Picture this: you finally got the promotion you have been working towards for years, and you can’t wait to start your new role. However, as you prepare to take on your new role, you realize that you will have to start managing your former peers - a daunting task. But don’t panic, there are ways to make the transition from team member to team leader go much smoother than you may anticipate.
This transition will undoubtedly be challenging, so make sure you don’t accept the promotion if you are not willing to face these challenges head-on and work to overcome them. Switching from peer to manager presents challenges for both parties, but it also presents opportunities for growth. As long as you prepare for the transition and prioritize change management, there is no need to worry.
Starting your new position with a plan of action to address the new dynamic is crucial for a successful transition. As someone who has gone from peer to leader when I was promoted to a new position at Yoh, I have some tried and true tips to ease your mind.
Tips to Seamlessly Transition from Peer to Manager
1. Focus on Communication
Communication is the number one key to success when switching from team member to team leader. When you first find out about your promotion, it’s important to inform your peers of the upcoming change. No one likes to be left in the dark, so openly and honestly communicating this information from the start will directly impact how smoothly the job transition goes – which will also impact your future success in that role.
Schedule one-on-one meetings with each of your former peers to discuss how your new relationship needs to become more professional. These meetings are an opportunity to accept and encourage employee feedback and strategize how you will approach your new position based on their comments. Encourage your former peers to use you as a resource now that you’ve been promoted; you were just in their position, so you have first-hand knowledge of how you can make their work life better. Framing your promotion in a positive light will help people accept it.
These initial conversations will also give you an idea of which former peers (if any) are hesitant to accept the fact that you are now their manager. It’s best to logically and respectfully address any hesitant employees’ concerns as soon as they arise so they do not develop into an issue that could impact team morale.
2. Define the Relationship
Gaining the respect of your new team is the second key to a successful transition. Respect can be built by setting clear expectations and boundaries once you become the manager. No matter how close your relationship was with your peers in your previous role, it cannot stay the same. Your relationship needs to become more professional the minute you transition to manager, and this should be clearly communicated. Learning to balance a friendly approach with signs of strong leadership is crucial to being a good manager.
3. Use Your Former Peer Relationships to Your Advantage
When you were in your old position, you learned what you and your peers liked and disliked about the manager whose position you are taking over. Be sure to leverage these insights to improve upon your new role. If there was a specific managerial tactic that your peers did not support, then don’t repeat that behavior – make the organizational changes that you know are needed.
It's understandable if you are nervous about managing your former peers, but you need to put your nerves aside and enter your new role with confidence. You got promoted for a reason, so be confident in your abilities. You have probably already built a trusting relationship with your new direct reports, so as long as you show that you can be a strong leader, you should have no issues in your new role.
4. Make Your Team Feel Valued
It’s likely that your former peers helped you climb the professional ladder in some ways, so don’t forget to acknowledge that. Share your success with the team and express gratitude for how they helped and collaborated with you in your previous role. If you don’t recognize their part in your success, certain individuals could end up resenting you as their leader.
Lastly, make it known that your former peers have a voice under your leadership. Encourage them to speak up when they have ideas or concerns so you can implement changes to make organizational improvements. If you empower your team to speak up and you prove that their voice matters, they should be happy to follow you in your new role.
I encourage you to be proud of your promotion and own your new title. If you shy away from it and try to act like it’s not a big deal, your former peers will not take you seriously as their new manager. Be confident in the professional ladder that you climbed and follow the tips above to ensure a seamless transition from team member to team leader.