Transitioning to Leadership: How to Manage Previous Peers
Getting promoted to leadership is a rewarding and exciting experience, but overseeing individuals who have always been your peers can be a hard situation to adjust to. It can be intimidating figuring out how to act; on one hand, you want your former peers to take your direction seriously, but you also don’t want them to think you instantly forgot where you came from. The respect you receive can be largely dependent on how easily you make this transition, and to help you move in the right direction, here’s some advice to get you started.
Address the Change in a Meeting
There is no need to tiptoe around the fact that a major change has been made; instead, address it as soon as possible by calling a team meeting. State your expectations along with any changes you plan on implementing, and open the floor up for questions and concerns. Taking immediate action will help assert your authority as well as let your team know you value how they feel about the matter.
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Be Assertive without Being Overbearing
Coming to former peers with direction can feel uncomfortable and unnatural at first, but it’s important to be assertive. This doesn’t mean you should come in your first day on the job barking orders; in fact, coming on too strong at first will put most employees off and can cause them to lose respect for you, and in some cases, even resent you.
That being said, it’s important to appear confident and competent in order for your employees to take what you say to heart and believe that you have the vision to make the best choices. Don’t act unsure or apologetic for relaying some form of direction, but communicate in a way that lets your employees know you have a reason for asking them to do something.
Take Advantage of Knowing Personal Gripes
It’s just a fact of life; coworkers talk differently amongst themselves than they do when leadership is involved, and being brand new to management means you can leverage the things you know your employees didn’t like about the last person in your position. If the previous manager was unorganized, harsh, or hard to read, do your best to practice the opposite methods. Catering to the leadership style your employees respond best to will help both you and them find balance after the transition.
Treat All Employees Equally
This tip is much easier said than done. As much as you’d like to think treating all your employees equally will be second nature, it can be a very difficult thing when you’ve been their coworker. Naturally, there are coworkers you make connections with, some you don’t particularly care for, and others you are indifferent to, so it can be hard to not carry this attitude with you after you become their manager. However, it’s very important to keep from playing favorites in order to keep the workplace professional, so you might have to be more intentional in your approach.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Advice
You might have been promoted, but that doesn’t mean you have to act as though you’ve got it all figured out. In fact, the beginning of the adjustment period is the best time to ask your former manager, along with any other superiors, for help. People who have been there before are great individuals to get insight from because they know what you’re going through and will understand any questions and apprehensions you might have. On the other hand, asking for feedback and advice from your employees is a great way to see how the people who are directly affected by leadership feel as well. Getting input from both sides of the spectrum is a great way to help your leadership abilities form and grow.
Making the transition from working beside your peers to supervising them can make for an interesting period. While it might seem nerve-wracking at first, time will heal the apprehension for both you and your former coworkers, and as long as you work to find a balance in your authority, you’ll easily settle in and discover your own personal style of leadership.