy. It believe that it is a natural tendency to desire to be perceived as the same regular person that we were before the promotion. Inevitably, you will have to take charge of the new relationship roles if you and your team is to be successful.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Address problem or concern immediately: I know that it is gut wrenching to have to tell former peers how you honestly rate their performance. There is no point in beating around the bush, or vacillating. Don’t waste time complaining. Have the performance and coaching discussion as soon as practicable.
2. Make the discussion about the performance rather than the performer: Use specific examples and coach alternatives to more positively affect the performance outcomes. This helps to take the personal aspects of the discussion out of the equation and makes it more about finding the solution to a shared problem.
3. Assume we swapped positions, what would you do? Don’t be bashful. This is a great question to ask of the people who seem to doubt your ideas, especially if that former peer has been working for the organization longer than you have. A question like this helps them to understand that you value their opinion and experience and also gives them a better sense of your performance oriented rationale.
4. It’s not personal: You can expect and anticipate that some of your former peers may not always be open to your constructive feedback… but that’s natural. You’re in your position for a reason, mainly because your management believes that you can provide insight into making the team’s job easier and more productive.
5. You’re working with them. They’re not working for you: I think this speaks for itself.
Not everyone will think the same way that you do. Just because something worked for you in a previous role doesn’t necessarily mean it will for everyone you’re now responsible for supervising or managing. Empathize and put yourself in their shoes. This will make a difficult transition much easier for everyone.
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