The day has finally arrived. Years of work and dedication have earned you a promotion to a leadership role in your organization. That’s cause for celebration.
But once the celebrating is over, what comes next?
As satisfying as it is to take on a new role, it also immediately presents fresh challenges. Along with the bump in pay and more challenging work, new leaders face an adjustment to being the person in charge.
The same level of preparation and focus that got you to this position in the first place can also help you succeed going forward.
From Follower to Leader
Becoming a leader and managing people who were once your peers can prove challenging. In the best of cases, those who once worked side-by-side with you recognize your abilities and are happy to now let you lead.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There’s a possibility someone is bitter because you got the job they wanted, as pointed out by Liane Davey in the Harvard Business Review. She wrote that some might use passive-aggressive tactics to undermine your authority.
In the worst-case scenario, a whole group of team members might “gang up” against you.
All this can seriously get in your head. The support and feedback you had as an employee are now gone. There’s no manager to please – you are the manager.
But these worries also indicate you care. That’s a good thing. Making the transition from being part of the team to leading it is not easy. But dealing with the above issues and other challenges of moving up the ladder is more manageable if you take a few important steps.
Meet with Individual Team Members
Take the time to set up one-on-one meetings with team members. Chances are, you will know beforehand who might harbor any resentment of your promotion. Now’s the chance to talk with them privately about working together. One key here, according to Fast Company, is to hold the meeting in a neutral space, not your new office. It’s also good to acknowledge that the change is awkward and get it out into the open. Let people say something if they want. Get a feel for how they will work with you going forward.
Meet with the Entire Team
Establishing regular meetings can be a productive move. It offers a chance to communicate valuable information. More significantly, it gives you the chance to truly listen to what people have to say. And that’s the key – listen more than you talk. Always.
It’s also wise to set clear expectations as early as possible. Considering your new role may be a potentially awkward situation among your former teammates, don’t compound that by not clearly detailing what you expect going forward. Challenge yourself, as well, to meet ambitious standards.
Leverage Team Strengths
An advantage of working so long beside the people you now manage is that you know their strengths and weaknesses. Use that knowledge to put people in positions where they will succeed, as well as working to shore up areas that need improvement.
Build New Peer Networks
As a leader, you need to reach out and connect with others in the same position. Set up meetings both in and out of the office. Build a network of people who have faced many of the same challenges you now face. They can provide both support and guidance. Now is an appropriate time to cut back on socializing with your former co-workers. Don’t cut them off, but give them space. Mix in more socializing with your new peer group of fellow leaders.
Putting the above ideas into practice takes time, and won’t happen overnight. Eventually, you and your team members will become comfortable and productive in this new relationship.