Author of "Your Journey from Fired to Hired"
Career Advice

8 Tips to Manage your former Co-Workers

Meet Denise. Denise has been the backbone of her team at work for 6 years. She continually solves problems, pushes co-workers to do their best, keeps the boss off everyone’s back AND successfully counsels everyone on their personal issues. But now the boss is retiring and everyone (including her co-workers) is pushing her to take the job. Can Denise succeed as the new manager? Of course she can, but using the tips below will help Denise and YOU go from a favored team member to favored manager!

1. Don’t let the promotion go to your head. While it may seem obvious, nothing will kill the morale on your team (and ultimately your success as a manager) more than becoming arrogant after your promotion. To be successful in your new role, your team needs to feel that they are just as important as you, but serve in a different capacity. Note that humility is especially critical if other teammates applied for the same position.

2. Minimize after hours association. One of the hardest things about managing former teammates, is embracing a change in your relationship with them. And minimizing social time is critical. It’s not that you are too good for them, but more that you serve a different role. You will find it hard to discipline your “friends” and your “friends” will find it hard to vent about the boss at happy hour if you are along.

3. Develop your team. The surest way to win the support of your team is to help them be more successful. And don’t mistake this for just finding their weaknesses and sending them to a class. Instead, make them a partner. Ask them where they would like development help and then make it your mission to deliver those opportunities to them!

4. Remember what you didn’t like about the former boss. Whether your bosses were good or bad, you learned great management tips from them. Emulate the things you liked as an employee and stay far away from those you didn’t. Perhaps you worked for a poor communicator and were frustrated by being “in the dark.” In your new role as a manager, commit to being a great communicator. For example, when you talk with your team, be sure to share the “why” part of their work as well as the deadline and expectations.

5. Ask for ideas. Managing people is about leadership, it is NOT about feeling the need to solve everything yourself. And you know the old adage that “two heads are better than one.” Many top employees are poor managers simply because they forget to make their team part of the process. Avoid the trap of assuming you know what they will think because you’ve worked with them for years. Instead, include them in planning discussions regarding the direction of their work, and you will be a favored manager!

6. Keep things in confidence. In your new role as a manager, you will be privy to some private conversations and confidential information from your team. It is critically important that you respect the confidences that have been shared with you. In some cases, you may feel like you can help your staff by sharing the information. If you find yourself in this position, always ask for their permission first. If not, your team will quickly lose their trust in you. And in today’s business culture a leader who isn’t trusted will find it difficult (if not impossible) to succeed.

7. Respect your team. Just because your team is below you on the organizational chart, don’t think they aren’t critical to the success of the organization. In fact it’s quite likely that you manage folks who are smarter than you. Realize that while you may have aspired to management, not everyone desires the headaches and responsibilities. Be grateful for the strengths of your team.

8. Establish yourself as an open communicator. The early days of your new assignment are the perfect opportunity to discuss expectations. Think of it this way: you know what your team expected of you as a co-worker, but now it’s time to learn what they expect of you as a manager. After you learn their expectations, THEN share your goals and the responsibilities of your new position. Having a frank discussion with each member regarding how you can help them do their best work and getting them to share their vision of a great manager will prove invaluable as you learn to master your new role.

Making the transition from favored team member to favored manager isn’t easy for Denise or you. In fact, it may be one of the more challenging parts of your career. But using these tips will keep you on firm footing as you climb the ladder of success!

What tips do you have for making the transition from colleague to boss?

Article written by:

Kathi Miller-Miller is a sought after career specialist and author of “Your Journey from Fired to Hired.” Kathi draws on her 25+ years of success (and failures!) to offer her readers advice on topics ranging from dealing with a boss that drives you crazy to managing millennials...all in a light-hearted and easy to read style.

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