Helen Wilkie

Article Summary:

A new manager tip about handling your new relationship with your former co-workers.

New Manager Tip: You’re Not One Of The Gang Anymore

Managing people who used to be your peers is a challenge that has presented a rocky start for more than a few budding management careers.

Trouble typically comes when the manager adopts one of two extremes. He or she either flaunts the new position and behaves arrogantly towards workers, or tries to maintain the same chummy relationship as before, almost pretending the promotion hadn’t happened.

As a new manager, you should avoid both extremes. Here’s why;

It’s possible that some of your people will resent your promotion, feeling that they were equally qualified for the job. If you take a high-handed attitude towards them you’ll only compound that resentment. The natural human reaction will be to resist your efforts to manage, making your job more difficult.

If you try to maintain your former relationship, on the other hand, you still set yourself up for failure. It may seem like a good idea at first because you may feel your friends will be on your side. But managers often have to make unpopular decisions or criticize people’s work, and when this happens they will feel betrayed because you’ve put them in a position of not knowing where they stand.

In either case, you’ll have lost an opportunity to build the trust that is so necessary to your success.

So what’s the answer?

I recommend that you be up front with your people from the first day. In your first department or team meeting, address the issue directly. Tell them you realize one of them could easily have been made manager instead of you, and that you are honored to be the one chosen to lead them. Mention the advantage of having worked in the department and knowing how it works. Finally, tell them you will listen respectfully to their ideas, represent their interests to senior management and see that they get recognition for their efforts.

Warn them that as manager you will sometimes have to make decisions they won’t like, but promise to treat them fairly and with consideration. Ask that in return, they make every effort to adapt to the new situation and work with you to the benefit of the team.

Then live up to your commitments. Conduct yourself professionally, and you’ll soon earn the respect, trust and loyalty of your people.

Helen Wilkie is a professional keynote speaker, workshop leader and author specializing in applied communication. Read more articles on this and other communication subjects on her website at www.mhwcom.com. Subscribe to Helen’s free monthly e-zine, “Communi-keys”, and get your free 40-page e-book, 23 ideas you can use RIGHT NOW to communicate and succeed in your business career!

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